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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

10 Lessons to Starting-up From YouthHack Manila’s Startup Challenge 2015

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Ushering in a new generation of empowered youth, YouthHack is an organization that educates students on the world of startup, technology, and entrepreneurship through holding various events that allow participants to pitch their own ideas, and have a go at creating their own business.

Started only one year ago by incoming University of Pennsylvania Sophomore and Xavier School graduate David Ongchoco, YouthHack has already generated much clout and is on its way to disrupt how the youth think of entrepreneurship and technology. What started out as a two-day event in Manila back in July 2014 has now become a global community with events and programs held in the US, Singapore and later this month, Hong Kong.

For this year’s YouthHack Manila Startup Challenge 2015, Kalibrr CEO Paul Rivera, ABS-CBN Chief Digital Officer Donald Lim, CEO Pinky Natividad and Chikka Founder Dennis Mendiola all came in as keynote speakers to share their story and gives pieces of advice. YouthHack also brought in workshop speakers from fast-growing startups and incubators like Kalibrr, Uber, and IdeaSpace to talk about topics like ideation, marketing, product development, growth hacking and more.

Here are a few lessons we took away straight from the event held last July 25-26, where over 200 student participants came together in Xavier School. 

Collaboration is a big part of YouthHack events
1. Know the A to Zs of hacking.

It's common to hear words such as technopreneurship uttered one (or ten) times when immersing yourself in the world of startups. After all, with a new generation, comes an updated collection of common vocabulary. Here are a few of them to get you started:


- Gone are the days when hackers were associated with an aura of negativity. Now, this word refers to reviewing the current system of society, and changing the way it works altogether.


- The preparation and organization of the beginnings of an enterprise or business venture designed to grow fast.

- A portmanteau between the words "technology" and "entrepreneurship," this refers to the business of utilizing today's technology to create profitable commercial ventures for the betterment of tomorrow.

FAIR WEATHER. Participants get to interact with members of the local startup scene at the Startup Fair

2. Don't be afraid to explore your options.

While it may be possible that there is nothing new under the sun, there is still room for a fresh perspective. "Ride the wave that's already growing," says Raymond Castillo, Community Operations Manager at Uber. "Don't do what's already been done." Think out of the box. Mix and match ideas. Innovate. And most importantly, as Donald Lim, Chief Digital Officer of ABS-CBN, believes, keep in mind that "a good idea helps solve a problem."

Participants prepare for their pitch
3. Escape the comfort zone.

Whoever said success would be easy, had never taken a go at the startup business. The worst thing to do is to build up walls to keep you from jumping the bullet. The journey to completion will oftentimes have you on your toes, and keep you up for sleepless nights. However, more often than not, the higher the risk, the greater the payoff. 

Students think of the next big idea
4. Learn from an internship.

The best way to learn about the inner machinations of startup businesses is to experience it firsthand. Before starting up your own idea, work your way around a company that has done what you aim to do. Build connections, and strive to succeed. It also doesn't hurt to foster a sense of healthy competition with your co-workers. "Surround yourself with winners," suggests Pinky Natividad of The people you work with, and work for will essentially influence the way you work. Take a tip from Kalibrr CEO Paul Rivera, and "do everything they ask with aplomb." It won't be long till you find yourself at the top.

Students pitch their ideas to a panel of startup veterans
5. Don't shy away from advice.

Your best bet for great advice comes from those who have already been exposed to the industry. Experience is the best way to learn something, and taking guidance from an experienced technopreneur can open your eyes to the flaws in your product. The biggest mistake we can make is thinking that we can do everything, when let's face it - we can't. Never let pride get in the way of doing your idea justice. Accepting input and criticism from various audiences will not only let you grow as an entrepreneur, but will also earn you the respect of your peers.

Participants get ready for two-days of product development
6. What's gonna work? #Teamwork!

No man is an island. Therefore, unless you wish to undertake a dull and lonely journey towards fulfilment, gather a group of people instead, and motivate them to contribute to your cause. Consider each member's strengths, and make sure they complement one another - especially in terms of their skills and expertise in various fields, such as marketing, coding, and designing. It pays to remember that there is power in diversity. With a team like this, it'll be almost impossible to neglect any important details imperative to the achievement of success.

Team Facere pitches their parking app for the High School finals
7. Never underestimate the power of good marketing.

The meaning of the term 'marketing' has unfortunately evolved to 'simply selling a product,' leaving entrepreneurs thinking it is a job unfit for someone in their high position. In reality, the success of a product relies on the effectivity of its marketing strategy; so creating an image for your company is a top priority. Learn to sell your consumers "a better version of themselves." Send out messages that initiate action. Most of the time, it’s not about what your product can do, but how it engages the audience on a personal level.

Participants get to meet members of the local startup community
8. Try. Fail. Pivot. Repeat.

Many times the idea you start out with will take a 180 degree turn by the time you are finished. There is no such thing as a perfect idea, especially during the early stages of development. “Rarely does the original idea become the product,” admits Chikka CEO Dennis Mendiola. Never let yourself fall captive to the hopelessness of failure. After all, “it’s better to have tried and failed, than not to have tried at all.”

Spore, an environmental tracker, took home the gold for the High School Division
9. Disrupt the system.
Yes - disrupt.

In this day and age, conformity is no longer a prerequisite for appeal. Consumers are tired of the same routines, but that doesn't mean your idea has to completely change the world, per se. It simply means that going against a norm can catch your audience's attention, even if it calls for you to try and knock that number one brand out of its spot. (Think Uber: pitting itself against one of the biggest industries in the world - and winning. This networking company solves one simple problem that existing taxi services could not through guaranteeing costumers a ride with the tap of a button.)

Don't hesitate to challenge the strongest players in the game - numbers and ranks can always change. Walang forever. 

The University Division winners 
10. Ready? Set? What are you waiting for? Go!

Now you've got those 9 steps out of the way, it's time to launch your idea - immediately. After overcoming the grueling process of idea formation, it's common to find yourself stuck in the middle of not knowing what to do next. However, don't let months of brewing up a mental storm end with nothing to show for it. Get out there, and start working!

The startup world is growing exceptionally fast. If you sit around and ‘wait for the right moment,’ you'll never muster up the courage to begin. Delaying your idea, especially after gaining a following for it, may take away the hype that comes with it. Don't let any excuse hinder you from catapulting your vision to reality.

"How to know when to launch your idea?" asks Paul Rivera. The answer is simple: "Just launch it."

You can learn more about YouthHack by visiting our website and liking our Facebook Page: If you’re interested in starting a YouthHack Chapter or becoming a local YouthHack events planner, you can email

Written by by Carmela Crespo and Rebecca Galvez

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