Is it a Start-up? A Social Enterprise? Or an NGO?

Just so we don’t get confused, here are a few handy definitions I picked up on the internet that I think are fitting 🙂


A company that is in the first stage of its operations. These companies are often initially bank rolled by their entrepreneurial founders as they attempt to capitalize on developing a product or service for which they believe there is a demand. Due to limited revenue or high costs, most of these small scale operations are not sustainable in the long term without additional funding from venture capitalists.
– from Investopedia

A startup is a human institution designed to deliver a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty.

In every case, the organization is dedicated to uncovering a new source of value for customers, and cares about the actual impact of its work on those customers.

 Many startups don’t innovate at all in the product dimension, but use other kinds of innovation: repurposing an existing technology for a new use, devising a new business model that unlocks value that was previously hidden, or even simply bringing a product or service to a new location or set of customers previously underserved. In all of these cases, innovation is at the heart of the company’s success… The real question is: “what is the degree of innovation that this business proposes to accomplish?”

Startups are designed for the situations that cannot be modeled, are not clear-cut, and where the risk is not necessarily large – it’s just not yet known.

Startups are designed to confront situations of extreme uncertainty. To open up a new business that is an exact clone of an existing business, all the way down to the business model, pricing, target customer, and specific product may, under many circumstances, be an attractive economic investment. But it is not a startup, because its success depends only on decent execution – so much so that this success can be modeled with high accuracy.

– from Startup Lessons Learned

A startup is a temporary organization working toward a business model that is scalable, repeatable and profitable. The startup lifecycle begins with a business model based on ideas and guesses, since there are no customers and very little customer knowledge.

Different kinds of Startups: a) Small Business Entrepreneurship, b) Scalable Startup, c) “Buyable” Startup, d) Internal Startup, and e) Social Entrepreneurship.

– from Top MBA Connect (see link for the definitions of the kinds)


Social enterprises are revenue-generating businesses with a twist. Whether operated by a non-profit organization or by a for-profit company, a social enterprise has two goals: to achieve social, cultural, community economic or environmental outcomes; and, to earn revenue. On the surface, many social enterprises look, feel, and even operate like traditional businesses. But looking more deeply, one discovers the defining characteristics of the social enterprise: mission is at the centre of business, with income generation playing an important supporting role.

An equally noble goal of social enterprise (aside from generating revenues to pursue more of a non-profit’s mission) is the involvement of the marginalized, thus creating capacity and self-sufficiency for individuals, and impacting their communities and lessening reliance on the social safety net.

– from BC Centre for Social Enterprise‘s site

Social enterprises can be defined as “organisations with an explicit aim to benefit the community, initiated by a group of citizens and in which the material interest of capital investors is subject to limits. They place a high value on their independence and on economic risk-taking related to ongoing socio-economic activity.

– from The Emergence of Social Enterprise


The World Bank defines NGOs as “private organizations that pursue activities to relieve suffering, promote the interests of the poor, protect the environment, provide basic social services, or undertake community development” (Operational Directive 14.70).  In wider usage, the term NGO can be applied to any non-profit organization which is independent from government.  NGOs are typically value-based organizations which depend, in whole or in part, on charitable donations and voluntary service.  Although the NGO sector has become increasingly professional over the last two decades, principles of altruism and voluntarism remain key defining characteristics.

– from Duke University Libraries

A non-governmental organization (NGO) is an organization that is not part of a government and was not founded by states. NGOs are therefore typically independent of governments. Although the definition can technically include for-profit corporations, the term is generally restricted to social, cultural, legal, and environmental advocacy groups having goals that are primarily noncommercial. NGOs are usually non-profit organizations that gain at least a portion of their funding from private sources. Current usage of the term is generally associated with the United Nations and authentic NGOs are those that are so designated by the UN.

– fron

The Start-Up Experience

They always say, write about what you know. And what I know is what it’s like to work in a start-up.

