Freeman Cebu Business

Filipino startup among Forbes Asia’s 100 to Watch List 2023

Ehda M. Dagooc - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  Filipino-led startup company Packworks gained global attention and was named as one of the companies to watch out for in the Asia-Pacific region.

Packworks is a provider of business-to-business (B2B) open platform to sari-sari stores and was picked by Forbes Asia’s 100 to Watch List of 2023, one of the only nine companies from the Philippines that have made it to the list. It is also one of the nine listed companies in the eCommerce and retail industry.

According to Forbes Asia, the final 100 were selected from over 550 submissions and nominations from accelerators, incubators, SME advocacy organizations, universities, and venture capitalists across the region.

To qualify for the list, companies must be headquartered in the Asia-Pacific region, be privately owned and for-profit, have an annual revenue not exceeding $50 million, and have received no more than $100 million in total funding as of August 7, 2023. Metrics such as a positive impact on the region or industry, a track record of strong revenue growth or ability to attract funding, promising business models or markets, and a persuasive story were looked at for consideration.

“We are honored to be recognized by Forbes Asia and included in their '100 to Watch List' for 2023. At Packworks, our mission has always been to empower sari-sari stores through our open platform, and this recognition underscores our commitment to driving innovation in the e-commerce and retail industry,” Packworks Co-founder and CEO Bing Tan said in a statement.

“To every sari-sari store owner, partner, and dedicated team member who has believed in and journeyed with us — this recognition is as much yours as it is ours,” he added.

Packworks was born in 2018 out of a passion project by Tan alongside co-founders Ibba Bernardo and Hubert Yap, who first started as motorbike buddies delivering solar panels to provinces and far-flung places across the country. During their excursions, they saw firsthand the challenges brought by limited access for sari-sari store owners and embarked on developing an application for small store businesses to have a one-app stop for all their needs.

Launched as a solution for multinational companies with only a handful of sari-sari store partners, Packworks has rapidly expanded as a B2B platform that enables growth and success throughout all stakeholders in the supply chain ecosystem, from small sari-sari store owners to wholesalers, distributors, and renowned FMCG companies and brands.

With about 75 percent of sari-sari stores owned by women, Packworks also works to empower female entrepreneurs.

The company raised US$2 million in seed funds in August last year and is backed by ADB Ventures, Arise, CVC Capital Partners - Fast Group, IdeaSpace Foundation, and Techstars. It then launched its mobile enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform and now provides technology solutions to over 270,000 sari-sari stores across the Philippines.

Through the Sari.PH Pro app, sari-sari store owners can access pricing tools, inventory management, sales and revenue tracking, and working capital loans.

Packworks also launched last year the business intelligence tool Sari IQ, which utilizes data analytics to understand and predict consumer behavior, enabling retailers and multinational brands to make data-driven decisions that boost sales for sari-sari store owners and expand their product offerings to a larger customer base.

Packworks will represent the Philippines at the Startup World Cup 2023 in Silicon Valley, USA, in December after winning Ignite 2022's Startup World Cup (SWC) x Wildfire Pitch competition in October last year.

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