MANILA, SEPTEMBER 19, 2006 (STAR) TXT IN D CITY By Patrick R. Garcia, BIDSHOT WIRELESS SERVICES - By the time this story comes out in my column, the TechnoNegosyo fair conceptualized by the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship (PCE) would have just concluded. Nevertheless, I feel such a close affinity toward the goals of such a program that I am compelled to write about it. You see both our companies – Bidshot Wireless Services and Chikka.com – were born out of the same realities that TechnoNegosyo wanted to present to the general public. The expo was primarily aimed at presenting the opportunities and possibilities that technology has to offer to upgrade existing businesses or launch new business models in the midst of a new and globalize economy. It gathered the technopreneurship community, composed of existing and aspiring entrepreneurs, to reveal that entrepreneurship in science and technology is not all that unattainable. It asserted that Filipinos can do it, having succeeded locally and globally, and that many technology ideas abound that represent opportunities for commercialization into viable business. This was the very same mindset we possessed years back when we started our companies and it continued to be a motivating force that delivered us through the many challenges that arose along the way.
It was late 1999 when my partners Dennis, Sandy and I decided to start up a technology business. There was buzz being created by talk of a killer application that would take the form of a "mobile instant messenger" and from other segments a mobile-commerce service called a "mobile-enabled auctions platform." Everyone was betting that goliaths like ICQ, Yahoo and eBay would be the first to create and launch them. Not us though. We believed we could build both, offer them to the global market and hopefully make some money from them. We were young entrepreneurs bursting with energy, ideas and confidence just ready to battle whatever challenges would come our way. A great bunch of characteristics to possess when starting up, but we soon discovered that our biggest challenge was seed capital or funding that would have to subsidize us through the years of capital-extensive incubation and product development. Our initial capital came in the form of our very own life savings and some investments made by our families in exchange for equity in the company. We managed our burn rate by squeezing into a cramp office, sharing two phone lines with 15 other people and even working without salaries for three years. In 2001, both products were finally up and running, but the gush of revenue we expected was more like trickles at best. Funds were drying up and we needed a gap solution while our two core products were going through a gestation period. Fortunately, we were nimble enough to accept the predicament and adjust our business model accordingly in order to survive. We decided then to expand our scope and further grow by leveraging off our investment in technology and our product development expertise to launch other mobile messaging solutions, value-added services and content that enjoyed traction with mobile users, who, in turn, derived a high utility and entertainment value from the various services. The revenue started to furiously flow after a year, but not after having to survive a couple of near-death experiences in between. Such experiences served only to make us more prudent, mature and even stronger in our conviction.
Today we have operations in 10 countries, are connected to 30 telecoms operators, enjoy a strategic partnership with Google, obtained triple ISO certifications successfully and hold the distinction of being the first mobile applications developer in the world to become a CMMI Maturity Level 5 organization, thus placing us in the same class as NASA and Nokia. We have come a long way, indeed, and we thank our world-class, all-Filipino team for their perseverance and focus. Like any businesses, there will be lots of hurdles to your successes, but you just have to continue to aggressively press forward and think out of the box in order to succeed. The TechnoNegosyo fair was both inspirational and informative for all attendees. For more information, visit www.gonegosyo.org.
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Patrick R. Garcia is the managing director of Bidshot Wireless Services. For comments or suggestions, e-mail email@example.com.
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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