I’ve always been inspired by Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and other visionaries who, at an early age, transformed their ideas into realities.
These past few months, after graduating from high school, I’ve been immersing myself in the one field I’ve always been interested in: entrepreneurship.
Last May 1, I got to attend the Wharton Business Plan Competition Venture Finals. Not only did I get to watch the different finalists present their startup business plans, but I also got to talk to them and hear about their entrepreneurial adventures.
I came out of the event knowing that there are numerous students out there starting their own ventures early, and I asked myself once more: “Why can’t I do it, too?”
Returning to the Philippines, I pursued my ideas by seeking advice, attending business conferences, and delving deeper on what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
My first real exposure to the Philippine startup business scene was at the Ripplrz Tech Startup Conference, where I got to hear from entrepreneurial thought-leaders and interact with other people.
It was a completely different environment, with everyone excited about his or her ideas in various fields including e-commerce, tourism, technology, real estate, telecommunications and media.
My group ended up proposing to create a social networking website with focus on tourism. With one of my group mates involved in the hostel industry, we wanted to think of a way to expand the business while promoting Philippine tourism.
A month later, I got to attend the DreamExpo Manila hosted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which showcased several Filipino innovators, social entrepreneurs and game-changers in the Philippines.
“There’s no dream greater than a dream for the country,” said Prim Paypon, founder of the Dream Project PH and organizer of Dream Expo Manila 2014.
Known as the “social entrepreneur senator,” Bam Aquino talked about how Filipinos should tackle age-old problems with creative and innovative solutions.
Agreeing that we need to encourage social entrepreneurship, Patch Dulay, the founder and CEO of Spark Project, talked about unlocking the untapped potential of Filipinos. Through Spark Project (www.thesparkproject.com), he said he was urging Filipinos to use social media and crowd funding to turn their business ideas into reality.
Works of Heart (www.worksofheartph.com) founder Roxy Navarro also challenged the delegates to ask themselves, “What does the world need? Who am I? What keeps me up at night and wakes me up in the morning?”
These same lines continue to inspire me to wake up each day to work on my different projects, and to explore new ventures.
More than just listening to motivational speakers, the beauty in going to all these events was the network I was able to build. I was able to meet individuals from different organizations, working in a myriad of sectors.
Age doesn’t matter
Although I have just graduated from high school, attending all these events showed me that age doesn’t really matter when it comes to starting your own projects. Sometimes, all it takes to make a difference is the courage to do it.
Having said that, I’d like to invite all high schoolers out there to attend the first high school technopreneurship challenge, YouthHack Manila 2014.
(Applications are available on youthhackmanila.typeform.com/to/upEOjF. For more updates, check out www.facebook.com/YouthHackMNL.)
On the first day of YouthHack Manila 2014, students will learn how to turn their ideas into actual products and business plans. They’ll be hearing from renowned Filipino entrepreneurs and innovators like IdeaSpace Foundation co-founder and president Earl Valencia, Freelancer.com regional director Jojy Auzrin, and Kalibrr CEO Paul Rivera.
On the second day, the students will be given time to develop their ideas and business plans, as they will be given the opportunity to present to real CEOs and investors. They will have a chance to win P10,000 cash, P50,000 worth of scholarships, mentorship and acceleration sessions from IdeaSpace Foundation, and lots of other amazing prizes from our various sponsors.
We want to encourage the youth to explore the ways we can utilize technology in solving real world problems. We want to inspire them to come up with innovative ideas and turn them into real world products.
And there’s no better way to do this than putting them in a Silicon Valley-type of environment that encourages a culture of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.
It’s an exciting time right now to be a Filipino, and you never know—the next Mark Zuckerburg, Steve Jobs or Bill Gates success story might just be that of a Filipino.