A Reality Show for Start-ups: The Final Pitch

I am an avid fan of Shark Tank. I love watching Start-up pitch their ideas, even if some are super unprepared. I love seeing the different ideas that people have. Man, there are a lot of unique and creative ideas. I love taking note of the judges questions and I am always amazed at how good they are with numbers. I think Shark Tank is the only show that I watch where I have my notebook by my side to actually take down notes. You may laugh at me (haha!) but I do learn a lot from this show.

In my mind, the end goal really of the start-ups joining the show is either to raise capital (which is pretty normal) or to gain enough publicity to build traction. And for the rest of us watching the show, it’s really for our entertainment and education. Anything that I could learn from, I love!

Imagine my delight when I was invited to the Final Pitch press conference. I didn’t get to go (because I had to focus this week on Taxumo, but I decided to share it anyway. The Final Pitch is something like Shark Tank. The show will challenge entrepreneur contestants in every way — from exploring funding options, refining their business plans, and marketing their products and services. The show is set to air on History Channel this May, 2017

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“The Final Pitch aims to help entrepreneurs find success by connecting them to investors who can finance them, and to mentors who can fine-tune their businesses—reducing risk factors and boosting growth potential and sustainability,” shares the creator and host of The Final Pitch, John Aguilar.

The show will make entrepreneurs go through a series of challenges that will test their creativity, motivation and character. At the same time, they will learn the secrets behind the success of their potential investors, who are also tasked to handpick the top finalists to proceed on the show.

L-R The Final Pitch creator John Aguilar, venture capitalist Jose ‘Jomag’ Magsaysay, CEO of MFT Group of Companies Mica Tan, Chairman and CEO of the Sterling Group of Companies and SL Agritech, Dr. Henry Lim Bon Liong, and Chairman and CEO of Catala Corporation Joseph Calata

L-R The Final Pitch creator John Aguilar, venture capitalist Jose ‘Jomag’ Magsaysay, CEO of MFT Group of Companies Mica Tan, Chairman and CEO of the Sterling Group of Companies and SL Agritech, Dr. Henry Lim Bon Liong, and Chairman and CEO of Catala Corporation Joseph Calata

For Jose ‘Jomag’ Magsaysay, founder of a well-loved global food brand and one of the investors on ‘The Final Pitch’, his picks for the show would be based on whether or not he can see them as future business partners. “I’m looking for people who deserve a break, as I believe in the person more than the business,” he shares.

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Other investors include the multi-awarded Chairman and CEO of the Sterling Group of Companies and SL Agritech, Dr. Henry Lim Bon Liong; self-made billionaire and the youngest chairman of a publicly-listed company in the PSE, Joseph Calata; and lastly, 25-year old millennial CEO of the angel investing group MFT Group of Companies, Mica Tan.

In addition to the potential funding from the investors, contestants will receive business coaching from an esteemed lineup of mentors, who are composed of well-known business experts and inclusive business champions, namely Department of Trade and Industry Secretary, Mon Lopez; former President of MicroVentures, Inc., Senator Bam Aquino; Chairman of Start Up Village, Prof. Jay Bernardo and; President of the Ateneo Center for Entrepreneurship-Masters In Entrepreneurship (ACE-ME), Dr. Andy J. Ferreira, among others.

I think this is a good initiative, because (1) Filipinos need to see that there are a lot of opportunities out there — opportunities to solve problems, opportunities to innovate and opportunities to make a difference; (2) We need to stir up the start-up ecosystem in the Philippines and having more publicity for the entire industry is good (in that way, we, startups won’t have to explain what we actually do, especially to our friends and parents. haha!);  and lastly, (3) We need to strive to be better than we are and let go of that “okay na ako” attitude. We, Filipinos, are very talented individuals and it’s such a waste to see people full of potential not maximize their talents and skills.

So there, these are the reasons why I, personally think, that we need shows and other activities like this. Will we join this competition and represent Taxumo? Maybe. We will have to think about it! haha!

But for those who are ready to join, here are some details:

To join The Final Pitch, applicants will be required to fill up and submit an online entry form to The Final Pitch via its official website www.TheFinalPitch.ph Deadline for submission of entries is until March 17, 2017. Investors interested in becoming a part of the show or investing in the entrepreneurs behind the scenes may also get in touch with The Final Pitch through through its website.

*The Final Pitch’ is produced by Streetpark Productions Inc., the company behind the longest-running real estate and construction TV show Philippine Realty TV. For more info and for sponsorship and partnership inquiries, visit www.TheFinalPitch.ph or call 0917-8136674.

Goodluck to all my readers who want to join! Message me so that we can all watch you!

