The Startup Girlieness of Being

Right after the glorious rush of introducing great entrepreneurs in our Startup Community here in Manila (Makati, specifically) for the first Startup Grind event of the year after quite a long hiatus, I start this blog.

Most people don’t understand what I do, or what the community stands for. From the outsider’s perspective, being a cheerleader for this small brood of ambitious individuals seems glamorous and easy breezy. The travelling, the booze – sure.

What comes with the travelling and the booze? The belief that, amidst the peaks and troughs of market realities, amidst the domination of the big guys in business, the small guys can make it too:

The belief in the agility of the small guys to move fast in executing on their ideas.
The belief in the flexibility of the small guys to skirt through bottlenecks and surmount challenges.
The belief in the capability of the small guys to deliver compelling value, even to the established big guys (B2B), and/or to deliver solutions to gripping pain points of a sizeable consumer market segment (B2C).

(Let’s skip the G’s and the multiple-hop business model examples, as this is not the focal point of our topic for now. Also, when I say guys, I mean entities. Nothing sexist going on here. If anything, we need more women leaders in the startup scene, and in the overall business landscape!)

And with the status quo we revolve in– the extent of awareness we need to inject for our regulators to support the Startup Renaissance, the cultural resetting we need to recalibrate for our young ones to aspire gunning for something risky and Exponentially Fulfilling versus something stable while they have the energy of youth, the evangelization needed to convince key stakeholders in industries to embrace the Early Disruptors that can deliver exponential value to their own organizations — man, we have a long way to go.

But if no one pushes for it, who will?
We need a consolidated effort for both leaders and feeders to contribute to the growth of our Startup Ecosystem.

At this point, we need to achieve a critical mass of bringing in more crazy people into the community, who share the belief of what the collective can deliver, and letting exclusively personal interests yield to accommodate said belief.

I once caught up with a Startup Leader not too long ago, and he reminded me that, in whatever we were trying to do, in our respective roles as leaders and feeders in the Startup Ecosystem, we need to be mindful that we are not only taking a bigger chunk of the Startup Pie; we are also – and more importantly – making said Pie bigger.

So yes, Startup Life, whether assuming the role of a leader or feeder, is a long-ball game. Our return on financial / intellectual / social / cultural investment requires patience. After all, this isn’t just for us. This is for our legacy as a collective, and this is for the benefit of those who will succeed us.

So, cheers to this journey called The Startup Girliness of Being! Onwards!

What Dreams May Come

Grassroots community Technopreneur Bootcamp. Investor Meetup for portfolio founder. Press Brief. Awards night for bossings. Packing up for new spaces. Talking about solid teams. Reporting about globalization strategies. Sharing about La Prospective case studies. Talking on air to scale the opportunity of democratizing access of capital for commercializeable science and technology. This wraps up my major stuff for the week.

Now, I am giving myself the time to unwind and write before facing week 49 head-on. I was telling my classmate earlier how lutang this week has been, and how next week will continue to be, to which she shares the same sentiment. I tell her how I’ve lately been feeling more weight of owing so many things to so many people, that I’ve overlooked the virtue of being myself for myself. She ended up saying, “wow, that’s deep.”, to which we ended up just laughing it off – the lutang kind.

But seriously, as I prepare for my trip tomorrow, with the mission of highlighting the greatness of Filipino innovations and innovators among the people I will meet across the region, I will have to admit that I am getting the jitters. Not a lot of people will believe that I am an introvert, considering the kind of work I do, but I am. I simply keep being consistent at pushing myself outside my comfort zone, because I know all this is for a greater purpose, one that is well beyond my own.

This morning, my professor in strategic management and technology foresight challenged me in front of class. He told me that I am already in the thick of efforts to put PH science and technology forward, and that this needs to be sustained.

Several weeks ago, my bosses challenged me to think bigger, i.e. to dream bigger. Everyday is always a learning experience that allows for a bigger world view of matters. I am reminded of this coming fresh from doing reports on international prospective deployments, and the implementation drivers and methods of global strategy. This could not be more timely as I plan my roadmap for next year. On theory and practice, cheers!

So in spite of the stress, the discomfort , the frequent instances of being lutang, the breakouts, I am still honored and grateful for the opportunity to execute these things. I have never prayed for an easy life; rather, I would always pray for a meaningful one.

Much like supporting folks who are in it for the marathons and not the sprints, I’ll have to amplify my cheerleader skills to my best capacity (aha! so this was what those high school cheerleading stints were for! #ConnectingTheDots) for them. This is for myself AND for them.

