The Carrier Pigeon Project

People setting up businesses because they want to make a living out of helping people. It’s a story we hear often – frequency doing nothing to diminish the fact that it’s inspiring.

Meet Jezze and Riz Jao, the brother and sister team behind The Carrier Pigeon Project (TCPP). They sell shoes and bags that are fashion-forward and socially-conscious, as I like to call it. Buy any of their bags or shoes and part of the money you’ve given goes to World Vision’s ABK3 LEAP project.

LEAP stands for Livelihoods, Education, Advocacy and Protection to Reduce Child Labor in Sugarcane Areas – the areas being  Batangas, Camarines Sur, Capiz, Iloilo, Cebu, Leyte, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, Bukidnon, Davao del Sur and North Cotabato.

A main goal of ABK3 LEAP is to lessen the occurrence of child labor. They do it through pushing youth employment services and education in the areas – a main reason why Jao siblings  picked the project.

And now, here’s where definitions blur for me, and in a good way. Most of the social enterprises I’ve encountered and met work with local communities, giving them livelihood and empowering them with skills. In TCPP’s case, they don’t work with the people they help and with very good reason 🙂 But even so, as Jezze says, the “mission… at the centre of business,” is to give kids a “fighting chance to work on their dreams” – and that’s no small thing.

Picture from the World Vision website

Like entrepreneurs do, they’re already thinking big.

Jezze and Riz want to at some point help public schools and orphanages. In the future, they’re even looking at enriching the lives of the children’s parents, to stop the cycle of poverty putting children to work.

But first, they’re looking at their product. Pity-buyers are not TCPP’s target market so they’re working hard to produce fashion that’s functional, durable, and of course, pretty 🙂

A picture of Jezze at the Good Morning Club show

Getting to know more about these two was refreshing because they’d only been at it since September 2013. Usually, the people I talk to have been working at their startups for a while already and have been part of the startup community for even longer. Most will say they had to learn everything. These two are still learning everything 🙂 They’ve called the process so far challenging, frustrating, fulfilling.

Carrier pigeons are birds that were used to send letters to and fro, way back in the day. That’s what  The Carrier Pigeon Project (TCPP) hopes to be and I’m definitely geting the message 🙂

If you’re working any kind of program or center for kids, contact them. There’s a very bright future ahead, after hard work.

Submit to the cute, buy local

Okay, so let’s admit it.

A lot of us girls (and some guys, too) have a weakness for the cute. Me, not so much but every now and then, colorful, pretty things end up winning me over 🙂

If you’re like me, cute is a guilty pleasure – and if we’re talking about guilty pleasures, well, we may as well get them for cheaper and we may as well help our fellow Filipinos out by buying local.

Here are some places where you can find cutesy things made by some pretty enterprising individuals:

1) Bunny Snarl – Handmade keychains and pouches by a girl named Guia. You can send her a message at prinklethepixiedust@gmail.com if you’re interested. Basing on her creations, if ever Guia and I meet, we’ll probably get along just fine – turtles, whales, and Adventure Time ♥

All images from the Bunny Snarl facebook page

2) Rubber Ducky Stamp Co. – In the age where you can reach someone practically by almost every online channel, written notes and reminders are a lovely novelty. And before there were stickers, there were stamps. These stamps are completely hand-carved and thoughtfully made. Here are instructions for ordering. If you wanna make designs of your own, I think they’re open to that too.

All pictures from their facebook page

3) PaperCanvas – Making a personalized notebook kind of seems simple, but for people like me who can’t draw or paint, it’s a dreaded task that’ll probably end up in something really weird. PaperCanvas makes notebooks just for you and your loved ones and you can be sure, no one else is gonna have the same thing.

All pictures from their facebook page

4) Punchdrunk Panda – Here’s some local art you can wear and use everyday. It’s definitely form, function, and Filipino all in one. Punchdrunk Panda designs are created by artists like Dan Matutina,  Diego Mapa, Kasey Albano, Kitkat Pecson, OJ Desuadido, and many many more. They have everything from bags, shoes, iPad cases, laptop sleeves, iPhone cases. Go to their site and go crazy! 🙂

Koi Waves

Splash

"Interests"

Interests

So there you go. Submitting to the cute doesn’t have to be expensive, and it can definitely do a lot of good for the Filipino startup.

