Seven Pieces of the Startup Puzzle

Get some last minute inspiration for your pitch from this rundown of yesterday’s workshops.

Strategic Design Master Class with Mr. Brian Tenorio, design maverick of Tenorio Manila

“Think crazier!” Brian Tenorio, a designer and strategic communications consultant, tells the participants of his Strategic Design workshop. Brian’s shoe design label, Tenorio Manila, had stated gaining fame through winning the Battle of the Business Plans and several other business competitions.

In this workshop, he shared his experience and taught the participants how to think of solutions to problems and situations more efficiently. He told them to think of ideas that would benefit the same age group as them, since this is the perspective they understand the most.


He asks the participants to think of a possible solution for the traffic situation in EDSA. Answers ranged from carpooling to commuting together. Brian always told them to think bigger.

“If you can think of a normal solution for it, someone has probably already thought of it,” he says after hearing similar answers. “I want weirder ideas!” The participants then began to think of crazy ideas such as zip lining to your destination or teleportation. “With these crazy ideas, how can you make it more realistic for the present day?” He challenges the participants to make these ideas possible.

“Always take things on from the perspective of something you are an expert of.” Brian emphasizes that uniqueness is important in pitching in an idea, as well as fully understanding the idea you’re coming up with.

He adds: “Don’t pitch in something you don’t even understand.”

Startup Product Prototyping Workshop with Joan Magno, Project Manager at Kalibrr

“People don’t know what they want – it’s up to you to innovate.” Is what you want what you really really want? This question piqued the interest of the YouthHack participants having them reconsider what the customer actually wants versus what they actually need.

Joan Magno, a graduate and Summa Cum Laude of Ateneo de Manila University and now the Product Manager at Kalibrr, a website that offers career advice and job opportunities to fresh college graduates, discusses the process of product development using modern technology as a platform.

joan magno

“The best way to learn is to get paid for something you’ve never done before.” Ms. Magno first shares how she got motivated to explore and innovate beyond what she thought capable. The value of honing particular and well sought-after skills are what catapulted her above the rest.

“Customers aren’t innovators – you are.” Reading between the lines is a skill familiar to most if not all, in product development. This means going beyond what the customer says they want and dig deeper and deeper into what they actually want and need. “Open you mind and open your ears […] don’t solve everything, loot at the opportunities.”

She says that the repetitiveness branches out different roots of different problems. From there, one can have several ideas on how to solve them.

“Ideas are cheap. Execution is gold,” Magno adds. Having similar ideas isn’t the end. Another key to success is to monopolize and eliminate similar ideas that can potentially threaten your own. One must also find a balance between innovation and familiarity.

Magno wraps up the talk by challenging the students to “create products that people will love and talk about.”

Marketing Workshop with Uber’s Raymond Castillo 

“Marketing is a tool for startup founders” says  Mr. Raymond Castillo, former Brand Manager of P&G, and Operations Community Analytics lead at Uber. With this introduction, he noted that in this day and age, “marketing has lost his meaning” because of the negative connotation that it has gathered over time. Through his workshop, he gave marketing a more “fun” meaning, and stressed its importance in the world of startups by debunking common myths and encouraging participants to disrupt the system and think outside the box.

“You’re selling your prospects a better version of themselves” he explained, while trashing the Wikipedia description of the word ‘marketing.’ “It doesn’t matter how you do it – if you don’t, there will be no business.” It is important to learn to forget the mentality that as long as we are not marketers, we cannot sell.

Key habits are needed to establish this: curiosity, empathy, hustling, and clarity. What is crucial is to “tell stories that drive action” and focus on the “why” of things instead of the “how.” This way, it is easier to make an impact on the target and delve into their motivations. An efficient marketer puts himself in the place of their audience, so they can gain interest and find out why they do what they do.

Marketing workshop by Raymond Castillo #StartupChallenge2015 Reposted from @luisco413 #YHWorkshops #YHStartupChallenge

A photo posted by YouthHack Manila (@youthhackmnl) on


Mr. Castillo also introduced a few marketing strategies to the participants: “Don’t do what’s already been done. Ride the wave that’s already growing.” He listed thee important points that could strengthen the way a product is marketed: branding, platform, and pricing. These were further explained through the workshop, where participants were asked to market a product that would potentially become a gifting service. The group created “Your Presence Through Presents,” a program targeted towards grandchildren, OFWs, soldiers, foreign students, and couples in long distance relationships.

