SoGal Manila Pitch Competition: A Platform for Women Founders to Showcase Their Ideas and Access Funding

A lot of pitch competitions have emerged over the last year, especially in the startup ecosystem. What’s special about SoGal’s Pitch Competition is it is specifically for women and underrepresented founders. TechShake talked with Vera Lummis, one of the SoGal Manila Chapter Leads, to know more about SoGal and their initiative.

Diversity and Representation

SoGal Foundation, a non-profit on a mission to close the diversity gap in entrepreneurship, hosted the first ever Manila regional round of the SoGal Global Pitch Competition, the largest global pitch competition for women and underrepresented founders. Winners from each regional round competition will travel to Silicon Valley to participate in SoGal’s three day immersive educational bootcamp for guaranteed facetime with top Silicon Valley investors, curated educational programming, unparalleled 1:1 mentorship, press opportunities, as well as compete on the global level to win a portion of $600K USD in investment capital. Manila is one of over 25 regional rounds hosted in SoGal chapters across five continents. Other regional rounds were hosted in New York, London, Lagos, Chicago, Berlin, Singapore, and Tokyo, to name a few.

The Manila pitch competition was held on December 4 at QBO. 15 women-founded startups were selected to pitch, including Fortuna Cools Co., Suitd, MachiBox Inc., Isdabest, Magwai, Workbean, Olivia Technology Group, Inc, Dearest Ltd, Saphron, Container Living PH, Wayste, 1Export., Forth Co., Blue Skin, and Agrabah Ventures. The 15 startups pitching were selected out of a competitive pool of 37 applications, all from early stage women-founded startups.

The panel of judges at the Manila round, including Priya Thachadi (Villgro Philippines), Paulo Campos (Zalora), Johanna Wiese (Mistletoe Global) and Greg Perez (xchange), selected three winners to move on to the final round in Silicon Valley next February. The winners—1Export, Magwai, and Isdabest—represent a range of industries, from trade services to skincare to aquaculture. Notable was the number of startups focused on sustainability and impact.

SoGal Foundation’s Global Pitch Competition represents the first and largest opportunity for women and diverse entrepreneurs and investors to connect worldwide.

 SoGal Manila

SoGal Manila Chapter Leads

Vera shared with us that they saw SoGal is active in Southeast Asia but there was no chapter here in the Philippines. They then decided to volunteer and start a chapter here just last September adding to the 46 chapters of SoGal around the globe. They chose SoGal out of the many non-profit organizations on entrepreneurship because of its mission of helping women and underrepresented founders. In addition, SoGal’s global network offers a lot for the founders here in the Philippines. “SoGal is really focused on empowering these local chapters. They provide chapter leads with resources and support, but also give them a lot of independence in making events happen.”

She told us that each chapter operates independently with the leadership and guidance from SoGal’s headquarters in New York City. “Each chapter understands its own ecosystem best, and does what it can to support women and underrepresented entrepreneurs. In the Philippines, we are focused on supporting women founders.”

Given the early stages of the Manila chapter, Vera shared that there are some challenges they are preparing for, such as keeping the momentum going and generating interest for their upcoming events. Another challenge for them will be to expand their network to a wider community.

On the other hand, their launch event and pitch competition proved that these challenges were overcome by the team. For 2020 they are planning to do more events and connect with other organizations in the ecosystem as well. They are also looking for people that are passionate about entrepreneurship who can join their team. “We want people to identify SoGal Manila as an initiative that’s actually sustainable and not just a one-time event. We really want to be a community platform for women founders in the Philippines.”

Click here to know more about SoGal.