Image from Vecteezy.com
Startups in the Philippines have been booming in previous years. According to the Philippines Venture Capital Report 2022, as cited by Desiderio (2022), the total capital of Philippine startups has grown from $369 million in 2020 to $1.03 billion in 2021. Startups grew to about 700 in October 2021 (Caña, 2021), but this number more likely has increased over time.
Although not all startups last long, some strive and make a name for themselves in their respective industries. One of them is Angkas, a well-known transportation startup that helps Filipinos move from one place to another and avoid being stuck in traffic. Another is Flowerstore.ph, which allows customers to send flowers and gifts to their loved ones. There is also Kumu, a platform that lets Filipinos livestream and share their videos with the community.
One of the reasons why these startups became successful was that they managed to present something valuable to their consumers. It might be difficult to design our own product, but fortunately, we can learn from how these firms did it. Here are three ways we can do to come up with our own products and services:
1. Use existing means to solve a current problem.
It can be intimidating to come up with something novel, but sometimes the right solution may just be in plain sight. Angkas came up with a simple but clever solution to beat traffic by utilizing what is already there and transforming it into a business. The idea came to Angkas founder, Angeline Tham’s mind when she found herself stuck in traffic (Zubiri, 2020).
Image: Angkas mobile application. (taken from the Angkas Facebook page)
2. Improve where others fail.
A start-up can capitalize on the weaknesses of other businesses, as seen in Flowerstore.ph. Although it is common to sell flowers online, flower stores tend to price their products higher than buying flowers on the corner. On top of this, they also have inconveniences like accepting prepaid payments only with additional shipping fees and a long waiting time before one can receive the flowers (Rappler, 2019).
Flowerstore.ph changed the game by finding a solution for these problems. According to Rappler (2019), they offered more affordable flowers, different channels for payment, better customer service, and faster delivery. From being a company solely based in the Philippines, business operations are now expanding to other countries, with Vietnam and Thailand on its current list.
Image: Flowerstore PH (taken from Rappler.com)
3. Listen to customers.
Original ideas may not always succeed, but it can serve as a springboard for subsequent enhancements based on client feedback. Kumu began as a messaging app, but not many people were interested in it, probably because there were already a lot of known messaging applications in the market. The creators noticed how the users who stayed in the app were interested in its livestreaming feature and soon capitalized on this aspect. They began bringing in content creators and later increased their users by adding a trivia game show where people could earn cash prizes (Pascual, 2020). Kumu today is a successful app where people can earn and get entertainment from playing or livestreaming.
Image: Kumu mobile application (taken from Esquire Philippines)
Setting up a business in the Philippines may be overwhelming due to the sheer number of firms that exist today, each offering their own kind of product or service that seem to answer virtually every problem out there. However, this should not stop us from trying because there is always a way to improve the quality of life for everyone. We just need to keep our eyes open and be aware of hidden opportunities that could present itself when it is least expected.
Caña, P.J. These are the top revenue-generating startups in the Philippines for 2021. Esquire. https://www.esquiremag.ph/money/industry/top-startups-philippines-2021-a00289-a2696-20211118-lfrm
Desiderio, L. (April 4, 2022). Philippines startups raise over $1 billion in 2021. The Philippine Star. https://www.philstar.com/business/2022/04/04/2171974/philippines-startups-raise-over-1-billion-2021
Pascual, J. (December 9, 2020). How did Kumu get so huge? Rappler. https://www.rappler.com/life-and-style/arts-culture/kumu-streaming-philippines/
Rappler. (September 10, 2019). Flowerstore.ph is disrupting the flower industry through affordable bouquets. https://www.rappler.com/brandrap/announcements/239770-flowerstore-ph-disrupting-flower-industry-affordable-bouquets/
Zubiri, S. (July 23, 2020). Angeline Tham of Angkas talks about her bumpy road to success. Tatler. https://www.esquiremag.ph/money/industry/top-startups-philippines-2021-a00289-a2696-20211118-lfrm
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Ateneo de Manila University.