The Filinvest group, through its innovation and venture-building arm F(DEV), will continue to kickstart Philippine start-ups and grow them to a regional scale in the next five to seven years. It is currently looking for more start-up ventures to invest in.

“More than simply ‘starting up’ these new ventures, we want to rapidly bring them to a level of operational scale that is required to make a real impact,” said Xavier G. Marzan, chief executive officer and managing director of F(DEV), in an official statement, “So we also view ourselves as a ‘scale-up factory’.”

Last year, the country ranked 51st out of 132 economies in the Global Innovation Index, a huge jump from 100th place in 2014, though it moved a spot down from 2020.

F(DEV)’s goal is to add to the high level of investing activity in the Philippine start-up ecosystem, which has attracted foreign venture capital (VC) funding in the past few years. However, it maintains that it is neither an accelerator nor a VC fund.

“We identify and invest in potentially viable large-scale start-up ideas and turn them into companies,” explained Mr. Marzan.

Though it’s owned by Filinvest Development Corp. (FDC), the group is governed by a senior-level board to shield it from various corporate structures.


Venture-building to the unicorn level requires a mix of good start-up DNA, a venture capital mindset, and the might of a parent company’s ecosystem, according to F(DEV).

“Everyone needs to be fast, agile, creative, innovative, and comfortable with ambiguity. Moreover, people should have an unrelenting focus on solving customer problems and prioritizing customer experiences,” Mr. Marzan said.

B2B e-commerce start-up Qwote, one of F(DEV)’s recent recruits for its portfolio companies, made its public reveal at the Philippine Startup Week in November.

Bjorn Pardo, Qwote’s country chief executive officer, said in a statement: “There are so many underserved opportunities in the Philippines and in the region, so we need to find ways to rapidly serve those unmet needs.”

“By tapping into a large network of users and resources, we are able to accelerate time to market and expose start-up ideas to a broader audience from the get-go,” he added.

F(DEV) can also help with streamlining corporate processes, whether in commercial units, technology, human resources, legal, or finance.

“Our goal is to eventually scale start-ups to a regional level. Many times, the problems and gaps facing us here in the Philippines are very similar to what other emerging markets are experiencing,” said Mr. Marzan. — Bronte H. Lacsamana