#Asia Meet the top 27 Philippine startup influencers of this generation


From the government, startups, and social enterprises, we take a look at the startup ecosystem influencers who make startup life more fun in the Philippines.

Philippine innovators

Have you ever wanted to know what the startup ecosystem in Philippines is like without actually travelling there? Or maybe you want to meet these influencers? Being at e27, we have the advantage of helping a first-timer out; so here’s a brief snapshot of the top 27 innovators that are strong influencers and players in the Philippine startup ecosystem:

Diosdado “Dado” Banatao, Philippine Development Foundation (PhilDev) and Tallwood Venture Capital

Diosdado “Dado” Banatao is primarily known to the Filipinos for his backstory, being the son of a farmer from a small barrio in Iguig in Cagayan Valley who would eventually grow up to pioneer the PC chip set and graphics acceleration architecture that continue to be two of the foundation technologies in every PC today. As an engineer, he is credited with developing several key semiconductor technologies and is regarded as a Silicon Valley visionary. He co-founded three technology startups, S3 (SBLU), Chips & Technologies (INTC) and Mostron, and became a venture partner at the Mayfield Fund. He would later form Tallwood Venture Capital, as its managing partner. He also serves as the chairman of PhilDev, a non-profit organization that aims to eradicate poverty through education, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Francisco “Paco” Sandejas, Philippine Development Foundation (PhilDev) and Narra Venture Capital

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 11.02.59 PMFrancisco “Paco” Sandejas is Managing Partner at Narra Venture Capital, a boutique early-stage investment group that has invested in over 25 high-technology companies, with some notable companies being Inphi, SiRF (now CSR), Ikanos, and Sandbridge. Paco serves on the board of PhilDev, UnionBank of the Philippines, Quintic, Astute Networks, Stratpoint Technologies, Colixo and Xepto Computing. Earlier, he was Vice-President of H&Q Asia Pacific, where he helped lead notable early-stage investments in Transmedia (acquired by CISCO) and HeadStrong (acquired by Genpac). With a Ph.D and M.S. from Stanford, he co-invented the Grating Light Valve (GLV), one of Stanford’s top IP money-makers. Paco is an active consultant with the Philippine Government, and advises top universities in the Philippines.

Maria Ressa, Rappler

Maria Ressa is the founder and CEO of Rappler, a popular news website in the Philippines. Even before Rappler, Maria has been a journalist in Asia for more than 25 years, most of them as CNN’s bureau chief in Manila then Jakarta. In 2005, she headed the Philippines’ largest multi-platform news operations, ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs. She also taught in her alma mater, Princeton University, as well as the University of the Philippines. She authored “Seeds of Terror” and “From Bin Laden to Facebook.”

Diane Eustaquio, IdeaSpace Foundation

Diane Eustaquio is the Executive Director of IdeaSpace Foundation, a non-profit business incubator and accelerator based in the Philippines launched in 2012. She is the Philippines’ sole holder of a Business Incubation Management Certificate from the International Business Innovation Association, a non-profit organization and global advocate for incubators, accelerators, educational institutions and regional economic development stakeholders. Prior to IdeaSpace, she held executive support roles in various organizations, and was involved in entrepreneurship, healthcare, technology and government. She joined the Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC) in 2009 as Executive Assistant to the Head of Strategy for First Pacific Company Limited.

Manny Ayala, Endeavor Philippines

Manny is the Managing Director of the Philippine office of Endeavor, a global nonprofit organisation focused on supporting high impact entrepreneurs by giving them access to the networks, capital and talent needed to scale a business. Prior to Endeavor, Manny founded Hatchd Inc, a technology incubator that has helped to create companies such as Rappler, PawnHero, AVA, Purple Click, Zipmatch and Ayannah. Manny was also a co-founder of IRG Ltd, a Hong Kong based M&A advisory firm focused on telecoms, media and tech sectors across the Asia Pacific. He sits on the boards of Sky Cable and DaumKakao Philippines and is a past president of the Philippine Chapter of Entrepreneurs Organization.

Minette Navarrete, Kickstart Ventures

Minette Navarrete is Vice-Chairman and President of Kickstart Ventures, Inc., the corporate venture capital subsidiary of Globe Telecom, one of the major provider of telecommunications services in the Philippines. She is a member of the Ayala Corporation’s Innovation Advisory Council, and of Globe’s Innovation Advisory Board. Minette is a Senior Vice President at Globe Telecom, focusing on New Business, and a member of the Board of Directors of AdSpark, Globe’s wholly-owned digital advertising subsidiary. Minette has held a number of CEO/COO positions in various industries, ranging from scrappy Philippine startups to iconic global companies.

