Fostering an Inclusive Philippine Startup Community
February 19, 2019
No mention of the Philippines… Again! Will we ever be able to catch up in our lifetime?
We need a culture change. Help each other up. I’ve heard horror stories of gatekeepers in the startup community, even here in this group. I have yet to experience one myself (thank goodness?) since I’ve just been lurking for the longest time. But I’ll be the first one to admit that it’s the one thing that keeps me from interacting with the startup community.
But that has to stop. I mean, why is there even a gate? What is it protecting? Reality check: we don’t have an innovative culture yet. At least not yet at par with our ASEAN neighbors.
When the day comes when your average jeepney driver is coming up with ways to disrupt his industry, then by all means, keep the gates if you want to.
Until then, offer insights. Yes, tell would-be founders if you think their idea/approach won’t probably work, but more importantly, tell them WHY and offer alternatives. Encourage problem solving, laud efforts, share knowledge, offer failure insights, facilitate founder matchmaking, put egos aside.
Ok, I am not exactly a stranger to gatekeepers, albeit from other industries. I’ve been an electrical engineer for almost a decade for a large you-know-who power distributor, and I have since transitioned into a full-time web development career. I have seen my fair share of gatekeeping.
When I took on the responsibility of being community manager of freeCodeCamp.Manila, a study group that helps people pursue a web development career for FREE, I vowed not to let that toxic culture seep in into our group. Central to our Facebook group discussions and meetups is positivity, knowledge sharing, mentoring, encouragement, and industry insights. No matter what your background is, as long as you’re willing to put in the work, the FCC community will try to help you.
And to the best of my knowledge, it has fostered good results. We have produced a couple dozen tech career shifters already, myself included. And we hope to produce more. I personally know two former engineering professionals who used to work as OFWs who are now working full-time at the comforts of their home, reunited with their families, as web developers! Imagine that.
To answer my own question… I believe it can be done! We can catch up with our neighbors. But we need to foster an inclusive and positive culture.
So I implore everyone here, let’s move the Philippine startup community forward! Let’s look beyond our own egos and greed, and let’s all try to solve the world’s problems through inclusive, collaborative innovation!
P.S. If you are a non-tech founder who’s having a hard time finding tech people, I suggest trying out learning to code yourself. The sad reality is tech talent here in the PH is lacking (I’ve conducted talent recruitment for the companies I worked for), and those who are qualified to build startup apps are most likely not entrepreneurial (goes back to the lack of innovative culture). If you’re interested in learning, you may start with freecodecamp.org (disclaimer: the site is not ours), and join our study group freeCodeCamp.Manila.
In fact, there have been aspiring founders who have attended some of our meetups, one of which is now a co-founder in a startup we’re hoping to build. He’s trying to learn how to code too, as you read this.
P.P.S. If you’re a tech founder and want to know more about the business side of things, hit me with a PM. I know someone who’s into business consulting, and maybe I could hook you guys up. But I apologize in advance if I fail to see your message. I’m in “hustle” mode. Lol. I’ll try to reply to the best of my capacity.