Stepping up from the warm shores of Boracay, Philippines, last year, Geeks On A Beach (GOBA) 2 saw the gathering of over 300 geeks and mentors on the private beaches of Cebu’s Mövenpick Hotel last weekend. A series of international talks, networking sessions and parties flowed over the two sunny days in an action-packed agenda; and with the event ending on a high note, the takeaways are out to prove that the journey is only just beginning for all.
Two pre-events were held to tease the full excitement of GOAB 2, starting with IdeaSpace’s “Investors Roundtable” seating a full group of both international and regional investors for discussions hosted by the main GOAB team; IdeaSpace Foundation’s Earl Valencia; Nest Capital’s Martin Pascual; 500 Startups’ Khailee Ng; and IMJ Investment Partners’ Koichi Saito. This lead into Kickstart’s “Raid the Fridge” welcome cocktail reception, which allowed the primary group of geeks to gather around for sunset introductions and party amidst strobe lights into nightfall.
Tina Amper, the founder and president of the organising duo TechTalks.ph, kicked off the first official day with a brief recap and her personal objectives for the Filipino community of startups; and her sentiments were echoed by the speakers who took the stage immediately after. IdeaSpace defined the changes over the years for the state of startups, sharing that the current GDP (gross domestic product) of the Philippines is equivalent to six of the largest companies in Silicon Valley itself; and Minette Navarrete from Kickstart Ventures followed it up by describing the nation’s startup ecosystem.
The rest of the day saw three panel discussions with familiar monikers such as Tech in Asia’s Gwen Regina Tan hosting the “Global vs. Asian Startups” discussion with e27′s Mohan Belani (Singapore), Fashion Technology Accelerator’s Richard Min (South Korea), and World Startup Report’s Bowei Gai; followed by the investor’s round of “Driving Economic Growth with Startup Investments” with Khailee directing opinions from Monk’s Hill Ventures’ Kuo-Yi Lim, Infocomm Investments’ Pang Heng Soon, and Hatchd Digital’s Manny Ayala.
Dave McClure gave an open FAQ session midway, sharing numerous witty insights into the scene since his venture with 500 Startups, and rousing the energy in the room by declaring, “What makes the Valley a place where startups succeed? The belief that they can. Have confidence… You can build things in weeks or months that would have taken weeks before. So get f*cking started.” Lunch was quickly wrapped up for the “Philippine Startups and the Road Ahead” panel with Ava.ph‘s Oliver Segovia and other homegrown players, but the highlights of the afternoon really belonged to the “Failcon” session with the duo from Payroll Hero and Kalibrr as they shared the real struggles and challenges startups have to go through in order to keep going on.
“Failure is lonely. Fail hard, fail fast, but don’t fail too often… It is often a question of either ‘I am afraid to fail’ or ‘I am afraid I don’t have what it takes’,” concluded Paul Rivera. The other sessions that ran into dinner included the last panel discussion about “Technology Stack for Startups”, and “Policy Environment that Grows Our Startup Ecosystem” with folks from ProudCloud, DOST-ICTO, and USAID-STRIDE.
The second day opened with females ruling the energy, as Digital Filipino’s Janette Toral hosted an exclusive Women in Tech breakfast at the neighbouring BE Resorts Mactan, and Rappler.com’s Maria Ressa shared her technological take on “The Future of Media Today”. These were followed by another three rounds of panel discussions, which saw topics from initial founding to the fun of bitcoins discussed, debated and ultimately, assimilated by the community. In particular, the dare to use bitcoins stirred a significant reception with Coins.ph’s Ron Hose stating, “I don’t think Bitcoin is money — it is a global movement encouraging financial inclusion.”
— Eric (@ericzoo) August 22, 2014
Breakout sessions were also introduced consecutively at different corners of Mövenpick Hotel, where mini-panel discussions were held between participants and key industrial names. From the inspiring take on the “Filipino Founder’s Journey to Silicon Valley” by Lifebit’s Eric Su to playing Quickfire-games.com with Sharan Balani to finding out who exactly were the “Rockstars in Open Source Development” with Rico Sta Cruz, it was a time for geeks to really get down with each other to embrace the surge of the national market movement — be it in front of the stage or a flying beach drone.
More than a conference and bigger than any party, GOAB embodies the native plucky front that drives entrepreneurs and fuels ventures beyond borders. The interaction between participants, observers, startups, investors, and speakers (just to name a few of the collection) only seemed to further heighten with the inherent instinct from the hosts upon the immeasurable beach foundation. We will definitely be keeping watching out for them as Dave McClure aptly phrased his last takeaway, “What is missing from Filipino startups? Nothing.”
Were you at Geeks On A Beach 2? If you missed it this year, keep checking this space out for future updates on other fun geeky events!