Founder Spotlight: Jorgie Azurin of Horsepower
Tech Entrepreneurship and the Benefits of Local Entrepreneurs
The birth of the Internet has changed the entrepreneurship scene in ways we could not have expected. It has opened countless opportunities for entrepreneurs, such as allowing them to retail their products and services on a global scale. Because of it, technology entrepreneurship was born. Tech entrepreneurship is a new business method that involves taking a piece of a technological idea in order to turn it into a commercial opportunity with a strong potential for profit. To achieve success, tech entrepreneurs need to gather resources, such as talent and capital, figure out how to sell and market their ideas, and deal with the rapid growth of demand.
Many people think entrepreneurship solely exists to gain profit because it is an activity of providing goods and services. But little did they know that there is more to it than just earning money. Entrepreneurs know that the purpose of their businesses is to contribute to society in new ways that would also convenience their consumers. The backbone of entrepreneurship is innovation, and it is used to create solutions for society’s problems. The problem is these new-age heroes do not have an easy access to benefits due to present disadvantageous conditions in a resistive start-up environment.
The Philippine start-up ecosystem started growing only in 2012. Prior to that, it was borderline non-existent. The cold reality is entrepreneurs are having a hard time obtaining benefits since there are not enough government initiatives that support the industry. Benefits such as health care, financial services, and legal assistance are easily obtained by large conglomerates and not by small to medium-sized enterprises. Luckily, there is a business that caters to their needs, and TechShake had the chance to interview the man behind this new and ingenious enterprise.
What Horsepower does
Horsepower is a subscription-based business that provides human resource services to its clients: professionals, freelancers, solo entrepreneurs, self-employed individuals, small to medium-sized enterprises, and others. They use a cloud-based SaaS platform, providing its members a secure technology platform that they could trust. Since Horsepower is a company that offers a membership program, its members have an exclusive access to its benefits.
Their most well-known service is providing HMO and healthcare plans, but they have since branched out to other forms. Firstly, they offer effortless payment of utility bills and monthly contributions to government agencies. The next is the provision of tax and legal support. The company also offers co-working spaces and the members also have the access to the company's online payroll and accounting system. Lastly, they offer retail rewards and referral programs to their loyal members.
The serial entrepreneur
It seems no one could accurately define Jorge Azurin, one of the household names of the Philippine start-up community. Jorge, who is fondly called as Jojy, is a self-styled serial entrepreneur known for owning at least a dozen start-ups and mentoring more than a hundred young start-up founders. A mechanical engineering graduate, he first worked as a researcher in his alma mater. Jojy then switched careers from engineering to programming after he developed a passion for it. As a programmer, he was exposed to technology's potential for profit in the market. Because he also has an inclination in business, he has decided to build technology-enabled ventures.
“I will start building businesses on the Internet,” he said during the interview.
Jojy is known for his tech start-ups. If you follow the trend in the start-up scene, you might have encountered or heard his name. He made great waves in the field of information technology (IT), and as well by co-founding several groundbreaking tech companies in the fields of the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, online content publishing sites, and e-commerce. There is no denying he is considered as a mentor for aspiring entrepreneurs because of his success story. But unbeknownst to many, before he became the Jojy that he is known today, he was a Jojy who struggled and failed.
After studying Mechanical Engineering as a scholar at the University of the Philippines, he took up units in M.A. Economics at the University of Asia and the Pacific. Some time after, he founded his own company in the information technology industry. It attracted local and foreign investors, and it became the country’s number one programming company. But since he was young and immature, the company eventually closed. The reason why is because he was only good in one field, and that is in sales. A successful entrepreneur is a well-rounded individual, and he must be good in crucial fields such as finance, public management, and human resources. A lot of individuals are afraid of failing or making mistakes, and it only fuels our risk adverse culture.
But Jojy used his failure as his motivation to bounce back. Now, he is at the top of his game.
The future of Filipino tech start-ups
Hailed as the world’s second fastest rising economy last year, the Philippines makes a great breeding ground for tech start-ups despite its atrociously slow Internet speed (3.6 Mbps at its best) and erratic mobile coverage, especially in distant provinces. But problems such as these are the main reason why the future is bright for the local start-up scene. Local entrepreneurs have taken it themselves to deliver promising technology-driven solutions to existing problems. Successful companies would only attract foreign investors that want to test the market. Meanwhile, consumers who are desperate for answers would result in patronizing their products and services.
The Philippines’ potential to be a thriving tech start-up community in the Southeast Asian region is the result of a shifting mindset and hard work done by men and women like Jorge Azurin, who did not let mistakes and failures overshadow his potential for greatness.