Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Kickstart is PH's Bet at GSMA Mobile Asia Expo Innovation Workshop

Kickstart Ventures, Inc. President Minette Navarrete (left) talks at the GSMA Mobile World Expo. With her in the panel are (from L-R):  Tetsuzo Matsumoto, Senior Advisor, Softbank Mobile Corporation; Guillaume Mascot, Director of Public Affairs, Alcatel-Lucent; and Paul Haswell, Partner, Pinsent Masons.  Moderator is Professor Xu Yan, Associate Dean, HKUST Business School

Kickstart Ventures, Inc., the most active early-stage investment fund in the country, represented the Philippine telecom industry at the GSMA Mobile Asia Expo innovation workshop in Shanghai, China which tackled current initiatives to foster and promote new ways of doing things.

GSMA is an association of mobile operators and related companies devoted to supporting the standardizing, deployment and promotion of the GSM mobile telephone system.

On the topic of "Creating Innovation from Within - Fostering Mobile Innovation," Kickstart President Minette Navarrete joined Tetsuzo Matsumoto, Senior Advisor, Softbank Mobile Corporation; Guillaume Mascot, Director of Public Affairs, Alcatel-Lucent; and Paul Haswell, Partner, Pinsent Masons in discussing some of the global and regional trends taking place in the industry. Professor Xu Yan, Associate Dean of the HKUST Business School, moderated.

The panelists also talked about the important role of innovation as well as opportunities for new business models and partnerships, and the role of the private and public sectors.

Using Globe Telecom as an example, Navarrete explained how Kickstart, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Globe, was created to break down barriers to disruptive innovation that could not survive inside an established telecom company.

“Kickstart challenges existing norms and takes active part in accelerating the development of robust innovation ecosystem.  Globe knows that the world is changing and it’s not enough to only be in mobile because people want to do different things.  It is important that we provide them with tools, channels, mentors and market access. Globe has all these assets, but we also know that innovation has to be moreswift, agile, and open to changing very, very fast, at a rate that a large established corporation would be hard-pressed to achieve.  That’s why Kickstart was born,” she said.

Kickstart is an incubation and investment company which helps tech startups operating in the Philippines to build robust businesses and technical foundations, as well as to scale. Kickstart does this by putting big company resources - capital, facilities, expertise, and business connections - behind the startups that it funds so they can launch faster and achieve scale and profitability sooner. These resources are available to Kickstart through its parent company, Globe Telecom, and its major shareholders, Ayala Corporation and Singtel.

According to Navarrete, large enterprises are good at driving and scaling innovation through reliable, repeatable processes but it is much less successful for the frontier areas of industry where there are higher, often unquantifiable degrees of uncertainty and risk.

Thus, Globe mandated Kickstart to spur innovation by providing digital startup companies with capital, mentorship, and market access to make it possible for large and small corporations to work together.

“Innovation requires an ecosystem approach: we must create an integrated innovation ecosystem in the Philippines.  The digital space is interesting because it can be deployed very quickly and doesn’t need huge capital, qualities that make it well-suited to starting in emerging markets, and scaling to the world.  We break down barriers by giving startups the cash to help them reduce their risks and start their entrepreneurial journey.  We build bridges by bringing in mentors and offering training that’s very specific to their needs.  We bring in the people and the large private and public sector organizations who can contribute,” she said.

Kickstart currently has 18 portfolio companies with product and services ranging from e-commerce, social enterprise, crowd sourcing, prepaid credits, party invites, skills matching, loans, online journal, clinic management, legal research, dating, bilingual educational, carpooling, travel, real estate, management tool, and loyalty promotions.

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