The ‘RISE’ of Philippine startups

Eight startups received a P500,000 equity-free grant from Makati City after the qualifying pitching competition held on April 8 to sustain their development.

Eight local startups connected with investors during the recent RISE (Resiliency Innovation Sustainability Entrepreneurship) Pitch Night that could turn their ideas into the next unicorn. | photograph courtesy of ronin

The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of the digital lifestyle pushing consumer demand for more efficient and advanced digital technologies that raised the awareness and establishment of startups in the country.

The development in fintech, e-commerce, and logistics have put the local startups in the spotlight, raising more than P57.4 billion ($1.03 billion) last year, higher than the P20.53 billion ($369 million) in 2020.

With a reported 73 million Internet users and a 24 percent growth rate in internet economy’s compound annual growth rate (CAGR) both last year, the Philippines sets the perfect backdrop for innovators and startups.

However, studies show that nearly 90 percent of startups eventually fail, leaving only 10 percent surviving to continue their journey. Startups’ success depends on their ability to innovate, and transforming their ideas and scaling up operations require not just luck but proper mentoring and the right network.

Eight startups received a P500,000 equity-free grant from Makati City after the qualifying pitching competition held on 8 April to sustain their development, while the founders attended a 12-week training program that will prepare them to pitch to qualified investors properly.

On 9 August, some of the country’s top investors and innovators met the eight qualified startups for the culmination of the RISE (Resiliency Innovation Sustainability Entrepreneurship) Pitch Night. The event was their final pitch to investors to open new investment opportunities.

“For the past 12 weeks, you have undergone rigorous training and mentorship from the industry’s best minds,” Makati City Mayor Abigail Binay told the eight startups.

She also commended the RISE program for providing opportunities to up-and-coming entrepreneurs with ideas to offer.

Binay added, “Initiatives like the RISE program are so important, and they provide a platform for entrepreneurs to showcase their talents and turn their game-changing ideas into reality.”

Hosted by the investment holding company Ronin Group in collaboration with the local government of Makati City and the University of Makati, the RISE certification program aims to create a sustainable and scalable pipeline. The program seeks to democratize innovation by accelerating startups from all levels of society and placing them in front of qualified investors.

Ronin CEO and co-founder Yani de Guzman, said the RISE initiative was established to gather creative minds and provide them financial access through funding and mentoring.

“We hope to provide them (startups) the P500,000 financial aid when they reach certain milestones to ensure that the grant is helping them create a sustainable business, develop their structures, and form a solid legal foundation for their businesses. We will show and allow them to pitch (their ideas) in front of qualified investors,” De Guzman said during the Pitching Competition qualifying event held last 8 April.

According to De Guzman, Pitch Night opens doors for a new generation of innovators, founders, and entrepreneurs to make their presence known in the region and connect them with potential investors while expanding their network.

In addition, De Guzman reminded startups, particularly those who believe their ideas have the potential for great success, that choosing the right investor or partners is one of the most critical financial decisions they will make.

“We focused on young innovators and identified some founders already staking the startup ecosystem by storm,” she added.

Hand-selecting the eight startups for their ideas, potential, and skills, Ronin and its partners are provided the opportunity to trial the investor-startup relationship and test innovations at a rapid pace in a supported environment.

Makati City could benefit from the RISE challenge to transition into the country’s premier tech hub. “I envision Makati as the new Silicon Valley of the Philippines, a hub for tech startups and a breeding ground for the next big thing,” Binay added.

The mayor went on to say, “It is time you put your hard work to the test and show us what you’ve got. I am confident that each of you has what it takes to succeed. So go out there, seize the opportunity and make us proud.”

The Pitch Night was held at the COLLAB Spaces, Sheraton Manila Hotel.


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