Source: Manila Bulletin
The search for the next big thing in the Philippine startup scene takes centerstage once again as CNN Philippines’ ‘The Final Pitch (TFP)’ launches its 8th season that will focus on an all-tech lineup of startups and entrepreneurs.
This comes at a perfect time when the local startup ecosystem is experiencing a boom with a 179% increase in raised funding in 2021 to as much as $1 billion, generating interest from local and international investors.
Returning investor-judges John Janusczcak, President and CEO of UBX, recognized as the Fastest Growing Fintech Company in South East Asia in 2020; former TFP mentor turned-investor-judge Amor Maclang of Geiser-Maclang, the convenor of Digital Pilipinas and World Fintech Festival – Philippines, and the forthcoming Philippine Fintech Festival; Rosemarie Bosch-Ong, SEVP and COO of Wilcon Depot, and one of the directors of the Proptech Consortium of the Philippines, reprise their roles in the show.
Also joining as new investor judges are Wei Zhou, CEO of Coins.ph, the largest crypto wallet in the Philippines; Francis Plaza, co-founder and CEO of PayMongo, and one of the leading fintechs in the country; and Avin Ong, founder and CEO of Fredley Group of Companies who has under his belt a consortium of over 250 restaurants and café branches in the Philippines.
The show is now accepting applications for entrepreneurs to pitch their idea stage, existing, and scale-up startups that are ready for their next stage of growth. “This will be our biggest season yet,” TFP creator and host John Aguilar said. “The 8th season of the show is a very deliberate slant towards tech and we are looking forward to backing startups that will help our economy transition back to pre-pandemic growth levels.”
Wei Zhou cited how technology is here to solve problems. “Yes, we are seeing a whole new set of issues arise. Still, new technologies like blockchain, guarantees authenticity, immutable data, etc. These are the types of things that technology addresses. We’re looking for startups that have creative solutions for real problems. We want to work with a founding team with a strong vision, clear goals, and the drive to get things done.”
John Januszczak said they want to drive inclusive prosperity. “We genuinely believe that technology is the great equalizer. I am so happy to be back, especially with this edition being the tech edition, and I think tech is the driver of financial inclusion. What we’re looking for is a ruthless product that fits the market. These are blockchain-powered, cryptocurrency, and DeFi (decentralized finance) -focused ideas. We are looking for people who are willing to do the hard work.”
Francis Plaza said that the internet has become more and more invisible. “Because of technology, people can start a business in their garage. That, to me, is amazing. We are looking for founders who share the same grit as we do and work together to make changes in the community. Technology, at the end of the day, should help make people’s lives easier,” Plaza adds.
Amor Maclang added, “Digital Pilipinas, the largest private sector-led movement to tech up the Philippines, leads and starts movements in industries that are high risk, high value, highly misunderstood, and also highly regulated so it’s natural that as early as 2016, we championed Web 3 and all of these nascent technologies – blockchain, crypto, fintech — with some of the leading organizations and governments in ASEAN. However, all of these technologies without mass uptake are virtually for naught. And that has been our mission, which is #massuptake.”
Rosemarie Ong, for her part, said: “I got excited when I learned that it was a tech edition. Before the pandemic, Wilcon was already beefing up our digital footprint. Wilcon was a startup 45 years ago and we are looking for startups that can help us accelerate.” Ong added she is ready to both be a judge and astute mentor as was her role in the previous season.
Avin Ong, Founder and CEO of Fredley Group of Companies, offered his advice to the contestants, “It’s essential that we stay hungry, stay curious, and do more to achieve more.” He went on to say, “We are thinking of expanding across Asia, and it is important to utilize technology. We were one of the first players to shift to e-payment during the pandemic immediately, and we are looking forward to automating and digitizing our internal and external processes.”
In addition, Streamlined Campaigns Philippines Managing Director Kaiser Estrada will serve as one of the mentors for the season. Estrada will provide his expertise to the contestants and mentor them in maximizing the benefits of online strategies and social media platforms for their businesses.
Filming of TFP will be held from July 5-6, 2022 in Okada Manila, the show’s exclusive hotel and venue partner. Okada Manila SVP for Hotel Operations Ivaylo S. Ivanov, who will come in as a guest judge, said “Being one of the technologically advanced resorts in the country, it’s the perfect match for us. Looking forward to some fantastic creative idea and talents out there.
Aguilar concludes that Season 8 would serve as a prelude and a run-up to The Final Pitch: ASEAN, which will involve Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam by 2023 and filmed and broadcast across Asia. “We are aiming for the show to be the regional platform that will enable cross border investment and cooperation across Southeast Asia. Proudly Filipino produced, for a global audience.”
Interested applicants for The Final Pitch Season 8: Tech Edition can fill up the application form at TheFinalPitch.ph/application or get in touch with the show at submit@TheFinalPitch.ph or admin@DragonsNest.co. Deadline for submission of applications is by June 24, 2022. TFP premieres July 31, 2022, 8:30pm on CNN Philippines and is produced by Streetpark Productions Inc.