You’re welcome for all that eye candy 🙂

2013: The year in startups

Farewell 2013, hello 2014 🙂

The Large World was born at the start of 2013 and it’s been such a gratifying experience for me. Oddly enough, I made this blog to help other people the best way I can, but it’s ended up benefiting me much more. I’ve come across so many inspiring people, got the opportunity to join activities I never would have known about, and gained a changed a perspective in what “work” should mean.

The year’s been kind of a roller coaster for me though and I admit this blog has been under some neglect. So here’s me resolving to myself and to you that I’m gonna do my best to kick this site back into life 🙂

To start it off, I thought it would be a good idea to look back at the year that was for startups and to hear it from the people working at it everyday. Here’s a few nuggets of insight from my friends who live and breathe startup.

Jonathan Conanan, Zeaple (On his most important learning this year) Different mindsets are needed at different points of growth in a business. When you start out in a business, you have to be hands-on. You do what you can do in order to reduce costs. When you start to grow, this thinking has to be replaced with a new one. You should learn to delegate and trust your team.

Rachel Davis, HomegrownI think we’ve seen the rise and success of many social enterprises. It seems that many of our entrepreneurs are realising that the Philippine market is more open to social enterprises and their products. We are really seeing startups want to give back and build communities… (On her most important learning this year) our market/business landscape is still transitioning in many ways, and startups need to learn how to adjust while the market does as well.

Danella Yujuico Yaptinchay, Homegrown: … on being a startup in general: there is no one else responsible for your business but you. So, even if you don’t understand numbers, don’t like sales or can’t figure out social media — you’ve got to do all of the above, somehow. It can mean trying to do them yourself or partnering with or hiring people (you trust) who will take charge of those areas so you guys can succeed… I actually believe that we have a fairly healthy startup scene in the Philippines. My concern is sustainability, which is why I work with both Full Suite and Homegrown.  We want these companies to survive beyond the idea, the hype, the excitement and the romance. We want to arm them with services, tools and knowledge so they can make the right decisions at the right times for the interest of their businesses. Of course, there’s also a community-building aspect. I hope to see more and more startup founders interact with each other and show support for what they’re all doing.

Ian Joseph Corpuz, Yapak ITG and The Spark Project(On what he thinks the startup/SME community needs to scale up in 2014) First is changes in government services. It is still difficult to setup a company in the Philippines. Registering is a huge pain and dealing with the BIR and some LGUs is punishing. A good thing is there are groups like Consulting and Business Services who are trying to address this from a different approach by providing their expertise to budding enterprises. 

Second is for the startup community to build a support network. There were a lot of events held this year, mostly focused on meet ups and hackathons. This was good since it is key for everyone in the community to know each other. I believe that the next step is to have a program that would mentor new startups so they could focus more on building their products.

Armand Sazon, OnMedia ProDumami sila (SMEs/Entreps) which means nawawala na konti konti yung psychological barriers of starting your own in our society – maybe it’s also because dumarami na rin yung resources at opportunities for millenials. (The SMEs and entrepreneurs are increasing which means bit by bit, the psychological barriers of starting your own in society are falling away – maybe it’s also because the resources and opportunities for millenials are growing.) …You need to invest in your own IT infrastructure moving forward, take advantage of existing technology and software, maybe even create your own. 

Paolo Narciso, Amplify.ph: (On the improvements he’s seen in the music production industry in 2013) I’ve noticed that for the smaller local productions who set up gigs and the like, they’ve mostly become very conscientious about shows starting on time – at least compared to the prods 5-8 years ago… (On where startups can go this year) My mind is always on digital and like I’ve said in the past: the minute you go digital, you go global. I believe that scaling up will happen by consciously considering how to market these services globally.

Hope this gives you something to think about and build on. Will add more to this post as more people chime in!

It’s January – we’ve got 12 months to create, innovate, aid, and inspire 🙂

The Internet will save us

One of the trade-offs of working my job is, I don’t get to blog as much 😐

I take this kinda seriously because I really do want to keep on writing about the people and groups that I’ve been covering so far. It’s frustrating when I learn about new startups and NGO’s, and I don’t get to write about them immediately. The upside though is, I’ve filed them for future use 🙂

Here are some tech start-ups that I’ve been keeping my eye on for a while and finally, I’m writing about them.

