Unicorn startup Xendit solidified its commitment to grow the Philippine startup industry by holding “XenConnect, an in-person networking event that aims to give locally based startups a platform to reach industry-leading venture capitalists (VC).
XenConnect brought together a total of 20 local and regional VC representatives and 35 startups that were meticulously pre-screened. In speed dating-like fashion, the hopefuls were given a set time to meet with their assigned VCs and make their pitch. The event closed with a casual networking session opened to the public to give all participants an opportunity to meet with like-minded people and explore ideas together.
“Xendit hopes to empower every startup’s journey to success. Staging this event for the first time in the Philippines allowed us to honor our startup roots, while paying it forward by connecting top-tier funding to the immense talent pool in the Philippines. The diversity of our participants and their collective passion to effect positive change inspire all of us at Xendit to keep growing and innovating as well,” said Yang Yang Zhang, chief innovation officer and group CEO for Philippines and Malaysia at Xendit.
The Philippines remains an attractive market for investors primarily for the potential of its young, well-educated, and tech-savvy population. According to the Philippine Venture Capital Report 2023, the funds raised by Philippine startups last year were at USD1.1 billion, the second year in a row that it reached the billionth mark.
“It is inspiring to witness the emergence of numerous new Filipino startups in the industry. This burgeoning opportunity has attracted significant interest from investors, with 20 venture capitalists in the same room during the XenConnect event, a scenario unimaginable just a few short years ago,” shared Jason Ramirez, an investment manager from Kickstart Ventures.
Meanwhile, Jun Wakabayashi from Taiwan-headquartered VC AppWorks said he enjoys talking to passionate founders who have given up a lot to chase a dream and chase a passion to build a version of the future they truly believe in.
“At the end of the day, I’m looking for a founder that is willing to do anything it takes to drive success and, of course, if they’re operating in a large market, that’ll also help. But at these early stages, the most important thing is that you have conviction, resolution, velocity, and speed,” Wakabayashi said.
He added that his approach to investments relies heavily on building a relationship with the founder, driven by a sense of trust that can only be built over a period of time. It takes multiple interactions and discussions on what is needed and how AppWorks can assist, before they get to the due diligence stage.
Other VCs that joined include Foxmont Capital Partners, Pulse 63 Healthcare Ventures, MAIN.ph, Openspace Ventures, IdeaSpace Investments, Accion Venture Lab, Wavemaker Partners, Insignia Ventures Partners, Gentree Fund, Kaya Founders, Gobi Partners and Gobi-Core Philippine Fund, Plug and Play Tech Center, and Patamar Capital.
Co-creating a better future
The startups that participated in XenConnect was a healthy mix of Filipino-founded ones and expat-run ventures.
MedsGo, for instance, was born out of the need of its Russian founder to get his hands on medicated eye drops. When he learned that it wasn’t a problem exclusively experienced by foreigners, he created a platform—a pharmacy marketplace aggregator—that aims to improve access to medicines, with a vision of eventually becoming the principal e-commerce provider of medical items and healthcare essentials in the country.
Filipino startup kard.ph, meanwhile, started by tech-ing up traditional wet markets (palengke) by enabling them to accept debit and credit card payments through a web-based application. The company targets businesses that do not normally have a website or point-of-sale terminal to make transacting more convenient for both the merchant and the customer.
Despite varying in backgrounds or the industry that they serve or plan to serve, these startups found common ground in their passion for co-creating a better future for the Philippines.
The XenConnect Philippine Edition had a successful run conducted virtually. Participants were given a forum to connect with regional VCs and conduct 1:1 online meetings. Due to overwhelming interest, it was extended to an in-person event held at the Kickstart Ventures office in Makati City.
Xendit is a global unicorn startup that partners with businesses of all sizes to facilitate payments, disburse payroll, run marketplaces, and more. Startup founders interested to participate in future Xendit events will find more information at its website and on LinkedIn, Facebook, X (Twitter), and Instagram.