Rene "Butch" Meily of QBO Innovation Hub

A home for risk-takers

By Michaela Villaroman


Risks are a big part of creating something new. There will always be an air of uncertainty in attempting to make breakthroughs and trying to push for innovation. But while the possibility of failing could be off-putting, choosing to take a risk can sometimes lead to amazing things.


Entrepreneurs know that risk-taking is a part of their job. A business’ triumph is not always guaranteed, so it takes real bravery and ingenuity to become successful. Despite being aware of certain perils that come with the profession, entrepreneurs continue to strive and stick to it. Why is that so? Simply because they know that the pay-offs could make even the greatest risks worth it.


Traditionally, Filipinos opt for secure careers. It is understandable to want stability, so it does make sense that the concept of entrepreneurial risk-taking isn’t encouraged from the get-go.


Rene “Butch” Meily, President of QBO Innovation Hub, shared, “We’re trying to change that culture because it can sometimes be a very risk-averse culture. A lot of parents would tell their children not to try this – ‘Wag ka na diyan! (Don’t do that!)’ because it’s risky.” The status quo often dictates children to take up a profession in law or medicine where they are more likely to have secure careers.


This kind of mentality could potentially take away great opportunities from Filipinos. Fresh ideas and ingeniousness may be wasted because of either discouragement or lack of support and guidance.


In an effort to change this, Butch established the QBO Innovation Hub.



Butch Meily’s story


Butch Meily had always known that his mission is to empower local Filipino startups, but it took him a few years to be able to concretize exactly how he could help out.


Butch was born in the Philippines but left to study abroad. He spent a lot of time in the United States, working there for almost 20 years. He worked at Beatrice International as the Vice President of Public Relations for much of his time in New York, gaining plenty of valuable experience in the field.


Eventually, he was offered a chance to work in the Philippines. “I met Manny Pangilinan, the Chairman and CEO of PLDT, and he asked me to come back home. I spent more than 20 plus years overseas and I had come home because of him,” Butch shared.


Coming back to the Philippines, he took the role as Special Assistant to Chairman and First Vice President of PLDT Smart Foundation. It was through this that he became a part of the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation.


In 2009, when the Ondoy typhoon disaster hit, most areas in the Philippines were left devastated. “The Philippines had no Doppler radar, so we just knew it was going to rain but we didn’t know the intensity,” Butch recalled, “We were asked by the President at the time, President Arroyo, to set up a public private sector partnership. That was the start of the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation.” The foundation helped with disaster preparation and response, and ever since, its model has been used around the globe.


Manny Pangilinan asked Butch to collaborate once more and help out with Ideaspace. Butch told us that his longtime dream of promoting and helping local startups was on its way to being realized from there.


He started QBO, the innovation hub he has been wanting to create.


A kubo for the Filipino startup community


The name QBO was derived from the Filipino word “kubo,” which serves as a one-room house. It was named as such because Butch wanted his company to represent a “home” for the local startup community. He wanted to create a platform where Filipino entrepreneurs could develop their ideas and their businesses.


“We do everything we can to help them,” Butch said.


Through QBO, collaboration is made possible as it serves as an avenue for both the public and private sector to network. QBO’s hub also serves as a productive office space for entrepreneurs and their team to work and discuss ideas.


“Now the other thing we’re looking at is raising a core of retired senior executives. And we have a ton of them,” Butch shared, “They’d like nothing better than to help mentor these startups.” Giving importance to the value of experience, Butch makes sure that startups may have the chance to learn from people who have attained success in the field.


Providing startups with connections, space, and mentorship, QBO ensures to give them a better opportunity to truly actualize their plans and ideas.



Breaking the status quo


Looking at the bigger picture, success doesn’t just mean being triumphant in a high risk venture. It includes making an impact on other people’s lives.


Entrepreneurs who find success in their businesses are able to provide people with job opportunities as well as inspire other innovators to follow suit.


Running a meaningful business that makes a positive impact on society should definitely be added to the prescribed career norms of today. Butch wants to change this standard in Philippine culture. He wants people to “see an alternate path and decide that if they start their own company, they can become rich and, in turn, help this country.”


Through QBO, ideas and startups are given the space and opportunity to grow, ensuring that a brighter tomorrow with more possibilities is indeed on its way for the Filipino startup community.