  • GrabTaxi – Here’s something I’m sure many people have been praying for. GrabTaxi is an app for booking taxis here in Metro Manila. Heaven sent, right? A smartphone + GrabTaxi means getting a cab in those dreaded middle-of-the-night, rainy moments is no longer as impossible as it used to be. All you have to do is input your Point A and Point B, and click “BOOK NOW.” GrabTaxi will assign the cab driver nearest to you from the ones that are available. Considering the app keeps track of your bookings (date and location), it’s a step up in securing yourself a safe ride home. GrabTaxi has around 16 partner fleets to date, and you can even get to know some of their drivers here 🙂 To be upfront though, there’s a P70 booking fee – something that I think we can forgive in our times of need. Here’s a more comprehensive review of the app, from Paige Occenola, who’s tried it out.

  • Tripid – Tripid is  a transportation service that makes the old school charm of school buses modern and, not to mention, useful. What it is, is a carpool that you can sign up for online. You can join Tripid either as a driver or a passenger. For a driver, the process is: Post a route – Accept passengers – Start your trip. For passengers, it’s: Look for a route – Choose a driver – Start your trip – End your trip and rate your driver. Across all these steps, you have full control. Drivers and passengers both have access to information about each other like profile details, mutual friends, and previous ratings. They also have a feature called “Community Call,” that makes sure your emergency contact is called in case anything happens – points for security! It’s an old system that’s worth another try, especially for people who are saving. I especially like the community, pay-it-forward vibe 🙂 Might just try this one of these days,  more so because parking is so expensive where I work!

  • Amplify.ph – Amplify.ph is something I knew about a little before they released their beta website because I knew one of the people behind it. It already sounds good as an idea, but when you see it for real, you realize how valuable it really is. Amplify.ph is a music website that features local and independent music. They’ve got loads of stuff on their site from a wide variety of genres: jazz, hiphop, acoustic, pop, rock, ballad, indie, and electronica. All music is ready for playing on the site, and they even have playlists of recommendations and whatnot 🙂 Also, did I mention that you can download the music for FREE? 😀 I too did a virtual double-take when I read this. All you have to do is sit through a video advertisement before your download starts, whose proceeds go to their partner artists. And Amplify.ph is doing more than that in helping out our artists. They’re making it easier for the music to reach the people, and more patronage means a thriving music industry. There are tons of bands and artists out there for us to discover and now, instead of waiting for word of mouth to start the buzz, just a few clicks will get you to the music that gets you going. I’m on it almost everyday now 🙂 It’s a must-visit.

Screengrab of Amplify.ph

They also have a calender of gigs and events on their site 🙂

New things to test out. If you happen to like them or have any points for improvement to suggest, drop them a line 🙂

Spark it now!

Aaaaand, they’re at it again!

The Spark Project, the first crowdfunding platform in the country, is asking you nicely if you’d like to help fund more projects for the soul 🙂

Way back in February, they launched 4 projects and suffice it to say, they’ve found that crowd funding works. Two of their projects, Paint Some Happy and Offbeat Pursuits, were funded completely and the other two garnered a decent amount of attention as well. For a site that’s introduced something completely new to a wide audience, it’s not bad at all 😀

From their site.

 

They’ve sparked a few other projects since then like Biyaheng Burda and First Day High, but the projects that truly needs your attention right now are new ones by Route +63 and Kawil Tours.

 

ROUTE +63

Route +63 wants to restore Tam-An village houses in Banaue, Ifugao.  The Tam-An village houses are the native houses foe the community and they’re special because they’re built without any nails or metal, a cultural technique passed on from generation to generation. Together with volunteers and locals, Route +63 will restore the houses in true badchang (bayanihan in Ifugao) fashion aiming to build a village. The Tam-An village will be a center for cultural and artistic exchange. For all reasons above, I’m in love with this project. Volunteer in July and/or fund!

 

KAWIL TOURS

Kawil Tours is the only startup tour group that brings you to Culion, the former leper colony in Palawan. When you travel with them, Kawil Tours sees it as profit for the whole community 🙂 E.g. the boatmen and the students of Loyola College of Culion benefit from the tours! To be a better bridge between tourists and locals, they need a boat. DONATE.

This is their page on the Spark Project website after just a day. They already raised around 28% of their crowdfunding goal in a little over 24 hours. Amazing!!! 

 

Hope you guys check both these projects out 🙂 Travel with them too! I know I’m planning to.

