Diane Eustaquio of IdeaSpace

Turing Ideas Into Reality

By Andeng Dizon

The absence of a concrete plan for nation-building is the Philippines' greatest challenge today. According to Heritage’s recent article about the country’s economic freedom for 2016, the Philippine economy has been growing steadily for the past five years at an average annual rate of six percent despite several problems like poverty and poor infrastructure. To top it off, the government has been passing legislative reforms to enhance the entrepreneurial environment and private sector to create a broader job growth.


And yet, most of its citizens have not experienced its rewards. All Filipinos should feel the benefits of the growing economy. It is only crucial to spread out the payback of the Philippines’ huge economic turnaround among its citizens, especially those who are living in poverty. But how could they benefit from it if they are not properly contributing to the economy? The problem is not only underemployment or unemployment but also the quality of jobs that are offered.


Put it this way. The economy is the car, and entrepreneurship is the oil. Obviously, you need oil in order to make the car work. If you want to see the Philippine economy function well, you need entrepreneurship for that. And if you want your car to work for the long run, you need a good quality of the oil. The entrepreneurship community must be honed. It is the solution to the country’s economic problems because it could generate wealth, provide jobs and empower lives. It is more than just an economic term; it is a way of thinking and living.


Turning ideas into reality

Every like-minded Filipino visionary believes that the path to nation-building involves entrepreneurship, which would pave the way for innovation and development. “Filipinos need the right opportunity to turn their ideas into a reality,” said Diane Estaquio during her interview with TechShake. Estaquio is the executive director of IdeaSpace, a non-profit organization that nurtures the organic growth of early-stage start-ups by providing seed funding, and also by incubating and accelerating them.


There are only a few start-up incubators and accelerators in the Philippines, and IdeaSpace has been one of the frontrunners when the Philippine start-up ecosystem started to flourish. The company is dedicated to turning ideas of bright, young Filipino entrepreneurs to reality not just by providing funding and mentorship, but also by offering programs that would benefit both the entrepreneur and the community. PinoyTravel, Tactiles, and TimeFree Innovations are some of their start-ups that have become successful, and there are more to come to be a part of their success story.


The community of start-ups

“It takes a whole community to help a start-up stand on its feet.”


The Philippine start-up ecosystem or community is quite new, but together with its fellow Southeast Asian countries, it is an untapped and promising place for tech start-ups. It has started to grow four years ago when a small number of incubators and accelerators – comprised of foreigners and Filipinos that have been educated and or have worked overseas – have appeared in the scene. Their main task is to help the local entrepreneurs launch their respective businesses by allocating funding from investors.


But most investors do not understand how to provide a capital for a tech start-up. Since tech start-ups have yet to make a name for themselves in the local scene, most investors are unsure whether they should invest in a start-up, especially if it is a riskier venture. But these local incubators and accelerators are here to educate them on the subject by showcasing the success stories of their respective start-ups, possible returns and gains from investing, and other advantages unbeknownst to them.


During the Asia Pacific Economic Summit (APEC) last 2015, Gregory Domingo, the secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), addressed the government’s slowness in understanding and supporting the local start-up scene during his opening remarks. But he was quick to rectify his previous statement by informing the audience that DTI has planned to collaborate with IdeaSpace to create nationwide innovation centers with branches positioned near universities in hopes that it would encourage students to join the Philippine start-up scene.


What IdeaSpace does

One of the three programs IdeaSpace offers is Inspire, spearheaded by Dustin Masancay, one of the company’s associate directors. The main purpose of this program is to teach our entrepreneurs to formulate concepts that are not yet “out there” through a series of boot camps, information sessions, hackathons, and ideation workshops. It also aims to foster knowledge and understanding about techno-entrepreneurship, innovation, and the start-up culture.


The second is Incubation, a multi-faceted support program that empowers tech entrepreneurs who have distinct and remarkable ideas by helping them turn these ideas into viable and marketable businesses. They would select ten start-ups that had won from their annual national competition to be the recipients of their seed funding, one-on-one mentorship, and exclusive access to a network of future investors.


The third and the last is Integrate, a program only available after the start-ups have completed the Incubation program. This is the time where they would be send-off to IdeaSpace’s industry partners and stakeholders to collaborate on projects and ventures. Its main purpose is to make their start-ups stand on its two feet. This is the time where they test their skills by applying it in the real world.


As one of the faces of the Philippine start-up ecosystem, IdeaSpace promises to continue its efforts in fostering and nurturing early-stage start-ups in order to contribute to the rising local start-up scene. The men and women behind this company believe that through proper encouragement, education, and training, entrepreneurs would reach their full potential of creating innovation and being the solution to the country’s problems.