Ava Online Group was among the startups invited by Senator Paolo Benigno A. Aquino IV to the Senate last September 14 to bring fresh new insights and help thresh out the proposed Innovative Start-Up Bill, which seeks to empower startup companies and provide a robust environment for businesses.
Various industry players in the start-up scene like Hatchd Digital, Kickstart Ventures, 1000 Angels, UP Enterprise, and Launch Garage were also present during the consultation to iron out the bill, which seeks to create an innovation council and provide benefits and programs to strengthen, promote, and develop the Philippine startup ecosystem.
Among other enterprise chiefs, Oliver Segovia, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Ava Online Group, took note of the actual needs of entrepreneurs in building from the bottom to the top.
From his experience building several e-commerce brands, Oliver enumerated the struggles faced by startups like lack of training, high rental costs, and absence of financial support, citing how alleviating these problems will attract local and international investments.
Collectively, business leaders sought to amend provisions in the bill to include clauses that address those problems, citing how important incentives are for businesses, especially for startups.
“We can attract major investments [through the benefits we provide]… Although competition is imminent, we know that everywhere international players come in, there are lower prices for consumers, more jobs, and increased tax revenues,” Oliver says. “I think it is also worth noting the potential multiplier effect of providing tons of benefits while serving the best interest of the market.”
Meanwhile, Oliver also emphasized the need to clear up the definition of startups in the bill for the government to fully benefit up and coming innovative companies. He says determining which startup should be termed as “innovative” must be done by market experts rather than through certain requirements set by the government.
“I don’t think someone, from any agency, who is not exposed to market realities should be given the power to decide which start-up is innovative or not,” Oliver says. “The approach should be more targeted. […] For providing benefits to startups, I suggest that the criteria should be more relaxed and be market-driven.”
In the course of the consultation, Minette Navarrete, president of Kickstart Ventures, and Jojo Flores, founder of Launch Garage, likewise shared their wisdom on how startups begin, taking note of global players operating in the Philippines and why support shouldn’t be limited to local companies.
They agreed that heeding the history of bustling international startup hubs like the Silicon Valley is a must for the Philippines, especially if it seeks to promote success and nurture up and coming innovative businesses.
On the other hand, others in attendance were representatives of government departments and agencies like the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Communications and Technology, Department of Foreign Affairs, Securities and Exchange Commission, Philippine Economic Zone Authority and the Intellectual Property Office.