Founder Spotlight: Tim Florendo of Historya
A Bridge to One Own's Root: Connecting History, Culture, and Heritage to Today’s Society
In today's age, science and technology are rapidly developing through the years of cultivated human intelligence and continuous evolution from the old to new. Everything you see today is digitalized from tangible newspapers to online journals. It is amazing to see how technology advances and continues to develop even further. There is nothing wrong with using and relying on technology since it reaps good results, such as in the field of medicine and education, but there is the fact that we are slowly neglecting the ancient's relics of civilizations, giving the spirit of humanity and identity.
Where it all began: The Birth of Historya
Tim Florendo is the CEO and co-founder of Historya, a social enterprise that aims to connect people to their history, culture, and heritage through helping the museums with their digital solutions. Before he became involved in the creation of Historya, he had a corporate job and owned an online media company, which aimed to publish real-time updates of basketball games to the people who couldn't watch the game live. In the same year that it started, he had to shut down the company and restarted it in the year of 2009. Unfortunately, he had to give up the business, even though there were definite improvements, because of funding issues.
What made Florendo fascinated with museums started when he visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. back in 2006. When he was at the Holocaust exhibit, he felt various emotions, such as sadness and anger. He mentioned that he felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude that we now live in a peaceful world, and "we don't have to fear our lives for whom we are". He also stated, “we have the ability to make something happen, unlike the people in the Holocaust. Even though they went through so much, they found a way to keep going forward." Also, he realized that museums have the capacity to educate and change people's perspective on the world and in life. For Florendo, because we currently live in peaceful times, there is no excuse for failing as it would only be due to lack of effort, creativity, and interest.
He was invited by a friend in the creation of Historya and at first, they did not have a clear image of what Historya would become, but they had a definite goal of inclining it to history and culture. Thus, they participated in several competitions. One of which is Ideaspace in 2015; they finished as Top 18, but only made it in the Incubator Program. Some of Florendo's co-founders lost their drive in making Historya. Instead of losing hope though, Florendo took the opportunity to lead the team and restarted again from the top. He revised Historya’s business model by improving and deducting parts to make it was more innovative with the concerns raised in the Ideaspace’s competition. He participated again in various competitions to have more feedback then continued to revise and to improve it. Finally in July 2015, he received good feedback in the IBM Business in the Cloud Pitching Competition, Slingshot Manila where Historya even won as 1st Runner-up. Then, he spent that year getting to know the consumers and further improving Historya. He wants to have the ability to put himself in the customers’ shoes just like his Steve Jobs, whom he admires a lot, because he states that feedback is one of the most essential parts in improvement.
Historya: The Bridge for History, Culture, and Heritage Towards the People’s Hearts
Historya is a SAAS platform that provides a solution for museums in gaining more tourists and visitors. Since today's trend is for everything to be digitalized, it is difficult for museums to publicize their exhibits through means of poster advertisements because it is very expensive to build an application for exhibit guides, announcements, and other essential things for museums especially in the provinces since it roughly costs from $80,000 to $100,000 with an additional 15-20% for maintenance fee. Historya enables museums to create their own audio guides for their exhibits and make it available for their visitors in the Historya application. Visitors will be informed of events and special exhibits happening in museums and will only have to download the audio guides from it, and after which, they can roam around the exhibit without waiting for a long period of time to get a museum guide. It gives more freedom and time to appreciate each exhibit, and it relieves the user from the rushing to see everything.
Moreover, the macro-goal for the Historya passport is to pummel tourism funds in cultural and educational heritage because only 6% of the 50 billion peso funds in the tourism industry go to the museums while the most of it go to casinos. The reason for this allocation of the budget is that there are many unknown and unrecognized museums by the government and museums are put in a difficult situation in competing malls and casinos. Adding to the fact that they are not well known, many people prefer having more exciting recreational activities than visiting museums. Thus, with the help of the Historya passport, it gives a list of all the museums existing in the country so that they can also be recognized and for people to visit them.
Challenges and Obstacles: Fulfilling the Noble Cause of Historya
Florendo hopes that there will be more investors attracted to their cause in the future, and that money is not the sole reason for entrepreneurship but also for the betterment of the people and the nation. He is not attempting to change people’s perspectives about the world but he wants to open their minds to the significance of history, culture, and heritage. For instance, an old vase is not a simple decoration with its only value being its antiquity, but it is an embodiment and evidence of the long human history and culture.
Florendo advises aspiring entrepreneurs to have a good judgment of character for their own team. He says, “you need a team to make something happen." All the members should have a strong determination so that in the face of difficulty, they will not easily lose heart. He also treats challenges as a source for development because of his father's example. He recalled that his father did many labor jobs in his younger days like dressmaking and construction work due to financial problems. One day, when their house was being renovated, a carpenter had difficulty in hammering. So, his father taught the carpenter how to do his task. The carpenter asked how his father knew how to do it, and his father replied that he was once a carpenter. The carpenter then thought that his father once experienced poverty. His father simply stated, "I was not poor. I was enriching myself," because through carpentry and dressmaking, his hands became trained to be steady and precise, which helped him become the well-known neurosurgeon he is today. It shows that there may be many challenges that one can face but it is important not to lose heart, to continue to persevere, and to do whatever you can.
Florendo is determined to continue Historya, and to make Historya the product of their vision: to connect people to their history, culture, and heritage. Historya aims to be a medium where people can reconnect themselves to their own history, culture, and heritage. As the design of the Historya logo presents, in which the four corners of the letter ‘H’ are designed as windows in the Spanish era, Historya will serve as a ‘window' to see the world in a different light. It is important to have strong cultural literacy because it is the foundation for nation building and our Filipino identity. Hence, Historya aims to contribute in remembering and honoring our own history, culture, and heritage to rekindle the Filipino spirit.