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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

YouthHack Manila 2015 Startup Challenge - “Where Will You Go That You’re Not Supposed To Be?”

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Last July 25-26, 2015 at Xavier School Greenhills, aspiring technopreneurs from both high school and university were faced up to this question. The YouthHack Manila Startup Challenge offered two days worth of activities to help these students think, create and innovate as they learn to assemble their very own startups. Through keynote speeches, workshops, a startup fair, and a startup competition for the participants, eyes and minds were opened and participants slowly began to find their answers to the proposed question.

To kick off the first day, YouthHack Founder David Ongchoco delivered his welcome address by sharing his origin story. “It felt surreal for the 18-year-old who just graduated high school,” he says. YouthHack sprouted from David’s realization that the youth of today can play a vital role in revolutionizing “technopreneurship”—the blend of technology and entrepreneurship—in the startup world. The organization is living proof of this belief, as aside from the Manila Startup Challenge (considered “the biggest and baddest YouthHack event” to date), YouthHack is currently growing and making its away outside our nation’s borders to places such as Philadephia and Singapore.

In the first keynote speech, we learn some of the startup industry’s secrets from Kalibrr CEO Paul Rivera. When it comes to the core of your startup, he advises them to be inspired by something more than profit. Though sometimes this would mean pursuing a riskier path, Paul persuades the participants that “[t]his is the time to be experimenting. This is not the time to play it safe.” Failure is inevitable in the startup world, and Paul reassures everyone that this is part of the process and something entrepreneurs learn to move on from. “Entrepreneurs take calculated risks and tolerate uncertainty,” he says.

“Your network becomes your net worth.” He stresses the importance of finding the right people who will help you take your startup to greatness, teaching the crowd that “[l]ife networks matter” and they must “[p]lug into the right ones.”

ABS-CBN's Donald Lim sharing about building a digital business in today's age

Brian Tenorio ensnares his audience with the mechanics of strategic design

Mark Panganiban of Shopinas leads the marketing workshop
 “Every business must change.” Donald Lim, Chief Digital Officer of ABS-CBN, talks about this other inevitability in the startup world. He challenges the students by asking them, “What can you recreate out of that?” Many startups disrupted even more large companies and services by using this to their advantage. In order to disrupt, they go beyond what these companies and services currently offer and “look for [customers’] next needs,” tailoring their startup towards that. With the evolving technology provided for us today, there are countless possibilities to innovate products and services, disrupt competitors, and take your startup to a new level.

After learning from these prominent figures in the startup community, YouthHack participants were then introduced to daring YouthHack startup partners who showcased the different innovations they offer (among these are video games, rewards, eco tours and even “a Tinder for friendship”) at the much-awaited Startup Fair. The students were given the chance to go around and take bits of inspiration from these impressive displays.

After a whole morning of sitting down and learning, it was time for the participants to apply their newly retrieved knowledge through the workshops. Giving them even further tips on other aspects of putting up and growing a startup business were design maverick Brian Tenorio, Kalibrr Marketing Manager Roxanne Lim, ASES President Jaime Young, Kalibrr Project Manager Joan Magno, Joe Maristela and Pinky Natividad of, Goldy Yancha of Ideaspace, Mark Joseph Panganiban of Shopinas, and Raymond Castillo of Uber.

The participants prepared for their pitch on the second day before their talks. Each group gathered on every corner of the hall to discuss and practice their pitches. The program began with Dennis Mendiola, founder of the "Chikka" app, advising the participants not to get stuck while coming up with an idea. "If you find an opportunity to improve your product, by all means, pivot." He emphasizes how one must always focus on something they understand best in order to create a successful startup. Pinky Natividad, the second speaker and co-founder of Katalyst.PH then supported Dennis' statements by urging the participants to act on their ideas now. She asks, "How many of you woke up one day and asked yourself what you were doing here?", then telling participants of the importance of creating a startup that would be beneficial and unique.

Paul Rivera, CEO of Kalibrr, talks about the value of hard work

Raymond Castillo from Uber giving a workshop on marketing

Students going through an ideation workshop by IdeaSpace
And afterwards, the pitches began. The groups were assigned one classroom out of the 5; the first to third for the High School division and the fourth to fifth for the College division. The expectations were high and the judges were ready for the search for the next big startup. The finalists for the High School division were Facere, Spore, sourcED, Safety Lemon, Choco na Gatas, and MEDeAs. As for the College division, the finalists were Ergo Inc., WomenTrep .Co, Proyekto Karagatan, Team Zantsuken, and Team Me Turner Tim Cook.

After the final round of pitching, only three from each division came out victorious. For the High School Division, the winners are: (3rd Place) Facere with their parking app, "A Walk in the Park," which collaborates with malls and other public establishments to reserve parking slots; (2nd Place) MEDeAs with their medical app or "your medical health care assistant," as they introduced, which assists the user in record their medical history and assists them in connecting with doctors when needed; and (1st Place), an air pollution tracker that gives the user an analysis of the air around you by measuring the temperature, humidity, and pollutants in the air.

As for the College division, the winners are as follows: (3rd Place) Ergo Inc. with their social media website, Wever, which connects volunteers to causes and organizations they wish to support; (2nd Place) Team Me Turner Tim Cook with Apprentiz, a site that assists students in the Philippines to find job and internship opportunities; and (1st Place) Team Zantsuken with their networking system, Connectworks, which allows devices to connect with one another without using the internet.

And that concludes the YouthHack Startup Challenge for 2015! Winners or not, each participant went home with the prize of wisdom from the talks and experience, which will help them further develop their ideas for the future. We hope to see you all again for next year's challenge!

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: Carissa Sierras and Maxine De Jesus

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