Senator Bam Aquino, 16th Congress of the Republic of the Philippines

SBA Profile - office

The youngest senator of the 16th Congress of the Republic of the Philippines and a social entrepreneur, Sen. Bam Aquino has dedicated his career to empowering the youth and the poor, helping Filipinos improve their lives through entrepreneurship and with effective support systems. As an entrepreneur, Senator Bam co-founded the social enterprise, Hapinoy, along with Mark Ruiz and has been awarded numerously for his contributions. As a senator, he authored the Go Negosyo Law, the first pro-poor and inclusive growth bill in the 16th Congress, and passed the Philippine Lemon Law to protect consumers against the sale of defective vehicles. He passed four more laws in 2015 in order to equal the playing field for micro-SMEs and startups.

Reese Fernandez-Ruiz, Rags2Riches

Reese Fernandez-Ruiz is the President and Founding Partner of Rags2Riches, Inc., a fashion and design house that creates urban artisanal home and fashion masterpieces with local community artisans. To date, Reese and the Rags2Riches team has built an eco-ethical, high value fashion and home brand in the Philippines that has trained 900 Filipino community-based artisans with the vision to lift their families out of poverty. She has received numerous recognitions for Rags2Riches, one of them being the youngest recipient in history of The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service for 2010.

Mark Ruiz, Hapinoy, Rags2Riches, AwesomeLab (18)

Mark Ruiz is the co-founder and president of Hapinoy, a social enterprise that empowers women microentrepreneurs through training, access to capital, and mobile-based technologies. He’s also the founding partner and board Member of Rags2Riches, a fashion and design house for urban poor artisans, as well as the co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer for AwesomeLab, a startup building internet of things technologies. Because of his contributions, Mark has won several awards as a social entrepreneur, and is a GSBI Online Mentor of Santa Clara University, a Social Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the INSEAD Centre for Entrepreneurship, and a member of the Global Agenda Council for Social Innovation of the World Economic Forum.

Nix Nolledo, Xurpas

Nix Nolledo is the Chairman and CEO of the largest listed consumer technology company in a Southeast Asian Stock Exchange, Xurpas Inc. Notably, Xurpas also claims to be the first mobile technology IPO in emerging Southeast Asian markets. Nix is an active angel investor, and is the Philippine venture partner of Wavemaker Partners, a member of the Draper Network which gives him a pulse on the latest innovations in global technology. Nix is the first Filipino entrepreneur chosen by the Endeavour network, is the Ernst and Young 2015 Philippine Entrepreneur of the Year and was chosen as one of The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) in the Philippines in 2015.

Jay Fajardo, Proudcloud, Launchgarage, and Medifi

A serial tech entrepreneur and coder, Jay Fajardo primarily focuses on three things: he is currently co-founder and CEO of Ruby development shop Proudcloud, co-founder and CTO of healthtech startup Medifi, and the founder and CEO of Launchgarage, an innovation hub based in Manila. Before his three ventures, in 2002 Jay founded Wi-Fi hotspot network Airborne Access, which was acquired by PLDT (Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company) in 2008. Jay is also invited to be a regular speaker at local and international forums on the Southeast Asian startup ecosystem, and holds roles as director, advisor, and mentor in various tech startups.

Jojo Flores, Plug and Play Technology Center and Launchgarage

2JoJoJojo Flores is co-Founder at Plug and Play Technology Center, which started in January 2006. Plug and Play provides a value added ecosystem composed of a network of over 500 angel investors, 180 venture capital firms, 300 corporate partnerships and service providers, and industry experts. Jojo is also the Vice President of the Silicon Valley – Science and Advisory Council (SV-STAC). In the Philippines, Jojo is the co-founder of Launchgarage and advises several startups in the country. He is presently the Vice President for International Operations and Board Member of American Liquid Packaging Systems (ALPS), which he joined in 1995, and was responsible for establishing ALPS as a market leader in Europe with a valuation of over US$100M. Jojo is also the Vice-President of Chemtex Plastics Asia, which he started in Manila in 2013.

Gabby Dizon, Altitude Games

Gabby Dizon is the CEO of Altitude Games, a Manila-based studio creating original, free-to-play mobile games. He helped pioneer the Philippine game industry as part of the team that released the first Filipino-made game in 2003, called Anito: Defend a Land Enraged. Prior to Altitude Games, Gabby was formerly Senior Producer at Boomzap and President of the Game Developers Association of the Philippines. Gabby also helps champion the game development industry in Southeast Asia and is an active member of the Philippine startup community.

