Dennis Uy on the lookout for the first Philippine unicorn

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Multimedia Reporter

Tech startups looking to close their next round of funding might want to add Dennis Uy on their list of potential investors. The billionaire tycoon recently announced his interest in supporting tech firms positioned to grow into the nation’s first unicorns—startups with at least a billion dollars in valuation.

Some of the more popular U.S.-based unicorns include home-sharing giant Airbnb and technology-driven brokerage firm Robinhood. To date, no company has achieved unicorn status in the Philippines.

The eldest and the only boy among four children of an entrepreneurial family, Uy has a track record of building businesses to profit and growth. His corporation, Udenna, currently has stakes in industries such as oil, gas, and retail; shipping and logistics; education; food; gaming and tourism; property development and management; and infrastructure development. “We will always look for opportunities to grow,” he told STARweek in a July 2017 interview with them.

With a net worth of US $660 million, Uy is ranked 22nd inon the Forbes’ list of the 50 richest Filipinos.

Uy bared his sentiments about this biggest business hurdle in The Manila Times business forum last March 3. He said that while the future is in tech, startups encounter fundraising problems that make it hard for them to reach their full potential.

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“The biggest hurdle is access to capital,” Uy said. “You may have the best ideas, brilliant, but if you don’t have access to capital, up to a certain level, then you won’t be able to grow the business. I dream of a time when brilliant entrepreneurs have better access to funding and are not forced to sell. Those companies can land in the top 20 in the country.”

Although he mentioned the possibility of financing promising startups “maybe in the next decade” or when he retires, he also clarified that he is not faulting creditors, as the system of requiring a borrower to pledge a property to secure a loan has been “that way for the longest time.”

“I hope our capital coming from fellow business people will be [braver], so they can face more risk and invest in the young entrepreneurs who have good ideas and scale up,” Uy said.

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