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Freeman Cebu Business

Lack of investors derails growth of tech startups

Carlo S. Lorenciana - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines – While the startup industry in Cebu has a potential, the absence of investors to fund emerging innovations remains a big challenge.

Tina Amper, founder of TechTalks.ph, said innovative technology challengers need the support from investors and even the government to succeed.

"It's growing and there is no limit to what we can do," Amper said in an interview at the sidelines of the first Student Innovation Cup in Cebu on Monday, organized by TechTalks, a non-profit society for business, technology and startup enthusiasts.

According to Amper, coming up with potential startups that address some of today's pressing problems comes with failures -- many of them. That's why she noted the startup community largely looks up to those people who have courage and drive to pursue their endeavors, describing it as "matirang matibay" in dialect.

She said the problem in Cebu is the unavailability of angel investors that provide financial backing, mentorship and education for start-ups.

Business incubators are mostly based in the country's capital, including IdeaSpace Foundation and Globe's Kickstart Ventures which give startup capital and mentorship to budding entrepreneurs.

Limited seed funding from potential investors is reportedly to have remained as a challenge for the nation's information technology and startup sector.

To spur and attract investments from funders, accelerators and incubators, there should be the existence of innovative ideas from talented people, industry players said.

Amper believes that students in particular have a very big potential in producing innovative ideas that the industry could use and existing businesses could adopt to improve their operations.

The SIC, for instance, was aimed at evaluating the viability of the students' technology-oriented projects that could possibly solve current industry problems. On Monday, ten teams from different universities in the country -- mostly from Cebu -- showcased their innovation-driven enterprises involving e-commerce to attract mentorship and support during the SIC in the University of Cebu. She said it was one way to encourage university students to become innovators and create things that are worth building.

Students can become prospective tech entrepreneurs using their talents and unique ideas with the help of their schools which can just do more on promoting or selling the works of their students to the industry, she explained.

Sheryl Satorre, technopreneurship lecturer at UC, said there is really need to urge learners of information technology to concretize their ideas to turn into viable concepts.

Roadmap

The founder also expressed her optimism on the tech start-up roadmap being drafted by the Department of Science and Technology, aiming to support the local technopreneurs. The first draft of the roadmap will be released within the year, she added.

In addition, Amper also said that this year's Geeks on a Beach, a technology startup forum, will be held in Boracay Island on Aug. 20-21. GOAB is an avenue for homegrown start-ups to link with prospective international founders and investors and business partners who can help finance their enterprise concepts.

She revealed they are currently raising a fund of P4.2 million to host the said event, adding the DOST has committed to help fund the event.

BORACAY ISLAND CEBU DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY FOUNDATION AND GLOBE KICKSTART VENTURES ON MONDAY SHERYL SATORRE STUDENT INNOVATION CUP TECHNOLOGY TINA AMPER UNIVERSITY OF CEBU
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