And, maybe you have a Spark Project of your own! Submitting a proposal is easy 🙂

Phindies: My Kind of Marketplace

For some reason, a majority of people label me as a “hipster.” I vehemently disagree because I think I’m too nerdy to be one. But okay, I do like certain things that somehow fit into the hipster stereotype – I’m not gonna lie. And I’m not gonna say I don’t like Phindies.com. It’s awesome.

Phindies is an online marketplace where you can find the unique. Everything featured on the site is “handmade, designed or produced by independent Filipino artists, designers and entrepreneurs.”

For them, step A is to sell cool products you won’t find anywhere else. Then, having given on-the-rise artists, designers and entrepreneurs a space to share their creations, step B is to encourage them to keep on doing what they’re doing. They call their merchants indie-preneurs and just like anyone else trying to start something, these indie-preneurs need help. Phindies understands that.

 

The products you see on their site (e.g. clothes, accessories, bags) – most of them are not mass-produced. If anything, these are all items you could probably find in a hole-in-the-wall shop, a random bazaar, or through a small site. But thanks to Phindies, these designers are able to tap into a bigger online audience and they can do it together.

really like going on the site, even if I haven’t had time to really browse or buy anything yet. It’s very colorful and easy on the eyes, which I guess comes with the fact that all the products are works of creativity. First on my list of things to purchase is a wallet from Pitaka 🙂

Picture from their Tumblr.

 

So far, the brands featured on their site are Bahia, Bandeaux by Callasandra, Happy Buttons, Hiyas Filipinas, Izzo, Juan District, Luntian Bags, Monstercloset, Pitaka, Sosi Bayongs, Tall Things, Teekals, and Trinkets MNL.

If you happen to have any products you want to see the light of day, I suggest you get in touch with them 🙂 I’m excited to see this site grow, and I’m sure they’d love to feature more brands.

After all, their message to people who visit on their site reads:

 Thank you so much for choosing to support the Filipino dreams. Shop & feel good about every purchase!

Four weeks with Rappler

I started working with Rappler on the 18th of March so technically, I’ve been with them for just four weeks. Gotta admit, I’m only beginning to love the job :))

I’m not sure if it was obvious to anyone, but the first couple of weeks were kiiinda rough for me. For sure, Rappler can also be classified as a startup. But it’s most definitely different from the startup I came from. From working with 11 people, I am now surrounded by at least 30 people everyday. I don’t think I’ve even met everyone on the team! And, of course, journalism work isn’t exactly the same as being paid to be creative.

But it’s not entirely unfamiliar. I’ve always thought of my work with OnMedia as creative problem-solving and problem-finding – both of which are informally in my job description as an Associate Producer. And as big as it may be, Rappler is still a start-up and the energy that kept me in OnMedia for so long is definitely there. Everyone is hungry, so to speak. We all want to create the best version of our site together and we want to do it because it’s what the readers deserve.

 

So yes, I am reaching the point where I’m beginning to enjoy myself and the nervousness is slowly fading away. Mostly it’s being replaced by learning. I can almost literally feel my brain stretching itself :)) I’ve had to expand my attention span and my ability to absorb information by a lot. And duh, I’m beginning to understand current events. Everyone I work with is extremely intelligent and just listening to how people talk in the newsroom sometimes – it’s pushing me towards appreciating news beyond the facts.

Here are some of the videos I’ve been part of producing in my four weeks so far 🙂 Click the pictures to watch!

 

Of course this is when my co-AP decides to go on a vacation to Bacolod :)) All in all, it was an excellent learning experience though. I’m very proud to have been part of this debate, the first to be held in an open space in these elections.

 

Extremely exciting talk, especially because I’m into startups 🙂 My favorite quote from the interview was from Bowei Gai, “You can’t replicate Silicon Valley… You have to do your own thing. You don’t have to be Silicon Valley to be great.” A must-read for enterpreneurs.

 

Google+ Hangout with Arland Macasieb, one of the Filipinos who ran this year’s Boston Marathon.

 

Behind the scenes of a roundtable discussion with Mohagher Iqbal, peace panel chair of the MILF, on peace. I’m slightly deaf so I couldn’t really understand much when it was going on. But transcribing it and listening to it in slow motion, you realize the man is eloquent.

 

Was quite happy with myself this day because it was my first time to suggest a guest and luckily, she was free 🙂 And more than that, extremely enlightening.

