From April to May 2019, the American Spaces of the US Embassy in the Philippines is running Massive Open Online Courses (MMOC) on “The Iterative Innovation Process” offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology through EDX. The course is open to anyone who wants to understand and foster innovation in a formal and informal learning communities and organizations.

As part of the ecosystem connect initiative, the Philippine Trade and Investment Center worked with the US Embassy to support the MOOC Camp Virtual Meet-up on 25 April. Two Filipino-American entrepreneurs and innovators were invited as virtual speakers to share their respective innovation experiences. They are Aldo Carrascoso and Ojay Malonzo.

Aldo, a serial entrepreneur, is the Co-Founder and CEO of InterVenn Biosciences. InterVenn combines next generation glycomics (carbohydrates), instrumentation (LC/MS) and deep machine learning to augment cancer diagnosis, biomarker and target discovery for the development of more efficacious molecular diagnostics. Aldo also co-founded Verego (2006-2010), Junkin Media (2000-present), Coalescent Resources (2013-2015), and VEEM (2013-present).

Ojay, co-founded Figure8 Cloud Solutions, a leading Salesforce platinum consulting partner in North America, which was recently acquired by AllCloud, a global professional services organization specializing in cloud enablement – from cloud infrastructure to CRM and ERP cloud applications.

The MOOC Camp Virtual Meetup was livestreamed to all American Spaces platforms and partnerinstitutions via Facebook Live on 25 April 2019 from 9:00am (PH time). Participants, who are mostly students and young/budding entrepreneurs joined via online platform through the different fablabs located in different parts of the country. These include: Fablabs Ilocos, Fablabs Mindanao, Likha Fablab Cebu, Cebu Institute of Technology Makerspace, American Spaces in Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, Manila (De La Salle University) and DOST-STII Makerspace. Click link to view the meetup discussion:
Each speaker talked about their experiences navigating the Silicon Valley ecosystem, how they started, what drives them to continue what they do, and the learnings and takeaways from these experiences:
On creating a team- In creating your team, it is important that you find like-minded individuals, people who share your passion, and fit the organizational culture

On funding– Questions to consider when looking for funding: (a) where is your team based?, (b) What has your team done; (c) Where is your addressable market? If you are working on a very specific problem solution for the Philippines, it is likely that SV funding may not worked out, unless the solution has wider addressable markets. Buy-in is also important so testing your product first is needed to prove there is market. For new entrepreneurs, you may also consider initially sourcing funds from your savings, families and friends.

On meet-ups and forum – Share information by organizing/participating in meetups and forum as these are valuable source of ideas, information, feedback and support among startups and new entrepreneurs.

On messaging and social media – Create messages that are clear and easily understandable as possible, particularly when pitching your products to investors, consumers or the general public they can relate to your products/services. Improve your ability to reach wider audience through the effective use of social media platforms.

On mergers and acquisitions –M&A can go both ways for a company. It really depends on where you want your company to be. M&A may be considered if (a) it can help the company retain people who are passionate about continuing the work, (b) it helps keep the market share, and (c) there is culture compatibility/synergies.

On handling failures and change – While receiving a ‘No” response for your idea or project is very disheartening, one should consider it as temporary – Not a definitive “NO” but just “NOT NOW”. When you receive a rejection, consider: (a) do not immediately react by stopping your project; (b) engage those who says “no” to you and ask why they rejected the idea/project; and (c) understand the “No”, capture and reflect on the learnings and use them to improve the idea/project or map out what is required; (d) preparation and practice is always key to any pitch or project presentation; and (e) be agile or responsive to change.

As final words to the participants, the speakers emphasized the following:

  1. Always begin with the WHY? Find your purpose and vision. Your anchor will always be your purpose.
  2. Do not start your journey thinking about getting rich. Take one step at a time. Persevere.
  3. There will always be roadblocks. Learn from experience.
  4. Remember the 3 Ps – Purpose, Passion and Problem