Founder Spotlight: Nicole Paterno of 1,000 Angels

The Start-up Ecosystem of the Philippines

By Andeng Dizon

There is no denying that the Philippine start-up ecosystem is relatively young. However, its potential is bright due to innovation and the number of public and private initiatives laid down for its future. One of the three key factors, why it has a big potential, is its young population. With over 105 million Filipinos living here and abroad, the young workforce is ready to contribute to the economy. Furthermore, the country has strong remittances from overseas Filipinos workers abroad, which fuels the ongoing increase of its economic capacity.

The second key factor is the proficiency of Filipinos in English, making the country more attractive for foreign investors. The last is the Philippines' improving the business climate. The elements why the country's business climate is on the rise are its minuscule trouble with international securities, lesser reliance on exports, comparatively strong local consumption of goods and services, large remittances from overseas Filipino workers as stated before, and a quickly expanding business process outsourcing industry.

Also, number of local entrepreneurs is on the rise, and with them are brilliant and fresh ideas for their future ventures that would benefit the economy. But their biggest challenge to face is the lack of funding. Most Filipinos are incapable of financing their start-ups unless they came from an affluent background. With that being said, this makes the Philippines the perfect ground for angel investing. Although it is a new method introduced to the local start-up ecosystem, it has been slowly making its way through the business field.

A fair share of angel investing firms has appeared on the market, and of them is the promising 1,000 Angels.


The start-up ecosystem of the Philippines


"Yes, we do."

That was Nicole Paterno's reply when one of her business colleagues asked her if they should find solutions for problems the local start-up ecosystem currently faces. Nicole Paterno is the founder and current chief executive officer of 1,000 Angels, a Philippine-based start-up firm that allows local start-ups gain more access to funding by connecting its members to vast opportunities. Prior to 2012, the Philippine start-up ecosystem was selective, since the only people benefiting from it are the ones who could afford to invest.

"It was not democratize until now," says Paterno in the interview.

Imagine a spectrum with two extreme opposite points. On the left are the beginning and early stage start-ups, and on the right are the established ones. Meanwhile, in the middle are the angel investors. If you were one of them, to which end would you go? Of course, you would go to the right to ensure your money would not be put to waste.  That is where the problem lies. There is a detachment between emerging start-ups and angel investors, and it would continue until someone provides a solution for it. "That is the reason why I wanted to make a bridge between those two," declared the founder of 1,000 Angels.

So she did.


The tech-savvy Filipino


Technology is a marvelous invention. Since its rise, entrepreneurs have found ways to make businesses out of it, or at least by using its services. Ventures born from technology would do well in the local start-up ecosystem. After all, Filipinos have always been tech-savvy. Both dubbed as the “Social Networking Capital of the World” and "Texting Capital of the World", Filipinos have found ways to involve it to their daily lives, creating a wide range of demands for services that utilizes technology to cater to their needs.

As previously mentioned, the main problem of the Philippine start-up ecosystem is the lack of funding. Filipino tech-savvy business funders and investors have voiced out that capital is indeed available. The question is how would they use it effectively? With these question in hand comes the answer. 1,000 Angels aims to renew traditional investors by transforming them into tech-savvy investors. But before they become one, they need to be educated on the state of the Philippine start-up ecosystem first.


What 1,000 Angels does

1,000 Angels is the bridge between local start-ups and angel investors while providing its members the opportunity to network and exchange their learning and insights. The company also offers measurement-building programs for both investor and entrepreneur.

Angels are offered Investor Education sessions where they prepare portfolios to determine their interests, risk appetites, and investment sizes. In addition, new angels would have the chance to meet veteran angels and start-up founders. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, would take part in Halo Sessions, a specific period created for them to meet with their future funders. But before attending one, they need to attend practice sessions first. It would help them find or create innovative ideas worth investing in.

1,000 Angels promises to deliver effective and efficient results. Paterno's goal to be the bridge that closes the gap between the young and budding start-ups and experienced angel investors is slowly coming into reality. Her company is dedicated to finding solutions and building relations for a clearer future of the Philippine start-up ecosystem, which is a daring effort to do so.


Disclaimer: Nicole Paterno's 1,000 Angels is not to be confused with OneVest's 1,000 Angels, a New York-based start-up firm.