 

I’m a little shy to be giddy since everyone seems to be used to it but, live videos are a different kind of thrill. And along with all the urgency and the immediacy, there comes a very specific type of fulfilment, one that I’m only now getting acquainted with.

I’d love to do behind-the-scenes or how-we-did-it posts. Let’s see if I last long enough to do that! 😀

The Art of the Start

This week I had the pleasure of meeting Jen Horn of Muni PH.

I have to say, there’s a little out-of-body type sensation when you meet someone who has a lot of the same thoughts and ideas with you 🙂 The whole advocacy behind Muni PH is to build a  “community of Filipino cultural creatives sharing ideas, stories, tips, and events on mindful living for the self, community and the planet.”

If you’re wondering what a cultural creative is exactly, it’s probably you. By Muni  PH’s definition, cultural creatives “are individuals who value unconventional ideas, action, authenticity, community and positive change.” So yes, there are definitely many of us and it’s time we all got together. How else will we change the world? 🙂 The site is still in its baby stage but I have no doubt that it’s going to be a good growth year.

Jen and I talked about how we could possibly work together (possibilities I am very, very much excited about) and eventually, I got around to raving about Guy Kawasaki’s talk on start-ups and entrepreneurship, The Art of the Start.

As you build the foundations of you’re business, this is something you’re going to want to watch. It’ll help you work from a place of productivity, inspiration, and energy.

WATCH IT.

Here are some of the things that stuck with me:

  • Make meaning.
  • Work because you  want to improve the quality of life, because you want to right a wrong, and because you want to prevent the end of something good.
  • Make a mantra.
  • Don’t be afraid to polarize people.
  • Ask women about your business model, cause men will always want to kill the competition.
  • Niche yourself.
  • Ignore the irrelevant.
  • Hire people who are better than you.
  • Don’t ask people to do something you wouldn’t.
  • Don’t let the bozos get to you.
Anyway, again, go watch it 🙂 Seriously, even if entrepreneurship isn’t an interest to you, you’re going to love at least one thing he says. At the very least, you’ll love his George Bush joke. Haha!

Beanstalk Beta

When I started the list of social enterprises and start-ups on my blog, I was trying to answer my need for a directory of sorts – kind of like, classified ads. Apparently, I wasn’t the only taking the initiative 🙂

Last week I met up with Adriann Caldozo of Beanstalk. One of the first of its kind, Beanstalk is an online marketplace for local social enterprises. Much needed and very cool, right?

beanstalkwcloudslogotextedited3-1

Started just last year by a group of Ateneans as a project for school, Beanstalk now caters to 7 brands: Leyende, Karaw Artventures, Habi, EchoStore, Artwine, Denim Dimensione, and Konseptong Pinoy 🙂

The simple idea: they wanted to provide a space for social enterprises, that would be both a means for them to spread their products out to the world and a community.

They’re out to serve the people who are trying to make a living out of helping.

Vision: Beanstalk is a companion of Social Enterprises in reaching their full potential leading to a sustainable livelihood for the poor and the marginalized.

Mission: Beanstalk is an online marketplace where the socially responsible consumer and social enterprises can interact.

The people of Beanstalk are young – in this case, that’s more of a positive than a negative. They’re driven, they’re passionate, and they’re looking for you.

Yup, Beanstalk is looking for partners! If you want to be one of their social enterprise partners, contact them at beanstalkphilippines@gmail.com, or at 0920-676-3839.

It’s a good opportunity, I should think 🙂 The site is in its infancy and there’s much to be worked on, but the seed of the beanstalk is there, so to speak. (Corny, but I couldn’t help myself. Haha.)

Can’t wait to write about the brands they carry!

APEC SME SUMMIT: Breaking Barriers Through Innovation

Okay, super late notice but there’s going to be a conference for small-medium enterprises this Sunday! Registration is only until today.

The theme is Breaking Barriers Through Innovation. The summit is designed to encourage entrepreneurs to look at the way they do business in a new way – ultimately, to give Philippine business a step up on innovation and creativity.

Here are some more details from their site:

It’s going to be held at the Francisco Santiago Hall, BDO Corporate Center, in Makati, from 1:00-5:00pm.

If you’re free, it’s a great way to make your Sunday productive. Then write about it after, for those of us who can’t go! 🙂

If interested, you can see more details and download the application form here.