He ended his session encouraging participants to “Do your own thing immediately. Don’t let anything hinder you. There’s no excuse not to create your own idea. It will be a bit scary, but exciting. Put yourself out there. Reach out to people.”

E-Commerce and Digital Marketing with Mark Joseph Panganiban of Shopinas

“When you decide on a startup, focus on something that hasn’t been done,” Mark Joseph Panganiban,Head of Sales & Marketing of Shopinas, says. Shopinas is an online shopping website tailor-fit for Filipinos here and across the globe, and he discusses the empowerment of Filipino entrepreneurs through E-commerce.

mark p

(Photo from Panganiban’s Twitter)

Mr. Panganiban shares that there are five key steps in starting and maintaining an online business:

1.    Build a website

This one’s a no-brainer; you need a custom domain, and a unique and easy-to-navigate-through website. “Ideally, you should also have a shopping cart option.” This gives them a sense of traditional shopping.

2.    Invest and Integrate Payment systems

97% of Filipinos do not own credit cards while 73% are unbanked – this makes payment options quite difficult, as cash-on-delivery is your only other option.

3.    Setup and Coordinate with Shipping Companies

In a country full of islands, it’s no joke that delivery is one of the key components in preserving your online business. Shipping is going to be a major headache if not handled with properly.

4.    Get a trust seal

You can apply for a trust seal practically anywhere online. This ensures reliability, and it builds trust and a sense of partnership between you and your customers.

5.    Promote the online store

“I cannot stress this further – utilize social media.” Social media is also a crucial point in online commerce. Studies show that Filipinos are more likely to connect with companies and brands via social media.  While there are numerous advantages to social media, such as its accessibility, massiveness, ability to target a specific market and force integrity on a brand and business, it is also extremely necessary to handle it with care as well. The power of media nowadays can not only make or break you, but it can also be abused. A negative sentiment could bring you and your company down faster than double-tapping on Instagram.

social media

(Stock Image from Just Creative)

Knowing how to build a website and handle shipping orders aren’t the only things you need in order to fully succeed in your e-business. You must also possess the “E-commerce mind” – purpose, business models, finance, marketing, customer relationships, and technology. Mr. Panganiban stresses that  E-commerce will one day trump the traditional or offline method of shopping. 

He ends his talk on an inspiring note: “Share your passion. Use it to benefit others.”

Eurekafe: Ideation Workshop

“Do you have the next big idea?” When greeted with aplomb by a chorus of resounding yeses, this question is a glimpse into the initial stages of “technopreneurship.”

Ideaspace, a non-profit organization founded on the advocacies of technological development, innovation, and entrepreneurship, is no stranger to this term. Through organizing events that educate the youth on conceptualizing products that lead to solutions, this startup incubator is able to facilitate the design thinking process of future technopreneurs.


“We believe in you, but you must believe in yourselves too,” explains speaker Goldy Yancha on the value of conviction in the world of Ideation. As the Associate Director of Community Development, she has come to realize that “development is not development if it is not sustainable.” Knowing that “ideas do not happen overnight” is understanding that constructing a unique design consists of multiple steps towards completion.

Andrew Cua, winner of the Global Startup Youth competition in Malaysia, facilitates this process through the “Eurakafé:  Ideation Workshop.” This workshop introduces students to a five-point platform on design thinking in problem solving: “Discover, interpret, ideate, experiment, and evolve.”

As a wise saying in the startup world goes, “Do not just build on your product, get out of the building.” This is the vision that IdeaSpace aims to encapsulate. Through working together to bring technology into the world, ideas are catapulted into reality. It is an organization that puts the minority at the top of the scoreboard – empowering the youth to leave behind their couches and televisions for a chance at disrupting the Philippine system.

In the words of IdeaSpace chairman, Manuel V. Pangilinan, “I was born poor but poor was not born in me. Whatever you may wish to do with your future, you can make it.”

Growth Hacking Workshop with Roxanne Lim of Kalibrr and ASES President Jaime Young

“Don’t think in a traditional way. Try to disrupt.” All of the most prominent and flourishing start-ups of today began from scratch. So how did they do it? Roxanne Lim, the Marketing Manager at Kalibrr who has grown the online assessment platform’s user base to almost 200,000 people in half a year, explains the simple solution: growth hacking.

