Gobi-Core Philippine Fund Unveils the Philippine Startup Ecosystem Report 2021
November 15, 2021
The Gobi-Core Philippine Fund Ecosystem Report 2021 sheds light on the growing startup ecosystem in the Philippines both in relation to its ASEAN neighbors and as a promising technology ecosystem in its own right.
The time is ripe for the Philippines to take its place in the world as a
key player in the technology sphere.
The Philippines’ local tech market is still nascent:
Although a digital economic gap exists, there is strong potential for the country’s market to experience robust growth. Moreover, even though local startups see less funding than their SEA counterparts, the funding gap is not insurmountable. A major challenge would be hesitancy on the part of technopreneurs to enter the market, a situation which is already slowly changing for the better.
Strong support and initiatives are present to develop the ecosystem:
Since 2010, the Philippine government has begun implementing sound initiatives to support the startup and tech ecosystem, including the creation of laws, funds, and incubation and development programs. Meanwhile, the corporate sector – both local and foreign – have significantly increased funding and angel investing which is being channeled towards Philippine startups, leading to the emergence of the likes of Sinigang Valley, which aims to be the first true startup tech hub in the country at the heart of Makati City. Additionally, efforts aimed at the fortification of the ecosystem Iron Triangle (covering the logistics, e-commerce, and fintech sectors) are expected to lead to strong growth within the near future.
There are strong indicators of the potential direction of the Philippine market:
Technopreneur focus will be increasingly influenced by environmental (E) and social (S) impacts, such as sustainability and equality/equity issues. There will be a preference for Camels – startups that have survived harsh business climates, and are resilient, cautious, committed, and customer-focused – over the more common Unicorns. Additionally, two sectors – entertainment, and crypto-gaming – have the strongest potential to draw in funding in a post-pandemic world economy.
Now is a golden opportunity to invest in the Philippine tech ecosystem.
The Philippines Compared to the Rest of the ASEAN 6
The Philippines has the second-largest population in the ASEAN 6.
For the year 2020, the country also has the third largest GDP.
However, the Philippines lags behind in other categories: it has the second lowest GDP per capita and the lowest GMV per capita of the ASEAN 6.
In 2019, only 2.1% of US$29 B invested in the ASEAN 6 went to the Philippines.
This means the country was beaten by neighbors that had smaller populations and economies (measured by GDP).
However, certain factors in the Philippines contribute to a hospitable environment for startups.
Consumption is 90% of gdp when the regional average is 67%, and pre-pandemic income showed average annual growth of 4.5%.
These imply an emerging middle class with growing purchasing power, which sets the philippines as one of the most dynamic countries in the region.
Technology in Every Day: a Hospitable Space for Startups
The Philippines has become a more hospitable space for startup founders: aside from the government changes mentioned in the report, internet speeds have grown by 280% for fixed broadband and 203% for mobile internet.
Digital payments have also seen a giant surge: PESONet and InstaPay both saw giant jumps in 2020—376% and 459%, respectively.
The Philippine Startup Ecosystem
The Iron Triangle refers to the industries of e-commerce, logistics, and fintech/finance.
These three industries are the pillars of the startup ecosystem, and their success heralds the success of the ecosystem as a whole.
FUNDRAISES IN THE ECOSYSTEM
The total sum of equity fundraises from January to October of 2021 is $858 M, 97.83% of the sum of equity fundraises from 2017 to 2020.
Ten months of 2021 are almost equal to four years of raises.
2021, THE YEAR OF THE SERIES B
Prior to 2021, the highest raise in the Philippines was Series A.
But in 2021 alone, three startups were able to raise Series B and Kumu even raised Series C. All three startups come from the e-commerce industry, one of the three pillars of the Iron Triangle.
Two startups also had Pre-Series B raises—both of which hail from fintech and finance, another pillar of the Iron Triangle.
THE SECTORS OVER THE YEARS
The country has witnessed explosive growth not only in valuation, but in the number of startups as well. The COVID-19 pandemic brought a boom of startups, and the trend seems to be going strong into the future.
The three pillars of the Iron Triangle all saw rapid growth during the pandemic: e-commerce welcomed the most entrants, fintech saw unprecedented amounts of digital transactions, and logistics experienced accelerated growth to adapt to the pandemic. With these three sectors as the cornerstone, the rest of the ecosystem has the space to flourish.