Online pawnshop PawnHero was the Judges’ Choice, while online travel platform FlipTrip walked away as the People’s Choice at the Philippines Qualifier of Echelon’s TOP100 Startups

Judges Choice

Our search for Echelon Asia Summit’s Top 100 startups continued in Manila, Philippines on March 24 at A SPACE. With a laid back vibe, attendees sat on beanbags for the session and John Orrock – Advisor and Strategic Business Development at Future Now Ventures Investment – commented: “What was really interesting about today was the diversity of the people, the companies, and the stages they were at, and the spaces they were in, all at the same event. e27 is the glue between the startups, countries, and funding, and it was obvious today and I thought it was pretty cool.”

PawnHero, Southeast Asia’s first online pawnshop, took home the Judges’ Choice award and FlipTrip, an online platform which connects travellers to locals in the off beaten path destinations in Philippines, walked away with the People’s Choice award at the Philippines Qualifier.

Echelon Asia Summit will be held in Singapore on June 23-24, 2015.

PawnHero seeks to make it transparent, convenient, and fair for those seeking affordable credit. Currently less than 80 per cent of Filipinos have bank accounts, and those who do go to pawn shops are only able to trade in jewelry. PawnHero changes the game by accepting gadgets, electronics and even luxury goods. It was one of the judges’ favourite startups of the day with its clear business model and strong team.

Chairman and Co-founder of PawnHero, David Margendorff, had attended Echelon in Singapore last year but he could not pitch even though they had already started working on the idea due to the sensitive nature of the regulated industry.

PH Judges

Judges (from left to right) Amarit Charoenphan, Koichi Saito, John Orrock, and Pete Bonee (Image Credit: A SPACE Manila).

Were they expecting the win? “I hate losing, which is why I went in with very little expectations,” he said. It looks like their worries were unfounded. Out of the eight startups that pitched, PawnHero had one of the clearest presentations, with traction that proved popular with the judges. Moreover a new function that they added would allow users to directly sell on their platform. Suddenly they were no longer just a pawn shop online, but had become a platform that would also compete directly with classifieds in Philippines.

Play to win, win to play
Keynote speaker Gabby Dizon, CEO and Co-founder of Altitude Games, shared what it takes to make investors taking a liking to your startup. He compared the process of finding the right investor for your company to dating and shared pearls of wisdom such as “love yourself first” and “don’t propose on the first date” – that is, don’t ask for money during your first meeting!

List of startups that pitched at the Philippines Qualifier:

1. CrowdNet (CrowdNet)
2. TalinoEV Systems (Phils) Inc (TalinoEV)
3. Secure Deals (Secure Deals)
4. Sustainable Alternative Lighting Corp. (SALt lamp)
5. OptionQuant (Option Quant)
6. FlipTrip.PH (FlipTrip.PH)
7. (TxtSupport)
8. PawnHero (PawnHero)

Dreams do come true
This time last year, FlipTrip had just formed their team and was only beginning to work on their idea. Jackie Yap, CMP, had attended the Qualifier held in Manila and was inspired by pitching event. In fact when she reached home, she declared to the team that they should work towards being on the very same stage next year, pitching their idea to the attendees and investors.


FlipTrip, winner of the Peoples’ Choice award, with the judges (Image Credit: A SPACE Manila).

This dream almost didn’t come true because they missed the initial deadline for applications. Luckily April Cuenca, CEO, came across the call for extension while she was sequestered away on an island and applied right away. The entire team was ecstatic when they discovered that they had made it to the Qualifiers.

They came to the Qualifier with the aim of walking away with the Peoples’ Choice award because it represented the support of the people. “We still didn’t expect to be here at all but with hard work, we got the traction we were aiming for. Also the other startups were more mature, and we didn’t think we could beat them. But we just had to take the chance.”

And it looks like taking that chance has paid off.

Get your Super Early Bird tickets for the Echelon Asia Summit, and secure your free passes to the TOP100 Qualifiers across different cities.