PH Startups 101: An introduction (Part 1)


You’ve seen and heard the word “startup,” you’ve probably used it a few times; you may even have toyed around with the idea of engaging with startups for work. But what exactly are startups—and what are they like here in the Philippines?

In this series of entries, we’ll arm you with some basic information to begin navigating the Philippine startup ecosystem and terrain.

First, a definition

Startup scribble

There are many definitions of the word “startup,” just as there are many startups themselves.

One definition, given by Neil Blumental of retail company Warby Parker, and quoted in this Forbes piece, says, “A startup is a company working to solve a problem where the solution is not obvious and success is not guaranteed.”

It has the following operative terms:

  • “Company”: meaning, not non-profit; it is an organization built to make money
  • “Problem”: a startup (almost) always defines itself through the problem, gap, or opportunity it is trying to address
  • “Success”: definitely not guaranteed, especially not financially at the beginning, and various startups will have different measures of success. However, metrics will always be important

A second definition, given by Stanford professor Steve Blank and quoted in this Business Insider piece, says a startup is “an organization formed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model.”

Here, the keywords are:

  • “Repeatable”: There should be some consistency regarding systems, processes, and outcomes so that you can replicate them on a larger scale (often with proprietary technology), hence…
  • “Scalable”: The organization and its products and services should be designed to accommodate growth or expansion—sometimes rapidly—precisely because it hopes to address a pressing problem, gap, or opportunity

You’ll also see a lot of news regarding startups and funding. In a Tech Crunch piece defining startups, writer Alex Wilhelm says startups are those who fall below these numbers:

  • USD50 million revenue run rate (forward 12 months)
  • 100 or more employees
  • Worth more than USD500 million, on paper or otherwise

In über-layman’s terms (pun intended), a startup:

Photo source:
  • Hopes to solve a problem…
  • Solve it in a big way…
  • Using replicable, scalable systems and technology…
  • And hopes to grow big, but once it’s too big it’s no longer considered a “startup”

In the Philippines…

Although there’s a lot of activity and buzz around the local startup ecosystem, the Philippines has only around 100 active startups and is still far from its goal of supporting at least 500 startups by the year 2020.

An article in Tech in Asia shares an infographic on the Philippine startup ecosystem, as well as its key players, highlights, and opportunities. Here, we are publishing excerpts of the infographic, with permission from the article’s writer, Judith Balea. To get a fuller overview, please refer to the piece, “What you need to know about the Philippine startup scene (INFOGRAPHIC).”

In what categories do local startups operate?

In this excerpt of the Tech in Asia infographic, you’ll see where the “opportunities” for startup-wannabes lie and, therefore, where the markets are already saturated—or waiting for the next big idea to emerge.

Tech in Asia - opportunities in the PH startup space
Source:, published with permission from Judith Balea of Tech in Asia

Who are the key players in this ecosystem?

Another excerpt of the Tech in Asia infographic shows the companies in an “active investors” list, as well as the number of startups under its purview.

Tech in Asia - Active Investors List
Source:, published with permission from Judith Balea of Tech in Asia


In the next installment of this series, we’ll introduce you to some of the other names you’ll need to know in this space, as well as the places and events you’ll need to check out in order to get acquainted with the Pinoy startup community.

Stay tuned!

Aside from her day job in McCann Worldgroup Philippines, Niña Terol is a startup enthusiast, a mentor with the Founder Institute, and a Philippine Ambassador of the Rice Bowl Startup Awards.


  1. elitatt on Flickr Creative Commons
  2. Niña Terol
  4. Tech in Asia
  5. Tech in Asia


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