And the geeks will inherit the earth
Kap Maceda Aguila (The Philippine Star) - July 29, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Or at least the beach of Boracay; albeit a couple of days.

Smart Communications’ developer community program Smart Developer Network (Smart DevNet) and the Philippines’ “largest privately backed incubator,” IdeaSpace Foundation, are sponsoring the country’s first-ever tech and startup conference.

Dubbed “Geeks On A Beach (GOAB),” the techfest happens on famous Boracay Island, and is expected to feature experts in startups, technology, gaming, mobile apps, and graphic design.

Organized by non-profit group TechTalks.ph, the GOAB is expected to draw up to 300 participants — including angel investors and high-level industry players who can be mentors or advisers to a growing number of tech people in country.

TechTalks.ph founder Tina Amper said the group started as a way for her to find out more about people working in Cebu’s tech industry.

“I simply wanted to have coffee with them and find out what they were doing, and what capabilities they had,” she shared at a recent press conference.

From the meet-ups, chitchatting, networking, Amper revealed a lot of people have found jobs and mentors. “You’ve got to start somewhere. We are in the community in the grassroots level,” she said.

Born and raised in Cebu, Amper and her family moved to the United States after her graduation from college. She worked at Silicon Valley as a business professional in the tech industry. “I was in business development and research and recruitment. Three years ago, I became an international business development consultant,” she said.

Then she wanted to be based here again, and learned from her TechTalks.ph meet-ups that the country is a rich source of talent in tech. From the 12 people who attended the very first meeting, TechTalks.ph now boasts close to 1,200 members with chapters in Cebu, Bohol, Davao, and Iloilo.

Amper insisted that the GOAB is open to all stripes and manner of tech enthusiasts. “Sixty to 70 percent of our members are developers and designers,” she said. “The rest are business people, students, academics, professors — random people who found us on the Web.”

This is the same mix of people that the GOAB seeks to attract. “Geeks On A Beach” was inspired by “Geeks On A Plane,” an “invite-only tour for startups, investors, and executives to learn about burgeoning technology markets worldwide.”

A bevy of resource speakers will be sharing their expertise at the GOAB as well, including Smart chief wireless advisor and founder Orlando Vea for the keynote, Bowei Gai of World Startup Report, Jojo Flores of Plug and Play Tech Center, Ron Hose of Innovation Endeavors, Maria Ressa of Rappler.com, Zac Cohn of Liffft, Ralph Wunch of MetroDeal, Paul Singh of 500 Startups, Stephen Jagger of PayrollHero, Frederic Levy of CashCashPinoy, Earl Valencia of IdeaSpace.ph, Minette Navarette of Kickstart Ventures, and Erick Garayblas of Kuyi Mobile.

Organizers hope to make this a yearly confab that will be a favorite fixture on the international tech calendar of events as well. Amper, however, admitted that “geeks cannot do it alone.”

Indeed, with the leg-up of corporate sponsors such as Smart with IdeaSpace, Airbnb, Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Freelancer.com, Microsoft Philippines, Lenovo Mobile Philippines, MetroDeal.com, and Megaworld, plus supporters such as the Digital Commerce Association of the Philippines, Brain Gain Network, Game Developers Association of the Philippines, Webgeek, e27, istorya.net, and others, the GOAB is promising to be a total geek out.

The DOST is also keenly interested and involved in the undertaking. Commissioner Mon Ibrahim said the agency has helped subsidize the cost of registration, and agrees with leveraging on Boracay’s allure as a tourism hub.

Meanwhile, Smart DevNet’s Jim Ayson said, “Boracay has one of the fastest mobile Internet speeds (which makes it) uniquely positioned as a world-class beach that has kick-ass mobile Internet coverage.”

This kind of device- and tech-conducive atmosphere will bring unparalleled convenience to geeks who should also delight in what Amper promised to be an “open, sharing atmosphere,” with “like-minded individuals.”

She added: “In the international tech community, you are judged by how good you are as far as work is concerned. It does not matter what your last name is… Filipinos excel in it because we are good in the technical field.”

Amper gushed: “Pinoys are so awesome. You give them something to do and they will get it done.”

No doubt about it. Time is nigh time to get your geek on.

* * *

For more information and to register, visit http://www.geeksonabeach.com. Facebook account is GeeksOnABeach; Twitter account is @GeeksOnABeach. The first 20 registrants get to sit at lunch with the speakers.

AMPER BORACAY BORACAY ISLAND BOWEI GAI OF WORLD STARTUP REPORT BRAIN GAIN NETWORK CEBU COMMISSIONER MON IBRAHIM DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY GEEKS ON A BEACH TECH
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