Startup Insights and Opportunities in the Philippines

July 25, 2023

Through July 18-19, the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc (DCCCII) hosted its 7th Davao Investment Conference or Davao ICON. This year, the theme was Investments of the Future with the chamber gathering hundreds of local leaders and visionaries to put a spotlight on growing industries within the region: manufacturing, agro-processing, tourism, and information and communications technology.

Managing Partner at the Gobi-Core Philippine Fund Managing Partner Jason Gaisano alongside ICON Chairperson, Nicole Bian Ledesma (Left) and Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCCII) President, John Carlo Tria (Right).

Jason Gaisano, Managing Partner at the Gobi-Core Philippine Fund, joined the day one-panel discussion, Strategic Investments for the Future: Pioneering Growth & Innovation, sharing notes from his experience as an investor within the venture capital space.

Managing Partner Jason Gaisano engaging in the captivating panel discussion titled ‘Strategic Investment of the Future: Pioneering Growth & Innovation.

He was joined by Earl Valencia, Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer at Plentina; Emi Englis, Director at the Center for Innovation and Social Ventures at the Philippine Women’s College of Davao; John Naranjo, Founder and CEO at Ingenuity Software; Carmela Joy Magnaye, General Manager at the Development Bank of the Philippines, and Belinda Torres, EVP at the DCCCII and Founder and CEO at Jobs eSolutions, who also served as the discussion moderator.

Jason recommended that local founders should not focus solely on opportunities within the province or within Metro Manila, but should rather see the whole of Southeast Asia as one market for their disruption.

Ken Ngo, Partner at the Gobi-Core Philippine Fund, in a separate session, delivered a keynote speech at a segment on Davao’s start-up space. Founders of Artificial Intelligence Meet Human Intelligence, Geopik, Waste4Good, Buoyancies, and Yufin, presented their products and services, pitching their business models to the members of the business community.

Highlighting the county’s favourable macroeconomic backdrop, consumer digital adoption with a focus on banking system transactions, and the increasing support of the government in the forms of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), National Development Company (NDC),
Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), and Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Ken encouraged digitalisation within traditional business communities and championed a willingness to partner with technology companies.

Further, Ken highlighted the role of venture capital in building up the local technology ecosystem, sharing data on global investors and local conglomerate investors who together with other sources of capital have brought the total VC funding in the country to US$1.3 billion according to the Startup Genome Report 2023.

He spoke of increasing investor interest in the VC asset class, which as an alternative form of investment for disposable cash, presents an investor with exposure to a growing and robust industry–with emerging excitement around e-commerce, logistics, fintech, agritech, entertainment, AI, and healthtech.

“We welcome the chance to speak with Davao’s business community because technology-enabled businesses are no longer the future,” says Ken. “They’re disrupting business in the present. We’re thrilled to see more start-ups growing in the provinces and outside Metro Manila, and believe with the existing support from the government as well as local investors, this process of ecosystem development will be even faster.”

This is Gobi-Core’s first time to participate at the Davao ICON.