If you’re considering starting a business, you don’t need to be a millionaire. If you have read Chris Guillebeau’s $100 Startup (more or less ₱5,500), you can reinvent how you make money.
Today, many successful startups in the Philippines had their fair share of humble beginnings. And yet they are making an impact, not just in their respective industries but generally in the community. In short, if you want to build a business, you must have a bigger vision — more than just gaining profits.
In this article, get inspired by these fantastic Filipino startups and how they impact their respective industries because they love what they do and are committed to solving problems. May these success stories remind you that there are limitless possibilities when you’re committed to becoming a catalyst for change.
Image credit: Edukasyon.PH
Edukasyon.ph is the Philippines’ largest online youth platform. It empowers millions of students aged 13 to 23 by providing choice, advice, and convenience for higher education and career decisions.
Founder Henry Motte-Munoz, a Filipino-French civic leader, noticed in 2015 that the lack of information sources contributed to uninformed choices and high youth unemployment.
The one-stop-shop education platform offers a school search engine with 2,000+ universities, 80,000+ courses, and 4,000+ scholarships.
Additionally, it provides comprehensive guidance and services for career development, society modules, and personal growth to meet the needs of every learner.
Image credit: Growsari
GrowSari digitizes sari-sari stores in the Philippines with tools for pricing, inventory management, and working capital loans. Founded in 2016 by Rollan, Choudhury, Kongara, and Ogonowski, the company now serves over 150,000 stores nationwide.
Services include bill payments, remittances, and micro-financing. Backed by investors like Tencent and KKR, GrowSari has raised $110 million.
Growsari operates in over 20 provinces and plans to expand to 300,000 more stores, enhance the supplier marketplace, and introduce new financial products to the unbanked.
Image credit: Kumu
Kumu is a Filipino-made social entertainment app that connects Filipinos around the world. It was launched in 2018 by Roland Ros and Rexy Dorado, and it has since become the largest social entertainment app in the Philippines, with over 10 million app downloads across the globe.
The name “Kumu” is derived from the Filipino greeting “kumusta,” which means “how are you?” The app allows users to live stream, share their passions, stories, and talents, and earn money by doing so.
Kumu has significantly impacted the Philippine community by providing a platform for Filipinos to connect with each other and showcase their talents. Kumu is also committed to raising Filipino culture and the voices of Filipino content creators, whether based in the Philippines or overseas.
With over US$100m in funding to date, Kumu’s recent Series C led by General Atlantic marks a groundbreaking milestone in the Philippines.
4. The Lost Bread
Image credit: The Lost Bread
The Lost Bread is a dessert brand in the Philippines that specializes in French toast, milkshakes, and other sweet treats. The founders, Emil Ongchuan and Patty Marabut opened their first branch in StrEAT Food Park in 2015.
The company has successfully expanded its business from a food park to multiple locations, including a branch in Megamall. They have also made their brand available for franchising.
Now The Lost Bread is known for its fun and interactive desserts, and they have a menu that includes a variety of milkshakes, French toast, and other desserts.
Image credit: PayMongo
PayMongo is a payment gateway founded by Francis Plaza, Luis Sia, Jaime Hing III, and Edwin Lacierda. It enables businesses to accept payments via credit cards, e-wallets, and over-the-counter transactions.
The company simplifies digital payments, enabling Filipino businesses to join the digital economy. It targets small- and medium-sized companies and micro businesses, which comprise 99.5% of firms in the Philippines.
Now PayMongo helps these businesses accept credit card payments, improving cash flow and order fulfillment speed. The reason why even small businesses with web stores today can now accept GCash, GrabPay, credit cards, and debit cards.
PayMongo received its initial funding from Y Combinator, a start-up accelerator, and is licensed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas as a payment service provider.
Image credit: PDAX
PDAX, the Philippine Digital Asset Exchange, is a local crypto exchange that empowers Filipinos to trade cryptocurrencies with dedicated local support. Founded in 2018, PDAX aims to break barriers to blockchain and crypto, giving every Filipino the opportunity to invest in these digital currencies.
PDAX has achieved several milestones since its inception. As of January 2023, it has reported a new milestone of 800,000 users and has achieved growth despite the challenges faced by the blockchain and crypto space in 2022.
In August 2021, PDAX raised $12.5 million from a funding round, which will be used to expand its services and operations. In February 2022, it raised more than $50 million to develop regulated plug-and-play solutions for fintech, digital banking apps, and metaverse applications.
PDAX has also been active in promoting crypto adoption and financial inclusion in the Philippines. It has launched PDAX Donate, which empowers non-profit organizations to receive cryptocurrency donations through a customized and secure donation website.
Image credit: Prosperna
Prosperna, a Filipino startup founded in 2018 by Dennis Velasco, brings a one-stop shop for MSMEs to set up online stores.
With 15 years of Silicon Valley executive leadership experience, Velasco aims to empower 100k Philippine MSMEs with simple and affordable eCommerce software. Having raised $555k in seed funding and generating $1.7 million in 2021 revenue, Prosperna is on a mission.
Prosperna’s success is due to the rising popularity of online buying and selling in the Philippines. In 2020, the Philippines had the highest average daily internet usage per person, clocking a staggering 12 hours. This rapid increase is driving behavioral change at lightning speed.
Prosperna has been a game-changer for SMEs in the Philippines, USA, Latin America, Guam, and Australia. With just a click, you can toggle between different payment providers on the platform.
Options include cash on delivery, bank transfer, store pickup, and popular services like PayMongo, Stripe (accepts credit and debit cards), PayPal, DragonPay, GCash, GrabPay, Coins.PH, 7-Eleven CLiQQ, and M-Lhuiller.
Starting a small business can be for anyone, as long as you have the heart to strive for the best. It all boils down to motivation, passion, and perseverance. These qualities will help you reach your goals and, in the long term, establish a successful business.
Now, over to you — whether you have ₱5,000 or ₱1 million on hand, what kind of business would you like to have? Share your thoughts in the comments below.