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Silicon Valley entrepreneur excited about PH startups

Silicon Valley entrepreneur Bowei Gai (right) with IdeaSpace president Earl Valencia.

In town recently was Silicon Valley entrepreneur Bowei Gai, in the course of a nine-month mission to document and connect the global startup community. He couldn’t have come at a better time: the Philippines had just received its first investment-grade rating from international debt watcher Fitch Ratings.

Gai acknowledged that he had never considered the Philippines an exciting investment area for startup companies, but with the Fitch rating, he said the Philippines deserved a second look.

The Philippines is one of 29 countries Gai was visiting for the World StartUp Report – a mission to collect, synthesize, and share information about startup ecosystems. Prior to founding the World StartUp Report, Gai had established a mobile business card transcription service called CardMunch which was later acquired by professional network LinkedIn.

During his visit, Gai dropped by the Makati headquarters of business incubator IdeaSpace Foundation and met up with its president Earl Valencia. IdeaSpace sponsored the recent World Startup Report meetup for the Philippine community at the Microsoft Philippines office in Makati.

IdeaSpace recently named 10 startups it would support through funding of up to P5 million each, six-month business incubation, mentorship, and linkages with investors in the Philippines, Silicon Valley, and other parts of the world. The foundation is backed by wireless services leader Smart Communications, Inc. and other companies under the PLDT Group, First Pacific Company Ltd., and Metro Pacific Investments Corp.

In 2011, Smart got Valencia, then based in Silicon Valley, to become its lead person in corporate development and innovation. He eventually became cofounder and president of IdeaSpace. Smart has also been partnering with international players like AngelHack to give Filipinos a link to the global arena.

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