Young technopreneurs standout at YouthHack Manila 2014

MANILA, Philippines – YouthHack Manila, an educational organization run by young entrepreneurs passionate about technology and entrepreneurship, recently held the first ever technopreneurship competition for high school students in the Philippines entitled, “YouthHack Manila 2014” in Gates Professional Schools.

There were 19 participating high school teams from all over Manila.

The main objectives of the competition were to encourage the highschools’ brightest young minds to  create innovative ideas and turn them into actual products. The goal is to equip them with the right skills and provide an environment where entrepreneurship, creativity, ideation, innovation and problem solving is cultivated.

The two-day event was filled with workshops to help the students learn more about their specialization in the context of technopreneurship, and also gave them the opportunity to apply the skills they’ve learned from the workshops by creating an actual product and business plan, which they will then pitch to a panel of investors. 

Keynote speaker Earl Valencia, President and Co-Founder of IdeaSpace Foundation and VP of Corporate Innovation at SMART Communications, encouraged participants to pursue their start-up ideas by thinking about needs from around the world. Goldy Yancha, IdeaSpace Community Development Consultant, challenged the participants to zone in on community problems and pain points.

Another big lesson was how communication is crucial to business. Jorge Azurin of gave a Lean Canvas and Entrepreneurship workshop that helped participants condense their business proposals to fit into a single sheet of paper. And finally how does one execute a dream? Kalibrr CEO Paul Rivera talked about the different steps starting entrepreneurs should take in order to turn great ideas into tangible output. 

Why was this event mounted? Co-Founder and event Chairman of YouthHack Manila 2014 David Ongchoco saw the need when he was applying for college abroad. This was just about a year ago. “I came across an abundance of hackathons, business plan competitions and entrepreneurial programs and I saw that even high school students were working on innovative projects and venturing to start their own businesses. I asked why this wasn’t the case in the Philippines?”

Pitches, presentations, bright ideas

On the second day of the event, Asia-Pacific Student Entrepreneurship Society (ASES) Philippines President Jaime Young gave a short pitch about, well, pitching. According to Young, people sell themselves to their peers every day. CEOs defend their decisions to a board of trustees. Teenagers need to justify an allowance increase to their parents. He encouraged the YouthHack participants to focus on the values embedded in their products instead of just merely selling the products themselves.

After the talk, all 19 teams went back into working on each of their product. They also had to prepare pitches for YouthHack judges Ralph Wansch, Dexter Qua, Goldy Yancha, and Paul Ghadi.

After more than two hours’ worth of presentations, three teams were named the winners of the first ever high school hackathon in the Philippines. 

The moment of judgment

The third and second prizes went to Pisay Palaka of Philippine Science High School-Main Campus and Team Apex of Xavier School. They were awarded Informatics scholarships and free working space from 

The grand prize was given to Micro Mafia of St. Paul College Pasig for their teen-friendly app called Pollitka. An app for election season, it gives an overview of candidates running for different positions by gamifying the learning process. The five members were granted P10,000 in cash, P50, 000 worth of scholarships from Informatics, and mentoring sessions from IdeaSpace Foundation.

Teresa Naval, a high school senior who was part of the winning team, shares her thoughts on why they chose to make Pollitika: “In two years, we, along with thousands of others, will be voting for the first time.  And, frankly, none of us are familiar with who we'd be voting for or why.  With Pollitika, we aim to make the Filipino youth more politically conscious - or, at the very least, more informed so that they can make their votes count.” –