Geeks living a dream
Now that startups are also becoming popular, I also wish that we can build our own Instagram or other Made-in-the Philippines company bought for 1 billion dollars by Facebook. It seems like a far-fetched dream … but we got to start somewhere.
Even as I gathered years of experience working in Silicon Valley as a marketer and researcher in the tech industry, I have always kept this dream alive. I thought that if Pinoys can succeed abroad then why can’t they succeed at home?
The journey to make this dream a reality began in 2010 when I founded TechTalks.ph (TT), a non-profit, independent community of business, technology and startup enthusiasts.
TT began with 16 people, mostly my friends and colleagues in the tech industry who loved startups, technology, and design. We held regular meetups allowing members to network, share ideas, learn new skills and discover growing opportunities in the field of technology. Meetups are informal meetings centered around specific topics of interest.
Today TT has now grown to 2,000 members with over 6,000 people meeting up in 9 chapters of 9 cities in the Philippines. Membership to www.techtalks.ph is free and open to anyone.
In my travels with DOST-ICTO to promote ICT careers in the provinces, I realized that TechTalks.ph could serve as a farm-to-market highway for aspiring Steve Jobs of the provinces.
I refer to them as tech “geeks” aka software engineers, computer scientists, software developers, web designers, hobbyists, anyone who uses a computer to create cool programs on the web or via mobile platforms.
Much like a farmer uses the highway to sell his goods in the local market, geeks in the provinces can attend a local TechTalks.ph meetup and connect to resources to help him/her move up the ladder of success.
One of the things we are doing at TT to help empower local entrepreneurs is organize Startup Weekend (SW) workshops. This weekend long event allows participants to experience pitching ideas, founding startups, and launching successful ventures.
With the support of DOST-ICTO, Globe Telecom, Kickstart.ph, Google, Microsoft, other sponsors and TechTalks.ph volunteers, we were able to organize nine Startup Weekends.
We also started dreaming of bigger things. Together with friend Earl Valencia, president and co-founder of IdeaSpace Foundation Inc., I thought of hosting a “mega Startup Weekend tech gathering.”
Earl suggested to have the gathering at the beach which got the ball rolling for “Geeks On A Beach” (GOAB), a name inspired by Silicon Valley’s “Geeks On A Plane.”
Geeks On A beach is an international conference for those who are passionate about technology, startups, design, and making the world a better place. GOAB invaded the shores of Boracay in 2013 bringing along 329 geeks from all over the world.
With 17 countries represented and world class speakers, GOAB was an event no techie wanted to miss. It was co-presented by Smart Communications, SmartBro, and Ideaspace.ph.
GOAB showcased to the world the talent and opportunities in the Philippine tech industry and provided the invaluable opportunity for Philippine startups to network with international founders and investors.
What’s unique about GOAB is the format. Because it’s held in the beach, there’s room not only for serious lectures but also more laidback discussions and fun networking parties that live up to the event’s motto of ‘work hard, play harder.’
This resulted in local startups such as Zipmatch.com receiving local and international investment. Finally, the Philippines was starting to appear on the startup world map.
We want to continue this momentum. Thus, Geeks On A Beach is coming back! This time on the shores of Cebu on August 21-22.
And, this time Dave McClure himself, the Chief Geek of “Geeks on a Plane”, is scheduled to speak. Tickets, opportunity to sponsor and more details can be found on geeksonabeach.com.
Taking these little steps towards making my dream for the Philippine startup community come true would not have been possible without the wonderful people around me.
I could not have established TechTalks.ph without my founding partners, especially entrepreneurs Dave Overton (Sym.ph) and Mark Buenconsejo (Caresharing.com). DOST-ICTO, Bowei Gai of World Startup Report, and others have helped mold TT to what it is today.
I acknowledge that there is an urgent need to get more supporters who give back to make the promising Philippine startup community to succeed. Until that day comes I will continue to dare to make this dream a reality. – Rappler.com