Focus on your values, make people the core of your strategy, and be a catalyst of change, said Filipina founders to fellow entrepreneurs at the Startup Pinay Summit held during a startup conference organized by QBO Philippines, government agencies, and the local startup ecosystem.
When she was starting her career in telecommunications, it was a very male-dominated field, said Crystal L. Gonzalez, co-founder and chief executive officer of Pick.A.Roo, a grocery, food, and shops delivery app.
“I just ignored it completely and focused on the few females that were leading it,” she said. “I said, I want to be that. You have to challenge the culture. Who else would do it?”
Ms. Gonzalez had pregnancy-induced nausea when she launched an Independence Day event for Viber, an instant messaging platform, as its country manager. She also carried a breast pump to an all-male board meeting while her baby was still in the breastfeeding stage.
“To me, it was non-negotiable. I was going to breastfeed my kids,” Ms. Gonzalez said. “It wasn’t easy…but you have to stand your ground.”
A 2020 study on gender diversity and company performance found that the more gender diversity is culturally accepted, the more this factor benefits a company’s market valuation and revenue.
There’s always the impression that you could have a career but to have to be a perfect mom as well, added Rebecca Kersch, founder and chief executive officer of Tang App, an international peer-to-peer payment app.
“Instead of being hard on yourself, be your best friend,” she said at the summit.
FOCUS ON YOUR TEAM
Your staff needs to be included in your company’s growth trajectory, according to Melissa G. Nava, co-founder and chief executive officer of 1Export, an end-to-end exporting platform. A strong team is key to a strong business.
When the pandemic started disrupting supply chains the world over, 1Export made sure it had the technology to comply with the required regulations online. It likewise ensured it had a good network of logistics partners and buyers to be able to pull through the “impossible” task of cross-border trade. The company’s team was also taken care of.
“We tested them [for COVID-19] every month,” Ms. Nava said. “Now that the whole team is vaccinated, we provide them vitamins and food to ensure they won’t be exposed.”
1Export’s cash flow wasn’t healthy when the first quarantine restrictions were announced.
“I told our team, you need to work your hardest in the next three months so we can all survive,” she said at the Nov. 19 summit. Goals were set, and regular town halls were organized to get a feel of how much progress was achieved.
The end-to-end exporting platform’s actions paid off, Ms. Nava added, as they now sell to more than 30 markets — a contrast to the four markets they served pre-pandemic.
FOCUS ON YOUR VISION
What COVID-19 did was galvanize corporations and startups to reflect on their purpose, said Ambe C. Tierro, senior managing director of Accenture Technology, a technology consulting group.
“Startups are built around this. Their driving force is purpose,” she said. “A lot of corporations also reflected on this because of COVID-19.”
The Great Resignation besetting other countries is the Great Reassessment, added Minette B. Navarrete, president and co-founder of Kickstart Ventures, the venture capital arm of telecommunications company Globe Telecom.
“A lot of our team are Millennials and Gen Zs,” Ms. Navarette said. “They are very good at reminding us what are the things that matter.”
According to the Gobi-Core Philippine Startup Ecosystem Report of 2021, the country is a hospitable environment for startups. Among the factors contributing to this environment are consumption figures that contribute to 90% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), as well as government initiatives that support startups.
Women are made of stern stuff, reminded Rowena Cristina L. Guevara, Department of Science and Technology’s undersecretary for research and development.
“When I was a college freshman, there were 70 of us in Electrical Engineering — six of whom were women. When I graduated, there were 27 of us left — six of whom were women,” Ms. Guevara said. “Women are survivors. That’s how we operate.” — Patricia B. Mirasol