I’ve been with OnMedia since we were OnMedia Creatives and I was the only girl in a 5-man team. And I’m still with them now – now that we’re OnMedia Pro (the production house) and OnMedia Plus (the botique advertising agency). In the almost-two-years that I’ve been working here I’ve acted as a producer, writer, director, production assistant, accounts manager, assistant director, camera operator, creatives, and (quite often) a stand-in 🙂

For those of you who may be wondering what it’s like to work in a start-up, here are a few things that I hope will help in imagining what it would be like and what you’d have to do:

  • Work with them. In a start-up, you’re not working for the company, you’re working with them. Because of the small size of the team, everyday work is highly collaborative and the people around you will expect you to be on board with your creativity, intelligence, and drive. Similarly, since the group is so small, everything you do affects everyone else. If you don’t do your job well someone will have to do it for you or worse – it affects the entire project. Do your job and do more. Readiness to take on different roles is a big thing.
  • Self-awareness is key. One of the things I love about being part of a start-up is that you get to help define what the company is. Who you are as a company and what you do specifically will probably change with time and more experience (as it did with us) but nevertheless, it’s still important to flesh these things out and go back to it every so often. Knowing what you’re working towards affects how you work 🙂
  • Discipline. Take responsibility for yourself. Yes, you will still have a boss but most likely your boss will have more important things to do at this stage than know where you are and tell you what to do. So lessen the load on his back. Discipline yourself. Regardless if the start-up you’re working for has regular hours or not, do your best to work regular hours and be there even when you don’t have anything to do. From my personal experience, the progress of a start-up is something you have to work on everyday – even the small tasks translate to improvement. Anticipate the things that need to be done and do them well.
  • Be a sponge. Because you’ll have many roles to fill and because you’ll be moving at a fast pace, you have to learn well and you have to learn quick.  A mistake is something to bounce off from quickly and something to remember. The things you learn and the way you use them help the company greatly so always be on the lookout.
  • Pat your boss on the back. I always remember something my boss, Saz, told me once. He said that the thing he misses most about working for a regular company is having a boss to evaluate his work. Yes they had the guts and the intelligence to create their own business, but that doesn’t mean our bosses are all confidence, or that they’re perfect for that matter. If you think there’s a better way for your boss to go about his tasks, tell him. If you think he’s doing a good job, tell him. It’ll go a long way.

So, that’s my very own start-up experience. I’ve learned a lot and I’m still learning.

If you’re yearning to create something and you’re comfortable with risk and change, I’d say go for a start-up – the ownership alone is extremely worth it 🙂

Christmas isn’t over…

… because I still haven’t written about my trip to Pampanga for the Giant Lantern Festival with Culture Shock PH 🙂

One weekend in December (the 15th to be exact), I visited Pampanga for Ligligan Parol – the province’s annual giant lantern festival. Guido Sarreal, one of the people behind both Trail Adventours and Culture Shock PH, invited me to join the tour group so that I could make a video for them.

I liked the idea behind Culture Shock PH ever since I first heard about it from Guido. It’s a tour & travel company that designs trips specifically to show off the Philippines’ diverse culture and heritage – be it food, festivals, architecture, or people. And I’ve always loved the logo! So yeah, why not?

Here are some screencaps from the videos I took, a visual version of our itinerary:

At Atching Lillian’s home. She’s one of the most well-loved cooks to come from Pampanga, and for good reason. She taught us how to make San Nicolas cookies a.k.a the cookies that our ancestors from Spanish times ate.

We visited two churches, the San Guillermo Church and the Betis Church. Both of them were visit-worthy in their own way but I enjoyed the San Guillermo Church more 🙂 Living evidence of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption. And they have a beautiful, half-sunken mausoleum at the back.

Betis Crafts Inc. – where world-class furniture is made. Literally, world-class. Their furniture is exported all over the world. Sad part is, no one knows it comes from Pampanga.

Ate a frog AND a cricket. WHAT UP. At Everybody’s Cafe, the Home of Authentic Kapampangan Cuisine. Everyone’s right. Frog does taste like chicken.

One of the participants of the Giant Lantern Festival. The lanterns are about 20 feet high :O And each of them lights up manually through rotors. How, who knows? It’s obvious though that it’s a craft that the people from Pampanga work to take care of.

Interesting stories, beautiful things to see, food I thought I’d never eat. It was definitely a good trip and I’d go out with Culture Shock PH again if I could.

If you’re even slightly interested in Philippine culture or you want to try something new, check them out 🙂 A bonus is that, good tourism means the world to the locals. Just through being curious, you’re honoring their life’s craft, their passion, and their way of life. You’re encouraging them to keep on working at it, and to stay where they are rather than migrate to the city. Guido put it as, affirming their dignity. Nice, right?

A trip that takes me out of my comfort zone and encourages local culture to thrive? Sign me up.

P.S. For a better blog on the trip, check out Ivan Cultura’s blog, one of the people I was with on the tour group.