July 11, 2012 by Terence LEE
Dado Banatao is probably the most successful Silicon Valley technopreneur you’ve never heard of. Some say that 30 percent of every computer today carries technology and ideas that originated from this unassuming Filipino.
Many of his compatriots have left their mark on the technology world as well. There’s Peter Valdes, who started Tivoli Systems in 1989, then led the company to an IPO in 1994 and eventually sold it for US$743M. Another good example is Dennis Mendiola, who founded Chikka Asia, the creator of Chikka Messenger, an instant messenger with about 38 million users.
Raw talent is not lacking in the Philippines — many entrepreneurs have succeeded in spite of the lack of a startup ecosystem. But now, a concerted effort is made by the country and its people to replicate and localize the Silicon Valley model back home. The hope is that as more funding and support emerge in the Philippines, more of the nation’s talent will find success within its borders.
To fully understand the challenges of creating a successful startup ecosystem in the Philippines, one must start with this number: As of 2010, there are about 9 million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW), making up almost 10 percent of the local population.
It’s a brain drain on a unimaginable scale, big enough to become an industry, and, ironically, a market for saavy entrepreneurs to tackle.
The cause of this problem is the lack of work opportunities for educated Filipinos, said Christina Laskowski, president of STAC Silicon Valley, an organization that works with the government to encourage technological innovation in the Philippines. Read more