Online Software for Developers: Samebug’s Renata Irsai from Hungary Shares her Story

interviews-with-business-owners

From one of the largest cities in the European Union, Budapest (in Hungary), a very admirable lady named Renáta Tamási-Irsai runs a technology company. She is one of the women in power that I have met during my short visit to Israel. She is the CEO of Samebug, a technology company.

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Renata founded Samebug with her husband who she married 10 years ago. She is a mother of three young children. “I am raising a child who is different than other people, through this I develop an understanding of what it means not fitting in to society. Using this experience I am able to listen and help other mothers who are in the same situation,” Renata added.

family

Renata also mentions that her Christian faith plays an important role in her life.

She is a very organized person and she love things to be in order in every aspect of her life. She’s a member of the Budapest Toastmaster Club: http://toastmasters.hu/. She is also very passionate about cooking. She loves inviting people either to cook together or eat what they have cooked. In fact, cooking is another shared interest with her husband. “I am an introvert, but if you know me deep and long enough, you would not tell. Reading is my favorite activity when I want be alone,” Renata says. “My goal in life is to get to know the purpose of my life and become the person who I was created to be.”

My interview with Start-up Founder, Renáta Tamási-Irsai, CEO of Samebug

Ginger: Hi Reni! Can you share with my readers what your start-up is about?

Renata: Samebug is an online software startup company that builds a platform to help developers to find solutions to software problems. Simply take a stack trace from a crash, plug it into Samebug (either via a browser or plugin to IntelliJ IDEA or Android Studio) and it will search across over 800,000 (and growing) solutions to determine if the problem causing the crash has been solved by another engineer or not. If it has, Samebug will present the solution, if the problem has not been solved, Samebug will connect you with experts who can help. Founded in 2015, Samebug is headquartered in Budapest, Hungary and owned by a Delaware Corp, Samebug, Inc. The three co-founders are full-time employed, two of them are computer scientists, the CEO has a MBA degree in Finance.

Samebug

Ginger: Your product is a bit technical. I was wondering who your target market is for your product/services?

Renata: 18.5 million developers all over the globe. Our software is a developer tool, the market is given. The technical founders who are developers are solving their own problem. Developers are spoiled all of over the world – they are in high demand as every company is becoming more and more digital. Good developers are expensive and rare. They are used to use development tools free, so it is hard to get them to pay for any tool.

Also in our market the user and the customer is two different person, and you have to find the ways to make both of them happy at the same time.

Ginger: Excellent! So how did you and your husband come up with this idea? What made you decide to start this kind of business?

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Renata: My husband, Árpád has been a developer for 25 years and an entrepreneur for 10 years, developing tailor-made softwares to a financial company. 3 years ago, when the business was struggling and he got his Master degree, we both felt that we need to change what we are doing. Samebug was one of the option out of the three we evaluated, things pointed towards Samebug and we took plunge, jumped and has been doing it for 3 years.

Ginger: Were there any obstacles that you faced when you decided to pursue becoming an Entrepreneur? What are these?

Renata: Lack of knowledge of startup world, funding.

Ginger: Yes, I have to agree. This is what we went through as well. How about anything specific to your country? What are the greatest challenges in putting up and maintaining a business in your country?

Renata, CEO of Samebug

 

Funding. Lack of understanding of the startup world, building a global company and lack of trust. Most of our family and friends do not understand what we are doing, what we are live on and why is it exciting.

Ginger: What are three traits that you think an Entrepreneur/Start-up founder should have when starting their own business?

Renata: Risk taking, commitment and willingness to be different and work hard.

Ginger: Do you have any unforgettable moments or lessons that you learned as an Entrepreneur/Startup Founder?

Renata: I rather let go of what I have worked for and sacrificed a lot rather than doing a bad deal or make compromises on my values.

Ginger: Oh, that’s great! I just read an article yesterday of one company that was looking to hire a CEO that would die working or would rather spend time working than spend time with his family, and I just thought it was so sad. So, what advice can you give to other Entrepreneurs?

Renata: Act as you don’t have Plan B, but have a Plan B to act on it when it is necessary. Be honest and transparent and stick to your values (if they are good) I also don’t believe tha everyone should be entrepreneurs. I believe there are many things that has to play in harmony for someone to be willing to take the risk.

Ginger: What are ways that you can do to raise capital?

Renata: Angel investors abroad and when the product gets to that stage later stage investors in abroad. There is very little chance to raise it in Hungary. The culture of building a global company is almost non-existent. We can provide services and from the money we can fund our startup.

Ginger: What is your growth strategy?

