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Gov’t backing, training needed to boost startups

The luxurious Bellevue Resort in Panglao - host of the 4th GOAB Photo courtesy of Bellevue Hotel Bohol

Industry expert weighs in on local startup scene

The role of government in the upgrading of startups along with continuous training of these new entrepreneurs can never be overestimated as evidence has become clearer that these business newcomers need all the assistance they can get in order to survive in the dog-eat-dog world of startups.

More than ever, startups should be private sector-driven and strongly backed by government in order to provide the ideal ecosystem with minimum interference. This means each sector should fulfill their own respective scope of duties and responsibilities while complementing each other for a more harmonious set-up.

“The government should also establish a creative center for entrepreneurs in order to ensure these entrepreneurs figure out the business landscape. In other words, figuring out the highest yield, in the shortest time, in the most efficient way possible,” related Ashran Dato Ghazi, CEO of the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Center (MaGIC).

While speaking on his topic “Nation-Building by Supporting Startups” during the 4th Geeks On A Beach (GOAB) held last month at The Bellevue Resort in Panglao, Bohol, which attracted nearly 500 local and international delegates from the tech and startup field, Ghazi pointed out that the dearth of new ideas is getting flat since many are beginning to share the same ideas. Hence the need for catalysts to inject fresh and novel concepts as sourced from different viewpoints.

To be fair, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) along with the private sector has set up FabLabs in at least three separate locations in Cebu and other parts in the country to build and encourage the incubation of new ideas in hopes of creating star apps in the near future.

Ghazi remarked that the challenge lies on the youth, who have become quite impressionable on external events, but only a select few can get through it and understand its full impact on the industry and adjust accordingly.

Startup tips

He added that startups also need to look at several tiers of the government agency concerned and determine which level would be of utmost benefit to the startups instead of pitching the idea to just about anyone in the office and hope for support in the near future.

This calls for homework in determining the right contact person and the resources at that person’s disposal in order to avoid wastage of time and effort in the maze of the office bureaucracy.

In the Philippine setting, one needs to conduct a careful overview of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to narrow down the contact person ideally suited.

Microsystems also have to be developed and maintained in order to establish a solid base so as to serve as a stepping-stone to the next level as the entrepreneurs do their homework thoroughly and completely from the start.

“Also needed are private sector guys or consultants that possess earnest convictions and the hunger to create change in the industry. It is also important that the budding entrepreneurs pitch their ideas correctly and avoid getting exploited by large companies,” Ghazi disclosed.

The speaker related an instance of a large telecom company that promised assistance to a startup only if it would join the company and get absorbed in their entire operations.

He also toyed with the idea of rewarding promising apps with US$10,000 to US$15,000 and putting in money for the debt level and becoming part of the supply chain so that funds would not dry up and instead be self-generating and sustainable for the benefit of the startup.

Ghazi was one of over 50 speakers at the 4th GOAB – a gathering of communities of startups and innovation-driven enterprises.