Philippine startups

Over the past few months, I have been told by several members of the community that what Philippine startups and entrepreneurs need to do is to be more vocal about their startup journey.

I’ve written before about how I think Filipino entrepreneurs need to adjust their mindset to truly become global, so we’re not getting into that again.

We’re moving on to the next sentence that mostly follows that first one: The country needs more startup success stories.

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Why? These two reasons are always given:

  • It puts the country’s startup community in the radar of regional investors and partners
  • It provides early-stage startups and young entrepreneurs with inspiration and some kind of roadmap to emulate

Very well, but how do you get people who generally refuse to “lift their own chairs” (it’s a literal translation of a popular Filipino phrase about not tooting your own horn — doesn’t have the same ring to it in English, though) to actually reach out and tell their story?

Because the problem isn’t always that they don’t want to talk about it. Sometimes the problem is that they don’t know how and oftentimes cannot be bothered go out of their way to find out.

The Finishers 

This is precisely what Ezra Ferraz set out to do. In his book The Finishers, he documents the journey of 11 Philippine startups from idea to exit. The goal of the book, Ferraz says, is to provide inspiration and practical advice from actual entrepreneurs who have successfully built tech companies in the country.

During its launch at QBO Innovation Hub, Ferraz talked about how each startup’s journey is different — from the country’s fastest exit by Hey Kuya to SCI’s acquisition of a competitor – but how it ultimately makes sense to look into these stories for inspiration. After all, if one plans to build and scale their startup in the Philippines, it is better to learn from local entrepreneurs who had already done that.

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And if we go by the number of people who showed up at the launch, as well as the kinds of questions that they asked, there is no lack of interest from the community to hear about the startup journey of others. Entrepreneurs want to learn: They asked about how the startups navigated the tedious regulations of a country with difficult policies, they discussed different ways of educating the market, they wanted to learn about how these startups built their teams.

The book features just 11 Philippine startups. There are many more out there with inspiring stories in varying stages of a startup. Will the community hear about them soon? Will they speak up?

A study in humility

At the heart of it all is humility, I’ve been told. A Filipino’s aversion to self-promotion may come from years of being taught that humility is a virtue worth striving for. You don’t just go out and sing your own praises. Let your work speak for itself. Focus on doing a great job instead of telling others what a great job you’re doing. Don’t talk about you.

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Those are actually sound advice, especially the part about focussing on doing a great job, but why shouldn’t you talk about you? Why shouldn’t you talk about your team? Why not tell the world about your accomplishments?

Like everything else, humility is best used in moderation.

If your story serves to inspire or, at the very least, be a cautionary tale, tell it. The world will listen.

Thoughts on this? Weigh in at the comments section.

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Featured image credit: garloon / 123RF Stock Photo