Renata: We are Software-as-a-Service company, selling online and later on targeting major enterprise corporations.

Ginger: Just to give others an ideay, what are tech tools that you use for your business?

Renata: Evernote, Slack, Jira, Skype, Google Docs, Balsamiq Mockup, Sketch

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us today, Renata. Again, it was great having one of the women in power from Hungary join us today! 🙂

If you want to know more about SameBug, here are the details:
Website: https://samebug.io
Email address: renata.tamasi@samebug.io
Mobile Number: +36 70 381 9619
Twitter account: @samebug

It Takes a Village to Raise a Business

For parents, we are all familiar with this statement “It takes a village to raise a child”. I just had a thought the other day while having our weekly check-up meeting with Ideaspace (entity behind the acceleration program we are part of), that the same is true with businesses. We were talking about the value proposition of Taxumo (our startup). In the room, EJ (my husband and CEO), yours truly, Manny and Prim (mentors) and Dustin and Brenda (from Ideaspace) were all pitching ideas and sharing experiences to further solidify our VP, and it was nice to see that everyone was so involved! There was a moment when I stopped and looked at all of them, and thought it takes a village to raise a business, too!

It takes a village to raise a business.

For the longest time, I always thought that there wasn’t anything difficult about putting up a business. Once you overcome that fear and just start turning your concept into reality, it should be that easy. Basically, a business is just a great idea that we implement and that’s it. Making Manila Workshops successful even further strengthened my belief that it’s all about jumping and fast execution. Boy, was I wrong!

In the past year, I have grown leaps and bounds in terms of learning more about putting up a business, and this is because I was open to hearing from other people. There are a lot of things that I see and wished that I could have done better for Manila Workshops. The good thing though is that I could still adjust now and make everything better than how it was. And the other thing is that I could apply what I have learned with this new startup, Taxumo. To tell you honestly, I haven’t had this much clarity as to what I need to do with my business, and this clarity was because I never let anything pass me by (both good or negative inputs about the business).

But being open means also looking at the value of these things. As a startup founder, you need to decipher if these inputs are things that are valuable or things that are not. There are plethora of tools that were explained and given to me by mentors, by our classes,etc. and most of them are available online. These tools are mostly used for validating the need of the customer. The old me would have said, “Doesn’t this lead to analysis-paralysis?”, but since I have seen the value of this process and the value of each tool (from Business Canvas, to QFD, to the Kano model, to strat mapping and usability tests, etc.), I, together with the team, of course, go through each one. As a team, you should talk to each other and discuss what you think are the insights, tips and tools that would make sense for your business.

Being open to listen doesn’t really equate to action or reaction for most of us. For example, even if most of these are readily available online and even if we know that we need to talk to the customers, we are so preoccupied with the idea that our business idea is just so amazing that we think who would not want to purchase or use it? I have been a victim of this (lol!) — in a few business that I have started, which eventually failed. I learned my lesson the hard way, and by validating the need even before you launch it may be the wisest way to go, so that you don’t waste time and effort. You can not know your customer enough. Each day should be a day to look for new insights about the customer.

There is this article from Forbes Magazine that’s circulating the web and it’s the fact that only 10% of the startups make it. Sharing the article here: 90% Of Startups Fail: Here’s What You Need To Know About The 10% This is a very good read!

Just wanted to share my thoughts on this, so go and talk to people. See what they think about your product. You’ll learn a lot from talking to the “villagers”.

My Ideaspace Experience: Ideaspace Bootcamp 2016

“Given both your extensive experiences, why do you want to join Ideaspace?,” Miss Diane Eustaquio, Executive Director of the Ideaspace Foundation asked Dex (our CTO), Alex (CFO), me and my husband, as we went through the first round of interviews. I’ll share with you what we answered, but let me tell you more about Ideaspace’s story and our story before we joined.

Ideaspace’s mission is to encourage, develop, and nurture innovation and entrepreneurship by delivering a multi-faceted support program for science and technology entrepreneurs in the Philippines and in the ASEAN region. Their vision is to build a new Philippine economy that is driven by technology, innovation and entrepreneurship as a path to nation-building. We also asked startups if they knew what Ideaspace was and they told us that Ideaspace is a prestigious incubation program offered by the MVP group which everyone practically wanted to get into.

As CMO of Taxumo, since we started working on the idea January of this year, my role was really more of to take care of looking for possible partnerships for our business and to look for investors. Funding was what most of the people in this industry needed, and at first, I couldn’t understand why. I was used to doing business the traditional way, where you either put in a small amount of capital and grow it little by little or you loan from the bank or from family. But seeing how fast things are in the tech industry, I know now that funding hastens the process of developing your product. So like probably 80% of the startups in this industry (I have yet to validate this figure! haha!), I did what was expected of me — I started looking for funding.

