|Dark horse Team Keep Up emerges as winner in Startup Weekend Davao pitching competition. In photo (from L-R): Jasper Adlaon, Mary Mynell Mariano, Alexandra Victoria Eneco, and Marcel Tunichii Villaruz
A group of Information Technology students from Ateneo de Davao University bagged the top spot in the recently concluded Startup Weekend Davao, a 54-hour pitching competition sponsored by Kickstart Ventures, Inc. and Globe Telecom where developers, designers, marketers, and product managers come together to share ideas, form teams, and build products using mobile and web platforms.
Alexandra Victoria “Alex” Eneco, Marcel Tunichii “Ichi” Villaruz, Mary Mynell “My” Mariano, and Jasper Adlaon bested 50 other participants with their novel idea called “Keep Up”, an application primarily designed for event organizers and people who are interested in joining various activities whether it is a party, a seminar, a game, a jamming session, a workshop or any get together one can think of.
Using the popular concept of social media, Keep Up intends to become the primary source of information about events in the country. Event organizers can use it to create events, advertise their activities and attract participants. On the other hand, interested parties who are members of Keep Up can view what is happening around them and signify their interest to join by just a click of a button.
The application also allows users to see what their friends are doing — the events they have been to and the ones they want to attend. There is also a portion where participants can voice out their opinions and talk about the event.
“We are fond of social media. We make use of it a lot. For us, it is something that we can integrate, and it is something that we can actually work on. There are people who will be interested because the Philippines is all about the hype about what’s going on, what’s happening right now so it’s safe to say that there’s a market for it and we’re ready,” said Alex.
Before conquering the national scene, Keep Up wants to make its mark in its hometown, Davao City. “People don’t really know the skills and capabilities that are available here in Davao. We want to put ourselves on the map. When you talk about technology and latest events, it’s always in Manila and Cebu. Davao is not only about Durian, we also have a lot to offer,” she added.
My, on the other hand, said they plan to try the app first in Ateneo and see how the 8,000-strong student community will accept it. “We’re not claiming to be trendsetters but the trend should start from somewhere,” she said.
Ironically, Keep Up was a last minute decision of the group. Ichi’s idea centered around a portable dictionary with automatic translator, Alex wanted an app to block unwanted text messages, while Jasper was interested in a virtual fitting room. The name Keep Up was taken from “Keepop” which took off from My’s proposal of bringing together people interested in the Korean pop scene.
“After Keepop, the group talked about festivals but I felt it was still limited so I presented to them a proposal about an application that will cater to all events under the sun and that is when Keep Up was born,” said Jasper.
The students joined Startup Weekend Davao as part of their Technopreneurship class and had never imagined emerging as winners. “We joined Startup Weekend Davao because it was a once in a lifetime experience. It was scary at first knowing that the people around us were all good at this while we don’t even know anything about the outside world,” said My.
Pia Angeli Bernal, Social Enterprise Investments Manager of Kickstart said: “It is exciting to see students showing interest in technopreneurship at such a young age and even winning competitions like Startup Weekend. We look forward to more students who would form startup companies and use current technology to come out with new and innovative products for mobile and the web. Kickstart would be more than willing to harness the capabilities of these students and guide them into becoming future technopreneurs.”
Kickstart is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Globe Telecom which helps tech startups in the Philippines build robust businesses and technical foundations that will allow them to become bigger and better. “We do this by putting big company resources such as capital, facilities, expertise, and business connections behind the startups that we fund so they can launch faster and achieve scale profitability sooner,” Pia added.
On the other hand, Dulce Rose Lada, lead organizer of Startup Weekend Davao expressed happiness over the support the event received from the academe. “We’re glad to see the academe reaching out to the industry. We consider ourselves lucky to have student participants. They are new to this but they bring a different vibes to Startup Weekend.”
Lada noted that although the startup industry in Davao is still in the infancy stage, they can still easily compete with the rest of the country.
In fact, she said that the first and second place winners in last year’s Startup Weekend Davao have formed a new startup and won AngelHack Philippines, giving them the opportunity to represent the Philippines in Silicon Valley. “It is a very big leap for the community and their story inspires us to move on and continue,” she added.