Updated: December 9, 2020
The Korean drama, Start-Up has recently put tech startups front and center of social media in the Philippines.
The series is primarily a love story, but it also gives the audience a glimpse of startup culture and how challenging it really is to launch a tech startup.
Most of the scenes in the KDrama happened in Sandbox, a fictional Silicon Valley in South Korea, which also served as the startup incubator for Samsan Tech, the company founded by the main characters in the series.
If you’re not familiar with the term, a startup incubator is a collaborative program that is designed to help startups to grow from infancy by providing workspace, seed funding, mentoring, and training — exactly what Sandbox did for Samsan Tech.
During an online chat with some friends about Start-Up’s finale, one of them asked, “If Samsan Tech was founded in the Philippines, would they have a Sandbox here?”
“Of course!” I replied. “In fact, they’d have several ‘Sandboxes’ to choose from.”
Philippine Startup Incubators and Accelerators
The 2020 Philippine Startup Survey reports that there are 35+ incubators and accelerators, 40+ venture capitalists, and 50+ angel investors in the Philippines.
So, if you’re planning to launch your own “Samsan Tech”, then here are the “Sandboxes” or the startup incubators and accelerators in the Philippines you can apply in.
AIM-DADO BANATAO INCUBATOR
Launched in June 2016 by the Philippine Development Foundation (PhilDev) and the Asian Institue of Management (AIM), this incubator has Dado Banatao as Chief Adviser, who is also known as the Philippine Father of Semiconductors.
I participated in a Bootcamp which they organized years ago. That was my first foray into the Philippine startup scene, and I must say that it was one of the best learning experiences I had when it comes to entrepreneurship.
Founded in 2012, this incubator and accelerator have invested in 70+ tech startups including Taxumo, Pinoy Travel, and Valea Health. They’re backed by Smart Communications and among the biggest incubators in the country.
Check them out if you want to participate in a hackathon or watch a real-life Demo Day just like in the series. I’ve been to a few and I guarantee that you’d be inspired to launch your own startup soon after.
IMPACT HUB MANILA
This is another place where I’ve attended various events and seminars. They’re an incubation hub that offers collaborative workspaces, provides startup support, mentorship, training, and development.
They’re part of a global network of entrepreneurs through Impact Hub, which is headquartered in Vienna, Austria. They currently have 16,500+ members in 55+ countries.
In the Philippines, they have several co-working spaces in Metro Manila, as well as in Cebu, Iloilo, and Clark.
I remember attending a networking event here once. And I went home with a tall stack of business cards and a head full of business ideas.
QBO INNOVATION HUB
QBO is not an acronym and it’s pronounced as “kubo” as in the nipa hut. It’s an innovation hub and startup platform, created to provide resources, connections, and support to accelerate the growth of Philippine startup companies.
Founded in partnership with JP Morgan Chase Foundation, Ideaspace Foundation, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) — QBO has helped startups such as Investagrams and Kumu grow to where they are now.
Recently, I was able to have a chat with Katrina Chan, QBO’s current director and you’ll hear us talk about the KDrama in an upcoming episode of The 80 Percent podcast, so wait for it!
Other Notable Philippine Startup Incubators:
Again, there are 35+ startup incubators and accelerators in the Philippines, and these which I mentioned are simply those that I’ve had personal experience and contact with.
So, go ahead and explore your city, because there might be a startup incubator just around the corner, which can help turn your innovative idea into reality.
Good luck and always remember to follow your dreams!