The way people look for funding in this industry is so cool. They join pitch competitions (which we did). They sign up in different platforms visited by different VCs, angels, etc. (which I also did) and they apply to incubator and accelerator programs (which, obviously, I did as well). When Ideaspace called for applications, I sent out our application. We got through the first round and we then had to submit this video for the second round.

Luckily, we were chosen to be one of the top 20 startups who advanced to the incubation program! Yehey! The incubation program is a 6 week intensive program that will really test our limits as entrepreneurs. It kicked off with a 5 day bootcamp at First Pacific Leadership Academy in Antipolo. Since I got back last Friday, my friends have been asking me if the program (so far) has been worth it. I have been ecstatically saying that “it was so worth it!”

During the 5 day bootcamp, 3 founders should attend. I was there with EJ and Lex.

Taxumo Team

The first day was about of getting to know each other (the other startup founders) and getting to know more about your self. The second day was about getting to know more about the other members in your startup. We all took a test that assessed our strengths and weaknesses and then we were given tips on how to assign roles and how to work with other members of the team based on the assessment (which was so cool!). BTW, our team won the Amazing Race challenge for that day (super fun, btw, and super tiring! haha!). We learned more about planning for our startups the LEAN way, and for the next two days, we had a customer validation challenge which taught us tools, tricks and tips on validating our ideas using the Javelin Board (which will now be a fixture on our sala walls! haha!). On the last day, Ideaspace invited key partners, investors and advisors — key people who were important in implementing our ideas. It was one of the best experiences in my life, even if EJ and I had to drive to Antipolo everyday (we had the option to stay there but we needed to get home to see our daughter every day).

Taxumo and Nanica won 2nd for the V-Challenge (validation challenge)! Woohoo!

Taxumo and Nanica won 2nd for the V-Challenge (validation challenge)! Woohoo!

 

Taxumo with the super great and inspiring Prim Paypon!

Taxumo with the super great and inspiring Prim Paypon!

 

With our mentor Jojy Azurin at the Ideaspace Bootcamp 2016

With our mentor Jojy Azurin at the Ideaspace Bootcamp 2016

 

Paul Pajo, Gabe Mercado and Arin were guest speakers at Ideaspace Bootcamp 2016

Paul Pajo, Gabe Mercado and Arin were guest speakers at Ideaspace Bootcamp 2016

 

EJ telling the other Co-Founders about Taxumo

EJ telling the other Co-Founders about Taxumo

 

Last Day at the Ideaspace Bootcamp 2016

Last Day at the Ideaspace Bootcamp 2016

Our reply to Miss Diane was that during the few months that we have been part of the tech community in the Philippines, we have learned more about starting and maintaining a successful business. We both want to learn more and we think Ideaspace can help us learn more about putting up a tech startup specifically.

Yes, we have had experience working in corporate and that gave us the ability to come up with structured processes and streamlined strategies, but working to build a tech startup requires speed and hustling. For the last five days, it really taught us more about coming up with work fast and taught us how to hustle more! Plus, we have gained a new family! Ms. Diane, Miguel, Goldy, Brenda, Dustin, Ping, and all the other members of the Ideaspace team have really shown that now we are part of their family. It’s such a great feeling! 🙂

I’ll be writing more about my startup experience and lessons that I have learned in these coming months!

Hustling,

Mommy Ginger

Mommy Ginger

8 Things That You Can Do to Feel Like a Startup Winner

Yesterday, I had a really itchy palm and I thought something great was about to happen. They say that if you have an itchy palm, you’re about to receive money. Well, nothing out of the ordinary happened. Haha! Then, today, I’m sitting in this coffee shop in BGC with huge number 8’s on the wall. Just by seeing this number, I feel so lucky already! But obviously, all of these – lucky numbers, horoscopes, etc., are not guaranteed to bring you Startup success this year. What brings you success is really more of the positive feeling and the energy that you get from believing that things will be great and awesome.

Coffee Otto - Cafe Italia

Having the right mindset in business is crucial. I have noticed that whenever I feel like a winner or whenever I feel positive, that’s when I get to book deals and get to do something productive. Also, I have noticed that there are particular things that I do that make me feel a Startup Winner. I know that things can get you down easily so today, I’ll be sharing with you 8 things that I do to make me feel positive and vibrant oftentimes.

1. Start the day early. When I start the day early, I get to do more things. If I feel that I have done so much before the clock strikes 12 noon, I become even more inspired and do a whole lot more after.

