SparkUp levels up

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IN 2017, BusinessWorld Publishing Corporation launched SparkUp, a multimedia platform designed for business-minded millennials. Since then, SparkUp has established itself as a go-to source for stories about trending, novel and promising business concepts, fascinating profiles of start-ups and their founders, and tips for many young and would-be entrepreneurs.

SparkUp has now begun catering to a broader audience as a news and knowledge-sharing hub for the Philippine start-up community: millennials who run their own businesses or are planning to put up one to older start-up founders to investors and venture capitalists to the demographic cohort that comes after the millennials, also known as Generation Z.

This shift was driven to a large extent by the scant attention traditional media generally pays to the dynamic local start-up scene.

“The start-up community is an underserved community. While there are many start-ups springing from different parts of the country, there’s no singular platform they can refer to,” said Lucien C. Dy Tioco,BusinessWorld executive vice-president, who conceived SparkUp.


The initiative to reposition SparkUp came from its new editor, Santiago J. Arnaiz. “We realized that there was a big opportunity to be a hyperlocal publication that caters to Filipino start-ups,” he said.

Adopting the identity of “a news and knowledge-sharing hub for the Philippine start-up community,” he noted, “turns SparkUp into what it really was supposed to be, which is a platform to inspire, inform, and educate.”

Both the old and new readers of SparkUp can expect the same high quality of reportage that the platform has come to be known for. And though it’s become more start-up-focused, SparkUp continues to publish other business stories from which readers can draw insights they can apply in their own fields. One of the most read articles published on its Web site this year, “BTS’ Bangtan Universe and the power of transmedia storytelling,” is primarily about marketing.

And the diversity of forms that the published pieces take is something readers can always enjoy: hard news about the latest and the hottest in the start-up scene; profiles of noteworthy start-ups; listicles; long-form articles taking an in-depth look at weighty topics; explainers on trending and evergreen subjects; posts written by contributors; case studies, and more. (All the best articles published on SparkUp’s Web site are compiled into a print magazine that comes out biannually. The issues also contain exclusive content.)

The platform is also exploring the possibility of assembling comprehensive, searchable, and sortable databases of start-ups and their founders, investors and grant providers, which will no doubt come in handy for the casual and regular visitors to its Web site.

SparkUp will also be more video-centric, documenting start-up events and workshops in particular. “Video is a big part of our editorial push,” Mr. Arnaiz said. Podcasts are also being produced in collaboration with several SparkUp partners, he added.

In addition to publishing engaging stories, SparkUp stages events that bring together its readers and notable figures not only in the local start-up community but in other fields as well.

One of these events is the Spark Series, a string of seminars conducted in different universities in Metro Manila during an academic year. It features different industry experts who give students new insights into topics that matter to them. The theme for this year’s Spark Series is “Imagining the Future of Work.”

SparkUp Summit is the platform’s flagship event held annually. It’s a whole-day conference on ideation, entrepreneurship, and innovation, featuring motivational keynote speeches and thought-provoking and insightful panel discussions. The second SparkUp Summit will be held later this year.

A new series of intimate gatherings for the start-up community is being cooked up by SparkUp, and it’s called SparkUp Convos. “It will hook up start-ups with venture capitalists,” Mr. Dy Tioco said.

SparkUp Convos, which will soon be rolled out, is envisioned to be a platform where guests can have free-flowing conversations, share ideas, network, and start building partnerships and projects. Each session will be industry-specific; the first three sessions are about food and beverage, technology, and retail.

SparkUp, Mr. Arnaiz said, will try to keep growing as the needs of the local start-up community change. “We want to be as dynamic as the forces that drive the start-up community forward,” he said. “We’re trying to stay as close as possible to our community, have as many grassroots connections as possible, so that we feel the shift of needs as soon as it happens. We want to be able to respond. We want to be dynamic in that way.”

He continued, “Readers can look forward to a dynamic platform that’s up to date in terms of the news cycle, that is constantly innovating in terms of ways it can educate and share knowledge.” — FATV