Developing the next generation of ‘Filipinnovators’

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Brian C. Gozun

The View From Taft

Developing the next generation of ‘Filipinnovators’

Based on a recent study by Shikhar Ghosh of the Harvard Business School, “75% of all start-ups fail” because launching a new enterprise has always been a “hit-or-miss” proposition. Steve Blank of Stanford University further states that the decades-old formula of “writing a business plan, pitching it to investors, assembling a team, introducing a product, and start selling as hard as one can” is risky because setbacks are expected and the odds are always against the entrepreneur.

Thus, a methodology known as “lean start-up” has been introduced that favors “experimentation over elaborate planning, customer feedback over intuition, and iterative design over traditional big design up front development,” and has proven to be a quicker, better, and more efficient alternative when starting a business.

It is with this scenario that a variety of organizations worked together to provide lean start-up techniques to ten groups from all over the Philippines that already have ideas but need to level up to bring their products and services. These groups — the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DoST-PCIEERD), De La Salle University Manila (DLSU), Research Triangle Institute (RTI International), and the George Washington University (GWU) — launched a four-week, part-time experiential program on Feb. 19, at DLSU for DoST-funded researchers.

Based on the Lean Start-up Model of Stanford University, the Filipinnovation Entrepreneurship Corps Lean Start-up Training Program is an iterative process that aims “to obtain real-world learnings and insights that validate key components of the business model of a research project or product.”

According to Dr. Richard Abendan of RTI International, “it will also enable teams to determine the commercial readiness of their research, decide on whether the innovation warrants further efforts to bring to market, and develop a transition plan to bring it to market.”


In this program, teams of academic researchers, graduate students, and industry mentors learn through active outreach to customers in validating their assumptions of market needs for their products or technology.

Each team has four members: an Industry Mentor, a Principal Investigator, an Entrepreneurial Lead, and a Technology Transfer Officer. The entire team will engage with industry and will spend time learning from customers, partners, and even competitors.

The kickoff started on Feb. 19 and ended on Feb. 21, and focused on value proposition design, business model canvas, customer development, interview techniques, interview assessment, customer ecosystems, storytelling, and minimum viable product and prototypes.

Following this event, teams will have three five-day interview periods to conduct customer development interviews with potential customers.

The participants will be trained to use Launchpad Central (a “complete toolset for lean innovation”) to develop their Business Model Canvas, develop their hypotheses, and record customer development interview notes. Teams will receive online feedback from the instructors during two weekly online reviews, and individual feedback during office hours.

At a two-day virtual final event, the groups will gather in one place in the Philippines, and the instructors will deliver content remotely from the United States, and together they will discuss the lessons learned, the revenues and the costs, and market sizing.

Of course, a lot of work remains to be done since a business, whether big or small, needs time to grow, mature, and incubate, and a confluence of both human and nonhuman factors, from technical skills to entrepreneurial acumen as well as technology, equipment, machinery, and logistics.

The lean start-up method aims to reduce these constraints and develop more “Filipinnovators” who will create business both for inclusive growth and the common good.


Brian C. Gozun is Dean of the Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University.