2. Set aside time for “moving”. Noticed that I used moving, instead of working out. I don’t know. Working out just seems too heavy. I have noticed that in the morning, when I decide to walk and do get to walk (not hurriedly) to a bakery shop or a café a few buildings away, this activity puts me in a brighter mood.

3. Always fix your work space in the evenings or right before you retire to bed. I noticed that when I wake up to a clean desk, I feel energized to work. It just makes me feel “ready”.

4. Update your vision board. My vision board is right across my bed. When I wake up, that’s the first thing I see.

5. Have ME-time days. Schedule a once or twice a month day for yourself. On that day, do everything that you want to do, but never really get the chance to do because you’re just too busy (book a massage, cut your hair, have a manicure or pedicure, etc.).

6. Do something, be somewhere, be with someone or eat something that puts you in a good mood. Sometimes, I just like to sit alone in a café and just write because writing puts me in a good mood. It also helps me focus more after.

7. Help others. I’m sure you know this and I know you’re familiar with the feeling. When you help others, without expecting anything in return, it makes you feel more alive. The feeling that you are part of the community and the feeling of giving back to society is something that makes us feel good.

8. Connect with someone. Write your hubby a letter. Invite a friend for coffee. Call your sister or brother and just talk about random stuff. Call a business partner or a supplier and don’t talk about business. Try to build relationships by going for things that goes beyond what is expected from you.

I don’t believe that people are born lucky, but I believe that all of us are born to be winners. I believe that luck and success comes from the way you feel about yourself. I believe that whenever you feel good, all things positive gravitate towards you.

Hope you like my tips! Be a winner!

The Mercantile Ethic: Changing your Attitude Towards Work

I am in the process of reviewing and ‘re-reading’ some of the books that I have read before. I am not much of a reader, to tell you honestly. The books that I love reading are those that give tips for entrepreneurs, personal finance management books, entrepreneur/start-up guides and branding books.

My collection in my IPAD :)

My collection in my IPAD 🙂

One of the books that I am reading now is Stephen M. Pollan’s Die Broke released in 1997. And in the first few pages of the book, specifically in page 23, he discusses the change of attitude towards work based on socioeconomic patterns. He suggests that we adopt what he calls the Mercantile Ethic.

Die Broke by Stephen Pollan

Die Broke by Stephen Pollan

Most of us are defined by our work. I remember the time when I was still working for a corporation as an employee. I would obviously be proud that I was a product manager in one of the stable banks in the Philippines. In each seminar or event that I would go to (even if it wasn’t related to work), I would introduce myself as a banker. And in my day-to-day job, I would think of what’s best for the company even if it meant going home really late at night or sacrificing weekends just to finish a presentation or even skipping meals just to meet deadlines.

Now, what Stephen Pollan says is that in this day and age, their is no such thing as corporate loyalty. This is a reality that we all have to face. He suggests that we try ‘quitting in our minds’ today. What does quitting in our minds today mean? We need to start thinking of ourselves, too. This is one of the tips for entrepreneurs that I believe in.

Why did I bring this up? A lot of people ask me, how did you make the jump from the corporate world to become a momtrepreneur. It wasn’t an overnight thing, believe me. You don’t just wake up and resign and then viola! You start your own business. It will take a lot of thinking, self-control, decision making, analysis, reflection, self motivation and will power.

In January 2012, I already probably (in Pollan’s terms) quit in my mind. I knew that I wanted to have a baby already, so I was taking steps to start my own business and create extra income — income that would eventually take the place of my monthly pay. I was ‘intentionally’ steering towards that direction of being a work-at-home-mom. Being a workaholic, it wasn’t easy. I was still working late and working during weekends, but time management was a strength of mine. What I did was I created a schedule that would allow me to work on the things that I wanted to do in the future while still working for my employer. I was still doing a great job at work, mind you, but I was INTENTIONALLY thinking of my own bottom-line, too. Do your job exceptionally well during work hours and then go home and do what you love.

Weekends and evenings should be all about you. No working… stop yourself! And there are no such thing as dues to be paid to your company for providing you pay and benefits. This was one thing I had to learn. I’m a nice gal and at the back of my mind, I always think that I have dues to pay to other people for things that I should actually be expecting and getting. Your pay is the ‘pay’ment for the job that you do well. You don’t owe your employer anything, in fact, for those days that you needed to work more than the required time, they should have paid you more. I know it’s easy to say, but difficult to absorb.

Changing your attitude towards work will definitely be the first step if you are still working and thinking of becoming a work-at-home-mom or a momtrepreneur. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to do, but it can be done.