JP Bisson, Loansolutions

As a strong creative CEO of Loansolutions, JP has been an entrepreneur since the age of 16. In recent years, he’s built and led Clicklabs Ventures and its portfolio of companies to more than 60 employees spread across 3 countries and US$3M in yearly revenue. His most recent venture Loansolutions aims to reinvent loan brokerage in the Philippines and beyond. He’s come a long way to realize that vision by consolidating the largest loan agencies in the Philippines under the Loansolutions banner. He’s also attracted top investment firms like Globe’s Kickstart Ventures and Singapore’s KK fund. JP puts a lot of emphasis on leveraging synergy from partnerships to accelerate growth in his ventures.

John Orrock, Future Now Ventures


John Orrock is the founder and CEO of Future Now Ventures, a boutique VC firm focusing on startups and fast growth companies developing cloud, mobile and enterprise technologies and services. Serving in the technology sector for over 20 years, John is responsible for founding Global One in 2007, which would later merge with Cloud Sherpas in 2012, at which he became senior VP for Asia-Pacific. Cloud Sherpas would later be on acquired by Accenture. Previously, John founded OKERE, which became a leading consulting partner of salesforce.com with a focus on corporate clients and acquired by Fujitsu Consulting North America in 2007.

Paul Rivera and Dexter Ligot Gordon, Kalibrr

Paul Rivera and Dexter Ligot-Gorden are the co-founders of Kalibrr, Paul being the CEO and Dexter the COO. Prior to Kalibrr, Paul was co founder and President at Open Access BPO, helping scale the best Silicon Valley startups in Manila. Before moving back to the Philippines to be an entrepreneur, Paul was also working at Google and is a graduate of UC Berkeley. On the other hand, Dexter has a background in public systems development, workforce policy, and politics. Prior to joining Kalibrr, Dexter authored San Francisco’s Strategic Plan for Workforce Development, and previously served as the Chief of Staff for a large enterprise departments for the City and County of San Francisco. Dexter also has served on the Board of the University of California Board of Regents, and has consulted for Federal, State and Local government agencies in the United States on building strong workforce systems.

Tina Amper, TechTalks.ph and GeeksOnABeach.com

Tina Amper is the Founder of TechTalks.ph and ​the instigator of GeeksOnABeach.com​. ​She was designated as adviser-consultant by ​the Philippine Government (​DOST-ICTO​)​ to help organise ​various​ ​Startup ​Weekend​ workshops​ i​n the Philippines​. Her organisation, TechTalks.ph is a non-profit, independent community of business, technology, and startup enthusiasts. Members meet to share ideas, learn new skills, and discover growing opportunities in the field of technology.​ Previously, Tina served as a Global Organiser to Bowei Gai’s WorldStartupReport.com and has experience working in the US, Japan, aside from the Philippines. She graduated with a BS Electronics Engineering and an MBA from Pepperdine University in California.

John Dang and Chow Paredes, ZipMatch

John Dang and Chow Paredes are the co-founder of ZipMatch, an online Philippine home buying marketplace, ZipMatch, which has raised its US$2.5M Series A round early last year. Prior to ZipMatch, John specialized in Sales and Business Development as he was one of the first key directors in an online gaming company’s management staff responsible for expanding into Asia. He a B.S. in Business Finance and International Business from the University of Southern California – Marshall School of Business. As for Chow, prior to ZipMatch, she was a sales director for a prominent Manila-based real estate developer, responsible for hundreds of millions in sales. She is also a speaker for real estate professionals who lends her expertise on how they can make meaningful connections with clients and grow their careers for long-term.

Judah Hirsch, Salarium


Judah Hirsch, CEO of Salarium, wins Seedstars World 2014

Judah Hirsch is the founder and CEO of Salarium, the leading cloud based payroll solution in the Philippines. Judah moved to the Philippines from Israel 10 yrs ago to be the GM of a mid-sized contact center. After finishing his contract he recognized a need for quality professional services and founded Triple i Consulting, growing it from his apartment to one of the leading service firms in the country. This led him to finally start Salarium. Earlier last year, Salarium bagged the championship for Seedstars World 2014, the global startup competition for emerging markets and fast-growing startup scenes held in Geneva.

RJ David, OLX.ph

RJ David is the founder of Sulit.com.ph, a buy and sell ad listings platform created in 2006. Naspers would later acquire the majority of Sulit in August 2009, and acquire the majority of OLX in 2010. Sulit and OLX worked as sister companies under Naspers Classifieds. In 2013, Sulit officially became part of OLX, and was rebranded to OLX in March 2014. Now, RJ sits as the chairman, president and managing director of OLX.ph. Before his work on Sulit, RJ was a developer and engineer in various organizations, and has won several entrepreneurial awards from the Philippine startup ecosystem.