My colleague would remind me that dreams that don’t scare me aren’t worth achieving. Perhaps he makes a good point. The path to technopreneurship is not easy, it’s a steep upclimb, and being in a role that supports them entails the same.

I remember a couple of years ago, in the thick of not seeing the deeper purpose of the things I was doing and taking up the most of my time, my fervent wish would be to do things that would enable others. It was one simple dream.

And now as I sit and type in front of my laptop, I realize I am living my dream. And this living dream is allowing me to dream bigger, dream brighter, for myself, more so for others.

We are all that we can be.
It is okay to be scared, so the fear can transform us to face bigger things.
I’ll do my best to raise the PH innovation flag high. *sweats*
PH S&T geek technopreneurs, I believe in you. I believe in us!


On Community

Flash back to the moment when I was having milkshakes and salad with my girls, my classmates back in high school, one glorious Friday afternoon, equipped with our stories, picking up where we left off after a long time of not seeing each other. Yes, milkshakes and salad may very well be a weird combination, but we are simply fine with how we roll, in our measly attempt to deviate from the herd, to challenge status quo. Nope, that was not the actual basis of why we spent the afternoon gobbling on milkshakes and salad instead of coffee and cakes. It was simply a random and spontaneous decision to spend it that way. My made up reason just sounded more interesting, I think.

Now zoom in to the conversation we had about men. Yes, men. There was talk of meeting people, options, dating, compatibility levels, priorities, timing, convenience, among other things. But that is not the meat of this post. Nope, this ain’t about menmeat. We found ourselves sharing our experiences, relating to one another, giving each other advice, at times rebutting assumptions, but often validating each others’ situations, building on them and relating it to the overall essence of life. The most notable takeaway I got out of that talk was determining the root of one’s interest for a person, whether it is falling in the idea of having someone versus actually falling for said person of interest.

She is an artist. She is a doctor in the making. She is a public servant. I am me. Me and my girls are so different yet so alike.

Zoom out and focus into current events, with all the buzz about the Binays and their abuse of power with the recent incident that happened in Dasma village. Such gripping dramatic flare in our political realities, yes. My favorite teacher in UP wrote this compelling article, shifting the focus from the characters of the story and instead pointing out the conditions in which the story revolved in. I quote:

Instead, what we have today is a fragmented megacity where we know less about each other as our communities are designed to exclude those who are unlike us.

Skip further to the part where I came across this blog post from my favorite yoga teacher,  chronicling the 5 best decisions she’s made in life. It struck me how she quoted her teacher Sharon-ji on how families sound like mafias, better thinking of our relations with each other as tribe-like instead . To quote:

..share with others what it is you want to learn and practice yourself.

This gets me thinking of the notion shared to me (by the same amazing person) on how there are only 2 root emotions where all others stem from: Love and Fear. With the complexities of our world today, self-preservist (okay, I just made that term up) tendencies are celebrated, dynasties, political or otherwise, regarded as the norm, and cordoned communities perceived as the paragon for comfort.

If we are so bent on self-preservation borne out of our fears, will we allow this to reign at the expense of others? Do we trust ourselves to make decisions that are sound for our own well-being, as much as it is for others? Do we give ourselves that chance? Do we give others that chance, regardless of whether they are our kin or not?

The etymology of community traces back to the notion of fellowship and shared interests. Despite our individual differences, it is fascinating to see the shared interests one can find with virtually anyone in this world, regardless of demographic variances. At the very minimum, we share one planet. Breakthroughs in quantum entanglement even introduce the notion of how our actions affect others independent of the context of time and space. Gripping stuff.

Forgive me if this sounds all too preachy. God knows I am as guilty as everyone else is. This is perhaps borne out of the stimulus from watching the news this morning with my dad, seeing regions fight over each other for oil and religion. But above and beyond this, above and beyond the socially accepted yearning for political supremacy, what can be done? Such complications are all so intricately intertwined in a vast web.

Then again, we are all more similar than we are different. The boundaries that perpetuate our perceived difference with each other and make us think that others are not worthy of the connections we can share to virtually anyone are meta-narratives that we have unfortunately subscribed to. They say, that to get something, one must give it first. Do we want love? Or do we want to remain stagnant in the established systems of fear? What kind of millenial social agents shall we choose to be? 

Penny for our thoughts as we welcome 2014, yes.

May we all relate less mechanically, and more purposefully.

“We are all that we’ve been waiting for.”