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High school students show they mean business in the first youth ‘hackathon’

/ 03:04 AM August 01, 2014

With a five-month break before heading to the US for his university studies, incoming University of Pennsylvania freshman and Inquirer contributor David Ongchoco wondered what it would be like to organize a high school “hackathon.” The problem was he didn’t know where to start.

But with encouragement from his mentor, Martin Gomez, and startup community connections provided by Tom Gotuaco of Purple Cow, the pieces slowly fell into place, and YouthHack Manila 2014, the first ever high school “hackathon” and “technopreneurship” challenge in the Philippines, was born.


Ongchoco, together with YouthHack Manila co-founder Michelle Abigan and organizing committee members Deondre Ng, Myka Cue and Janelle Panganiban, invited the best and the brightest from top schools in Metro Manila. The response was overwhelming, as more than 100 students from close to 20 different high schools flocked to YouthHack Manila 2014 at Gates Professional Schools on July 12-13.  The event was co-presented by Gates and social change-maker startup WeDid Ventures.

On the first day of the event, students got to hear from keynote speaker Earl Valencia, president and co-founder of IdeaSpace Foundation and VP of Corporate Innovation at SMART Communications.


Following the keynote speech, participants buckled down to work as they went through an ideation workshop given by Goldy Yancha of IdeaSpace Foundation.

Jorge Azurin of gave a workshop on the Lean Canvas, and how to outline the key points of your business plan. Paul Rivera, CEO of Kalibrr, challenged the students to come up with minimum viable products in a short amount of time. He then showed students the different steps in developing a prototype.

After listening to Asia-Pacific Student Entrepreneurship Society president Jaime Young’s talk on pitching, the students were ready to give their pitches to esteemed judges Ralph Wunsch of Metrodeal, Dexter Qua of Synermaxx, Yancha, and Paul Gadi of

When all the teams finished pitching, five finalists were selected to pitch one more time, this time in front of everyone, to determine who the winners would be. After another grueling hour, Micro Mafia from St. Paul College Pasig, Team Apex from Xavier School and Pisay Palaka from Philippine Science High School emerged victorious, garnering first, second and third place, respectively.

Champion team Micro Mafia received a cash prize of P10,000 from WeDid Ventures, an Informatics scholarship worth P50,000, mentoring and acceleration sessions from IdeaSpace and free working space from Their winning product was POLLitika, an app that helps the youth learn more about politics.

Team Apex, with their product The Philippine App, and Pisay Palaka, with their product Genus Stylish RFID Security, received P25,000 and P15,000 worth of Informatics scholarships, respectively, and free co-working space from

After a successful event and positive feedback from all the participants, the YouthHack Manila and WeDid Ventures team plans to hold more workshops in the future and make YouthHack Manila an annual event.


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TAGS: David Ongchoco, hackathon, Lifestyle, Purple Cow, technopreneurship, Tom Gotuaco, YouthHack Manila 2014
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