We, at e27, believe in Asia’s startups. As such, we value their insights about the ecosystem, put the spotlight on their contributions to their industries, and celebrate the wins that they have.
This week’s community spotlight is on Jonathan Deforge, CEO of Philippine-based MBA marketplace Scoutedby, who sat down with us to talk about the startup community, the Philippines, and why he thinks it’s important to have vision.
On unicorns, the tech community, and first world technology
“There is an arrogance to the tech community, I think. People are always looking at who is the next unicorn, at who gets the next highest funding, at who creates something new like maybe a flying car. I respect that but I think it’s better to be relevant. You do not need to create something new all the time, you can use something that is already there in a different way such that it creates different results. You can use existing technologies from the first world [countries], bring it here, and simplify that to what is needed here.”
On startups and corporations
“I feel that with the popularity of startups, there came an aversion to joining corporations. I have met students who is intent to build startups because of the perceived lifestyle. It is good because startups do boost technology and gives new solutions to problems but corporations are not bad. Startups are faster and give you more opportunities to quickly develop skills, but corporations can teach you structure that is especially helpful when building a business.”
On alternatives to actively raising funds
“Too many founders are focussed on raising funds. Funding is important for scaling but there is nothing wrong with developing your product, launching it, and trying to operate sustainably. It would attract more investors if they can see that you have a business. That is how SMEs worked and it still works.”
On having a vision
“Having a vision is important. In some instances, startups fail even after securing funding or launching successfully because they simply followed what is popular. Like blockchain, for example. I have met people who want to build startups revolving around blockchain without fully understanding it. But if you have a vision, a plan for where they want to be and what problems you are planning to solve, then that would make you more successful. You can be big now but without a vision, you will be left behind.”
On creating social impact
“We can talk about monetising the business because that is why we are in business. But if we think first of solutions to the problems that we have, for example the traffic, and create something that works to solve that before thinking about how to monetise, that would be better. Because you know then that you have a market and that people would be using your product because it is needed.”
On the Philippines and traffic
“There are so many things to solve in the Philippines, but one that we should have been able to is the traffic. You cannot have a workforce that spends two to three hours in traffic, morning and evening. You will be tired at work, you will not have time for your family and friends – give it a few years, nothing will work anymore because people are just tired.”
On rural solutions
“It goes back to creating solutions. Startups should not just focus on crowded urban areas. If you fix problems in rural areas and help the people there earn better, then they will not go to the already crowded cities looking for better opportunities that they may not find.”
Makes sense? Got other ideas? Agree or disagree? Let us know!
Thank you, Jonathan!
Scoutedby is a digital platform that allows business schools to connect with applicants through a transparent and efficient marketplace. Schools get access to profiles of applicants that fit their requirements, with the added option of having the capability of connecting with the applicant directly through the platform. The applicants, on the other hand, can access resources that allow them to measure their profile against the candidate profiles of business schools, for better gauge their chances of getting admitted. Scoutedby aims to become a total career management platform that allows individuals to plan and develop their skills development based on their career track.