Every budding start-up has its sights set on particular goals, and for marketers in the digital age, the primary goal is to find new users. However, constraints such as limited budgets, small teams, unstructured plans, risks, and inexperience tend to form brick walls hindering them from success. Using growth hacking, or as she defines it “not so traditional marketing,” technopreneurs can hack their way through these brick walls and achieve their desired objectives.

In this workshop, Miss Lim puts the YouthHack participants to the test by placing them in her own shoes. She lists the current constraints she currently faces in her profession, while the students in their respective groups were quick to retaliate with some unconventional yet resourceful solutions.

“Entrepreneurship is like staring into the abyss and eating glass,” Jaime Young quotes Elon Musk, CEO and CTO of SpaceX. Young, the president of the Asia-Pacific Student Entrepreneur Society (ASES) and former intern at Kalibrr, further emphasizes the harsh realities fledgling start-ups go through in their early stages.

But he combats this statement by telling the students that as entrepreneurs they have the ability to “bend reality to [their] will.” Through knowing their market, constantly failing to know what works (and what doesn’t), and rewriting the rules of the world—or in short, growth hacking, he assures them that their start-ups will eventually skyrocket from their infancy to their maturity.

Ultimately, Miss Lim and Mr. Young encapsulate the crux of the workshops in four main tips for growth hacking:

1.     EXPERIMENT fast.

2.     FAIL (FAIL, FAIL) faster.

3.     PAUSE to learn.

4.     ITERATE fastest.

Developing and Marketing the Next Unicorn Product with Joe Maristela and Pinky Natividad of

“Why do we care about unicorns?” Joe Maristela of, unicorn-hunter and venture capitalist extraordinaire, asks his audience. The answer is simple: “we are greedy.”

Unicorns – startup companies that have a market value of one billion dollars – are not chimerical in nature. In fact, this year could see the most billion-dollar club entrants. We are on track for at least fifty unicorns this 2015, and entrepreneurs have a higher chance of creating a unicorn today than last year. Unicorns are legendary but hardly mythical – with the right product development, any startup creator can go from zero to hero.


No, not this kind of unicorn. Not as rare, but just as magical. (Photo from here

“Basically everyone pitches the same thing,” Maristela says. Sure, there may be new ways to pitch ideas, but many of these pipe dreamers don’t know how to get there, get their market – they have a vision but little else. What separates unicorns from horses with cones on their heads, then, is the strength of product development. Don’t mistake your initial idea as your final product. There is a reason why unicorn growth is mapped as a hockey stick – growth is fast, and growth is constant.

Maristela cites Google Chrome as the epitome of marketing success. “When it first came it, it was a no-frills browser. But now, it has all these apps.” And of course, it has been consistently on the rise. He adds: “The strategy with Google is that they created something free, cheap, and easy to use in order to enter the marketplace.”


(Photo from Pingdom

Unicorns are a great way to keep score, as “a million dollars doesn’t get you much” any more.

The session quickly turned hands-on as Maristela asked the crowd to come up with a product that they want to take to the market. “Describe it, explain it, demo it if you have the wherewithal to do so,” he says. “Describe how you will market it.”

Randomly created teams, composed of different students from high schools and universities in the metro, were challenged to pitch to Maristela and Founder Pinky Natividad, rising stars of the Philippine venture capital industry. They only had thirty minutes to plan. Maristela and Natividad then dissected their ideas with the same sharpness that propelled them to the zenith of the startup accelerator world.


Ideas that emerged from the brainstorming session ranged from seismic detectors to a “kickstarter for causes and charities,” from an efficient e-commerce site for computers and computer parts to an app that compares prices of items from groceries near you, from an online wishlist to a reliable Filipino online dictionary.

“When you can’t think [of anything],” Natividad offers, “think of an ‘Uber for something.'” Think of any on-demand industry that can be disrupted – then disrupt it. That is where the unicorn may be found.

Input by the Startup Challenge Social Media Team 2015 (C. Crespo, M. De Jesus, R. Galvez, L. Jocson, T. Naval, C. Sierras, and M. Vicencio)

3 A number of YouthHack community members have read and recommended this for you.

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