finding inspiration

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to startups. Each startup’s journey is different regardless of which industry they are in, which country they are operating from, and all other small factors that make each startup unique.

That is not to say we ignore other startups’ stories. Those who came before play a huge role in today’s generation of entrepreneurs. They are the ones who planted the idea of finding new ways of doing things; the ones who leveraged on tech and paved the way for the startup ecosystems’ ideas of disrupting and creating.

Or, at the very least, they provide lessons and inspiration for current and aspiring entrepreneurs. Success stories, after all, are celebrated and the less successful ones are taken into consideration.

We got to ask Ezra Ferraz, author of The Finishers,  two things about finding inspiration from the work of others.

On what entrepreneurs can learn from the Filipino technopreneur experience

“The Philippines is similar enough to other markets in Asia in general and Southeast Asia in particular that there is plenty to learn in the individual stories of local entrepreneurs.[For example:]

Shahab Shabibi, the co-founder and CEO of company-builder Machine Ventures, was able to take their first portfolio startup, HeyKuya, from founding to exit in less than six months. That’s a record for the Philippine tech ecosystem, and I’d venture that’s one of the quickest exits regionally as well. The fact that he was able to scale and exit so quickly speaks to what relentless focus on the user can do when combined with a foray into a highly sought after vertical in Asia (HeyKuya was an SMS-based personal concierge service).

Similarly, John Bailon is the co-founder and CEO of Bitcoin umbrella company, Satoshi Citadel Industries (SCI). When they founded SCI in 2014, one of their portfolio companies was competing with Rather than slug it out in a price war, both Sam Kaddoura, the co-founder and CEO of, and Bailon had the foresight to combine forces. Upon SCI’s acquisition of, the combined entity has grown exponentially and has even gone on to raise a strategic investment from Korean unicorn, Kakao. The SCI story, then, is a lesson in how market consolidation can benefit Asian entrepreneurs in certain spaces.”

On finding inspiration close to home

“Around the middle of last year, I attended a startup event here in Manila where founders would present their product from a booth. Out of curiosity, I asked each of these founders which entrepreneur they looked up to the most. Time after time they named founders like Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, or Travis Kalanick – in other words, American-based entrepreneurs.

Outside of a few people with a family business who named a relative, almost no one in the room cited a single Philippine-based tech entrepreneur. I found this gap disconcerting. If our founders want to build, scale, and potentially exit their startup in the Philippines, it would make most sense to learn from and find inspiration in the local entrepreneurs who already have. Manila, after all, is a profoundly different market from Silicon Valley.”

Ezra, with Shahab Shabibi and John Bailon, will be talking about getting first-hand advice and inspiration for entrepreneurs who want to scale and potentially exit their startup in the unique business landscape of the Philippines at Wildcard QLITAN: Lessons from Successful Technopreneurs on June 20, 2017. The event will be held at QBO Innovation Hub in Makati City, Philippines.


Ezra Ferraz is a writer and researcher based in Manila whose first book, The Finishers,  details the founding-to-acquisition stories of eleven Philippine-based startups. He is a content marketer and business writer with a passion for technology, startups, and entrepreneurship.

Since publishing The Finishers, Ezra continues to share the success stories of tech founders and their startups, this time through a company of his own, Ambidextr. Backed by Future Now Ventures, Ambidextr is a full service content marketing and public relations studio focused on serving tech innovators across Asia Pacific.

Feature image credit: stanciuc / 123RF Stock Photo