How to Unleash the Next Startup Unicorn in the Philippines?

In a world where uncertainty reigns, everything is possible.

Edneil Jocusol

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Photo by jacob avanzato on Unsplash

The Philippines (PH), a country with over 108 million people and a median age of only 24.1, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority, is ripe for smart millennials who want to change the world through businesses, most particularly “startups”. However, very few have reached the “unicorn” status, if not countable by a three-year-old kid. And that’s a staggering “one” which is the Revolution Precrafted with Robbie Antonio as its CEO. This company is like the IKEA of the Philippines which aims to deliver prefabricated modular luxury homes to its customers.

Surprisingly, the only startup unicorn in the Philippines has faced multiple complaints from clients and has been probed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) because of allegedly setting up questionable deals amounting to Php 150 million or equivalent to $3.14 million. The case is not yet concluded as of this writing and there has been news that amicable settlements were made by the CEO with its clients to clear the suit and deliver what was promised.

A startup unicorn in the business world means a privately-held company with a valuation of over $1 billion. This famous term was coined by Aileen Lee, an angel investor in the USA, in 2013. In the Asia Pacific region, there are already 198 startup unicorns as of April 2021 (see Figure 1 below). Of this number, roughly 67 percent (133 unicorns) came from China alone, followed by India at 16 percent (32 unicorns), and South Korea at 5 percent (11 unicorns). The rest of the Asian countries have only below 5 unicorns. This data delivers a rhetorical question: How do we unleash the next startup unicorn in the Philippines? We sure need a lot of years, hard work, and an open mind to catch up technologically on this scale. But in a world where uncertainty reigns, everything is possible.

A number of startup unicorns in the Asia Pacific region where China leads by 133, followed by India at 32, and South Korea at 11. This data comes from Statista, 2021.
Figure 1: Number of startup unicorns in the Asia Pacific region. (Source: Statista, 2021)

Over the last 15 years, entrepreneurs in Asia have been seen participating in the race of startup formation. In the quest to build unicorns of such a massive scale, financing access is crucial…

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Edneil Jocusol

I write my observations on society, business/entrepreneurship, and technology/engineering.