Mikko Perez, Ayannah

As the founder and CEO of Ayannah, Mikko Perez has a successful track record investing in and operating innovative technology, new media and telecom-related ventures. Prior to leading Ayannah, he was Director of Finance & Business Development at mobile messaging start up, Chikka and helped steer Chikka to profitability. He also spearheaded the company’s international expansion prior to its acquisition by PLDT. Prior to this, he was an investment manager at Next Century Partners where he managed private equity on behalf of Soros Fund Management, LLC and several institutional investors. He was also an investment banker at JP Morgan Chase (Hambrecht & Quist) in San Francisco where he advised technology ventures. Mikko graduated with an MBA from Harvard Business School, and serves on the board of several corporations and foundations.

Ravi Agarwal, engageSPARK and The TIDE (22)

Ravi is an entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist focused on social impact and technology startups in the US and Asia, also being an investor (LP) in 500 Startups and 500 Durians. In 2011, he volunteered with Grameen Foundation in Ghana and Uganda working on poverty alleviation programs, including mAgriculture and mHealth programs. He subsequently founded engageSPARK, a not-for-profit social business, with a mission to enable NGOs to maximize their impact by leveraging the power of mobile phones to engage with their constituents. Since moving to Cebu, Philippines, he also started The TIDE, the only coworking and community space for Cebu’s startup ecosystem. Over his entrepreneurial career, he has founded three companies, two of which today employ more than 3,000 people worldwide and one is public in the US, NASDAQ:EIGI.

Daniel Scott and Christopher Franks, Autodeal

Daniel Scott and Christopher Franks are the co-founders of Autodeal.com.ph, a online automative marketplace launched in April 2014 focussing on the new car industry. AutoDeal has focussed on lead generation in the form of potential car buyers shopping around for quotes, booking test drives and ultimately connecting with an official sales agent immediately. It has grown to over 650,000 visitors and over 8,000 leads a month with 14 manufacturers and 300 dealerships utilizing its platform. Previously, Daniel and Christopher both started up PinoyAutoTrader.com.ph, one of the largest car classified platforms in the Philippines eventually exiting to Sulit/OLX in 2013.

Aisa Mijeno, SALt

Engineer Aisa Mijeno is the co-founder and CEO of SALt, a startup that attempts to create Sustainable Alternative Lighting solutions. Its first product, a saltwater lamp, has received both local and international attention as well as several awards. Aisa is also both a member of Greenpeace Philippines and a faculty member of Engineering at De La Salle Lipa. She initially conceptualised SALt after observing the natives of the Butbut tribe rely only on kerosene lamps and moonlight to accomplish evening chores.

Matthew Morrison, A SPACE Philippines


Matthew founded A SPACE in 2011 as the first innovative coworking and collaboration space in Manila, with innovations on pricing, office space design, and client services. Since 2014, A SPACE has maintained is lead as the leading collaborative workspace in the country. He is also the Founding Partner of Barefoot Ventures Asia, formed to create or support entrepreneurial ventures that are ethical, ecologically responsible, and exceptional, including a philanthropic luxury resort brand, a specialist recruitment brand, and a collective to support and promote independent musicians and artists. Previously, Matthew has worked on projects with leading US advertising agency, Grey (as Director, Media & Entertainment), and as the Strategy Director of UK brand consulting firm, Five Degrees West.

Matthew Cua, SkyEye

Matthew Cua is the founder and CEO of SkyEye, an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) service and Decision Support service company providing different services such as GIS mapping, low altitude Aerial imagery, and deployment of low-cost UAVs. Matthew also is the current president of AwesomeLab, an interdisciplinary team of engineers, designers and scientists who developed new products and helped large corporations become more innovative, which he started out by initially being the Chief Technology Officer. During this time, he pursued a Masters in Chemistry before switching to a more hands-on Masters in Environmental Science.

Joshua de la Llana, Tactiles

Joshua de la Llana is the founder and CEO of Tactiles, an IdeaSpace Foundation incubated startup that focuses on edtech hardware. His first product, the iQube, a cube kit that teaches children the concepts of electronics, successfully raised US$65,886 on Indiegogo. Before forming Tactiles, Joshua worked as a field engineer at National Instruments in the Philippines, and as a control systems engineer in Exponent Controls and Electrical Corporation. He is a graduate of the Mapua Institute of Technology with a degree in Electrical Engineering.

Find someone who isn’t on this list that you’d like to nominate? Drop us a note in the Discussions section and tell us who we missed. If there are enough suggestions, we’d be happy to do a follow-up article! You can also update or include your nominee’s user or startup profile to be part of our next feature.

Image Credit: Pixabay


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