Sparking up the future of the business world

Cover art Erka Inciong

Words by

Digital Reporter

The evening of May 12, 2018 was no different from the other nights in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig: the business district was alive with lights from ubiquitous skyscrapers lining its exact grid pattern.

Before the sun set, the case was just the same — only the sparks were in the form of jolts of inspiration from nearly 500 delegates at the first ever SparkUp Summit, BusinessWorld SparkUp’s annual conference on ideation, entrepreneurship and innovation, held at the Samsung Hall of SM Aura in BGC.

Organized by SparkUp, BusinessWorld’s multimedia platform for the next generation of business people, the conference put the spotlight on the thriving business community, the progressive start-up ecosystem, and the future industry leaders through an immersive learning experience.

Co-presented by Globe myBusiness Academy, SparkUp Summit was a whole-day affair filled with motivational keynotes, thought-provoking sessions, and insightful panel discussions. It was mounted in partnership with Accenture Philippines and supported by Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc. and FWD Life Insurance Corp.

This year’s theme, “Idea Capital of the Business World,” highlighted how the new force of entrepreneurs grew and developed fresh and novel business ideas.

Francis Kong, director of Inspire Leadership Consultancy, opened the summit by discussing the fundamentals of running a business.

Francis J. Kong



In order to succeed in business, he said an entrepreneur should “continue learning, rise up and grind, and compete with pros” to “elevate standard and benchmark.”

“You have to understand the why of what you want to do in business,” Mr. Kong said in his keynote speech.

Millennial food entrepreneurs Sean Bautista of Tetsuo and Francis Reyes of Caravan Food Group, Inc. shared pointers on how to come up with creative business concepts.

Mr. Bautista emphasized the importance of having an “artistic approach,” saying it can “augment your business.”

Sean Bautista of Tetsuo

“Don’t be afraid of injecting things that are not conventional in your industry,” he said.

The trio of Ali Sangalang, Panch Alvarez and Jim Bacarro, who run local clothing company Linya-Linya, shared the stage to tackle how to build a remarkable brand.

In introducing a concept that will entice the local market, Mr. Sangalang said business owners “have to know, understand, and experience the Filipino way of life.” “You have to interact and engage with the people in order to create relatable content and products.”

To maintain fresh, creative ideas, Mr. Bacarro said one should “interact” and “immerse” in “new environments so new solutions can come out.”

Panch Alvarez of Linya linya

Mr. Alvarez shared an advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, “’Wag kayong matakot mag-start. Kahit saan ang starting point, lundagin nyo.”

Gino Borromeo, vice-president and chief strategy officer of McCann WorldGroup Philippines, talked about the importance of a strong branding for a business.

“Your brand has to stand for something meaningful to people,” he said. “If you don’t stand for anything, you [won’t] stand out.”

Gino Borromeo of McCann Worldgroup Philippines

Leading a marketing agency that is behind some of the most popular and successful product campaigns in the country, Mr. Borromeo shared how his company incorporates creative concepts in coming up with effective projects for their clients.

“People’s idea of a brand comes from their experience with the brand. The really remarkable brands will delight you by giving you something you don’t expect,” Mr. Borromeo said.

Chef Miko Aspiras

Meanwhile, Tasteless Food Group founder Miko Aspiras, and Tralulu founder and CEO Andrew Cua shared how their businesses cater to Filipino consumers by incorporating Filipino experience into their offerings.

In a panel discussion moderated by Patch Dulay — founder and CEO of The Spark Project — Mr. Bautista, Mr. Borromeo, Mr. Aspiras, and Daniel Lumain — co-founder and COO of Akaba Ltd. Design Co. — tackled the opportunities that global trends open for local businesses.

Second keynote speaker Joan Yao, vice-president of Kickstart Ventures, Inc., shared her years of experience working with startups.

Joane Yao of Kickstart Ventures, Inc.

She said that the “increasing accessibility and availability of the internet” to more Filipinos “is creating opportunities to reach more consumers.”

Mr. Lumain and Carmina Bayombong, founder and CEO of social enterprise InvestEd, talked about running an impact-driven business while ensuring sustainability.

Carmina Bayombong of InvestEd

“I urge you to search for your advocacy and dive right into it. All you need to do is to start,” Ms. Bayombong said.

Petalier founders Diane Yap and Lauren Gavino, as well as Pushkart.ph founder and CEO Joshua Aragon, shared their strategies in utilizing the digital space to grow their businesses.

Shubhabrata Sengupta, lead innovator at Accenture Philippines, and Shahab Shabibi, co-founder and CEO of Machine Ventures, gave a glimpse of how innovation is changing the landscape of different industries.

Shubhabrata Sengupta of Accenture Philippines

“Every disturbance is helping us to think something different, to think beyond our basic understanding; that’s where innovation comes,” Mr. Sengupta said.

For his part, Mr. Shabibi said a company’s success is measured beyond its margins. He said that “the most successful companies are those with shared missions.”

Shahab Shabibi of Machine Ventures

On how innovation brought by technology shapes the business landscape, Mr. Shabibi said, “The future is happening right now. Anything that you’ll be using in the next couple of years are already in the making.”

An insightful panel discussion on the future of the local tech startup scene concluded the summit.

Moderated by Katrina Chan, executive director of QBO Philippines, Ms. Bayombong, Mr. Shabibi, Mr. Cua and Mr. Aragon shared how they see the country’s startup ecosystem in the next few years, especially with the emergence of new technologies.

The future may be uncertain, but with SparkUp Summit’s speakers, there’s a whole new business world to look forward to.


SparkUp Summit, which will be held annually, is brought to you by BusinessWorld’s SparkUp and Globe myBusiness Academy; in partnership with Accenture Philippines; supported by FWD Life Insurance Corp. and Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc.; with organization partners Go Negosyo, Young Entrepreneurs Society, Society of Thomasian Entrepreneurs, FEU Entrepreneurship Club, ADMU AMA, PJMA, DLSU BMS, UE JFINEX, UA&P BEA, JCFAP, UST JFINEX, NU NSE, UPCE, AIESEC PH, and PUP JME; media partners Philippine Star, Philippine Star Campus, DZUP, The LaSallian, NU The National, The Benildean, The New Builder, adobo magazine, Green Giant FM, TOMCAT, Jumpstart Magazine, and iMPACT; venue partners SM Aura Premier; event partners Fiera de Manila, Inc. and Voyager Innovations, Inc.; featured brands My Chef Philippines, Bagwings, Candid Coffee, The Blends Project, Natural Health Philippines, Bayani Brew, StyleGenie PH, Linya-Linya, Gouache, Guppy Shorts, Machine Ventures, Taxumo, Pushkart.ph – Grocery Delivery, and Project T Solutions.



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