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Thanking our customers — our startups

by Diane Eustaquio, Executive Director, Ideaspace

When I get home at the end of each working day, my husband greets me with this line without missing a day, “how was your day?” Many times I have a short remark to recap the day. There are some days, though that I have to sit and debrief myself. He listens.

December 12, 2016, it was quite a day. I was sleep-deprived the night before, because of my mommy duties. Every working day at IdeaSpace demands a lot. Still so much to do, to fix, to put into place. However, now that we are about 3 months to our 5th year anniversary, I can say we are better now at what we do. Tired and sleepy, but I end today with gratitude, just how all days should end.

We are better now at what we do. There is nothing like the endorsement from our startups that the IdeaSpace program has worked for them. Ginger Arboleda of Team Taxumo, Cohort 4- 2016 wrote how much they learned from every step of the program. (By the way, Taxumo is an end-to-end
online tax assistance platform for self-employed individuals & professionals that automates tax computation, submission, and payment.) Thank you Ginger. There is nothing like an endorsement from a happy customer.

At around the same time Ginger wrote her post, we were being interviewed by a friend from media about our announcement that we will support up to 15 startups in 2017. Why so? I said, well we are getting better at what we do, increasing it to 15 startups is our contribution to making the startup ecosystem more vibrant. Exactly a month from now, we will begin the selection of the 2017 cohort. It is usually a 3-month process of narrowing down the applications to the top 100, then another round to bring the number down to top 50, then another round of intensive interviews to bring it down to top 25. IdeaSpace won’t exist without it’s generous sponsors (Meralco, Maynilad, PLDT, Smart, Voyager Innovations, Metro Pacific, First Pacific, Metro Pacific Tollways, some of the hospitals from the MPIC Hospital Group and Mr. Manuel V. Pangilinan). Thank you donors, thank you.

As my day was closing, I read this article written by Tomas S. Noda III of Deal Street Asia and reposted by Jojy Azurin , a key player in the Phillippine tech startup ecosystem. Thank you Tom and Jojy for helping us spread the word about the next round and the search for the 15 teams in 2017. The photo on the news article shows Butch Meily, IdeaSpace’ newly appointed president, me and 5 of our startups putting our hands together. Indeed it takes a community to do this. Without dedicated mentors, volunteer mentors, great partners, and our dedicated team — we can do what we do. If there is one word that personifies these people — it’s authenticity. They give because they want to give and want to see other people grow. They don’t do this for themselves. Thank you mentors and partners companies. I wish I can mention all of you, but the list is long and it continues to grow. You know who you are, maraming salamat.

(L-R: Kenneth Nieto, CEO of Tambio; Rio Ilao, founder of Tarkie; Elaine de Velez, co-founder of Frontlearners; Diane Eustaquio, Executive Director of Ideaspace; Rene “Butch” Meily, Ideaspace President; Au Soriano, Founder of Pinoytravel; and Zes Martinez, co-founder of FAME

In the photo used in Tom Noda’s article, on the leftmost side is Ken Morgan Nieto, co-founder of Tambio (Cohort 2–2014). Tambio is an-all-in-one raffle solution, from raffle activation to raffle draw. If you frequent any of the Megaworld malls and have used their automated raffle solution in the recent months — that’s brought to you by Tambio. It used to take their customers 3–4 months AFTER the raffle to gather information on the participants in the raffle. Now, companies doing a raffle have access to real time analytics. This team is quiet but probably one of the top-notchers in terms of revenue. Tambio joined the program in 2014, with just an idea, our program was just starting to take shape and we were learning what we should and shouldn’t do — we still made a lot of mistakes on that year. It was the second year of the program but sometimes it still felt like the blind leading the blind but they believed in us. Thanks Team Tambio.

To Ken Nieto’s left is Rio Ilao of Tarkie (Cohort 4–2016). Tarkie is a workforce management and productivity solution that helps companies improve the performance of their field employees. Rio is the most experienced entrepreneur to join our program. She and her husband Jerry built a company called Ink-All-You-Can. Why would an experienced entrepreneur, who once had a stellar career at Procter and Gamble think she needed IdeaSpace? Rio gave us confidence. 2016 is our 4th year of running the program, with a lot more structure now, she and her team validated that it was good for startups like theirs — those with about 2 years into the business. She says we made them aim higher and dream bigger — we feel the same way too. Thank you Team Tarkie.

To Rio’s left is Elaine De Velez of FrontLearners (Cohort 3–2015). FrontLearners is an e-learning content developer and customized eschool solutions provider for K-12 schools. Elaine and her husband Leo, joined us after running their company for 2 years on their retirement money. By joining the program, they said they learned so much, with over 40 years combined experience in well known multinationals, our program proved to also be relevant to former senior executives who used to manage millions of dollars. Thank you Team FrontLearners.

To Butch Meily’s left is Au Soriano of Pinoy Travel (Cohort 1–2013). Pinoy Travel is the Philippines, first on-line bus booking reservation system. Au, is a woman who has spent many years in the telco business, name the major telcos — this woman has it, she has an impressive CV with extensive exposure in the telco industry. Because she joined us when we still did not know what we had to do, her consistent questioning of why we do things helped us define what we needed to do. I clearly recall the time she called us out that we were not spending enough time with the startups. It was a wake up call, all that marketing of IdeaSpace did not mean much if we didn’t concentrate on providing the support, time and focus on the needs of the startups. Pinoy Travel has witnessed our peaks and valleys and vice-versa. Sometimes they caused the valley, sometimes they caused the peaks and vice versa. Thank you Team Pinoy Travel, thank you for the faith. It’s really been a great ride with you guys (pardon the pun).

Lastly, on Au Soriano’s left is Zes Martinez of Fame Aviationapp (Cohort 3- 2015). FAME is a device hardware and software platform primarily intended for general aviation aircraft and small boats using LoRa. Almost all IdeaSpace teams hustle to the max, but this one is probably one of the most active. They are relentless! Their energy is amazing — don’t say that being physically differently abled will slow you down and prevent you from moving forward. One member is deaf, another member has no arms and codes with his feet. Ask me for an example of the can do attitude — I have many, but the team top of my list is FAME. There isn’t a day that we don’t get updated on the number of companies in the maritime and airline industry and even agencies of the Philippine government are asking them to pitch and propose their product. Even if our policy has shifted to equity-free funding, teams like FAME continue to behave like we were still their investor. I do not have a doubt that their future investors will be constantly kept informed. Thanks Team FAME.

These are just some of our blue-flame founders in our portfolio. What is blue flame? Well, I’ll reserve that topic for another post. This one is too long already. 
But it’s never too long to express our thanks. Thanks to our top customers — the startups. The customers who believe in our program — the startups. The customers who continue to travel the long journey. You inspire us! With a month to go before the deadline, my prayer is — may we find more like you. My colleagues and I are truly grateful for allowing us to be part of your journey.

This post is part of the Burn Story Series, from the perspective of the IdeaSpace team on working with the current batch of startups.

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