The second Juan Great Meet was held in Briggy last Saturday, and we had a blast!
Glenn Santos of Memokitchen started things off with his “news roundtable” portion. Glenn talked about the different events happening in the local startup scene, including news from accelerators like Launchgarage and Ideaspace, startup sites like Represent.ph and homegrown.ph, and other interesting events like Wordcamp.
Then, we held the main activity for the session – the Open Floor. This is where each person can get a 90-second chance to pitch or ask the group anything startup-related.
The result was another thought-provoking session highlighted by passionate, insightful discussions on: founder dynamics, hiring and firing, thoughts on 5-6 startup pitches, collaboration ideas, startup war stories, and many more.
It was another awesome Meet! Thanks to everyone who went (especially those who came from the provinces)! Thanks also to Ivanna Aguiling of The Briggy (an interesting startup which is basically a platform for food kiosks) for the great food (yummy taho ice cream!) and great place!
Seeya at the next Meet, happening in around a month!
Yesterday, I had the privilege of giving a talk at the AIESEC Leadership Convergence Summit.
The person who spoke before me was Gian Scottie Javelona and I found his story riveting.
The people at the conference were branding him a “19-year old CEO.” But I think this title sells him short.
Anyone can call herself CEO. Those who get enough votes in their college business simulation companies have that title. Those who inherit Dad’s business at 19 can call themselves CEO (to Dad’s Chairman of the Board).
Quick, tell me the last Filipino you know who created a product in his college years and turned it into a business?
At 19, I was busy going out with my friends, playing video games, and cramming for the next exam. This guy probably does all that as well. Oh, but he’s also creating mobile enterprise software and trying to grow his firm at the same time!
Gian isn’t just a CEO, he’s an entrepreneur.
At 19 years of age, he’s a wunderkind.
Let me tell you the best part of his story for me.
Gian’s company, Orange Apps, has created a customizable mobile portal for schools. It runs on the Android platform.
Gian had one problem when he was trying to develop the app….
He didn’t have an Android phone!
So what did he do? At first, he kept on borrowing a friend’s Android phone. Finding this too slow, he finished building a payroll system for a client, and then used the funds to buy himself an Android firm.
This, my friends, is the very essence of entrepreneurship.
His school, PUP, has since adopted his platform. Gian is now busy getting his product to other schools and expanding.
All while trying to fulfill school requirements for his impending graduation.
A few of my startup founder friends are deliberately choosing NOT to have a physical office.
Their logic is simple:
Smaller utility costs (electricity, water, rent)
No travel costs (gas AND cost of time lost to traffic)
No furniture costs
Mobile technology now allows for free video conference calls across the internet
Last weekend, we moved to our new office along Escriva Drive in Ortigas. It is the fifth office we are moving into. Our original office was in the living room of my condominium, where we used a friend’s second-hand restaurant furniture.
When I think about it, we could save a small fortune NOT having an office and going purely mobile. Here are reasons why we would probably never do this:
1) Actual Interaction Beats Mobile
I’m not talking about production here. There are actually some studies which say that production actually increases when people work from home. What I’m pertaining to is teamwork and a shared purpose.
There’s a reason why training companies (paid billions by companies around the world) do a lot of teambuilding through actual shared experiences. Have you seen any team building activity done online?
The best way camaraderie and teamwork are built? When you are working in the trenches together. When it’s the deadline in a few hours and the guy to your left and the girl on your right are downing Cobras with you and its crunch-time. It’s the pizza and drinks you share as you celebrate beating the deadline the next day. This reasons alone justifies the costs of running an actual office for me.
Hmmm. I can picture a company wiring you money to buy pizza, then you celebrating together with you on Skype – but you know what, I just think it wouldn’t be the same.
I was with a startup company before who chose to do it the mobile route. And I don’t know, there was just less energy and excitement with that route. That company has since closed down – there were a lot of other reasons why it did, but working on a purely mobile environment certainly did not help.
2) Working at Home is Tough
It’s funny. I know a ton of employees who want to work from home. But you know what, I know freelancers and founders who work from home who “want to take the next step” by working in an outside office. It’s not so surprising.
Have you ever tried working at home? Not only is your gaming console there, but there’s also your bed, your very comfortable couch, plus dozens of other distractions. There’s also perhaps your mom who would suddenly want you to buy eggs in the grocery, or maybe your 4-year old kid who needs your help in finishing a stage in Bad Piggies.
3) There’s Something Gratifying About Having a Home
I remember when Pao and I moved STORM from my condo to our first 20-square office space. We had just bought furniture and we were carrying it in. When we were placing the last table in its proper place, we looked at each other and couldn’t help but smile. It wasn’t verbalized, but it was clear – STORM had a home at last, and this was a moment to be remembered.
4) Having an Office Enables Recruitment
Or, more accurately, not having an office cripples recruitment.
After a few months on the job, our new hotshot programmer, Angela told me that she was thisclose to not doing the interview with our company at all. She said that she was standing in front of our door for a good 15 minutes, thinking whether she should ring the bell or not. After all, it was a RESIDENTIAL room.
Angela went on to design and build our first flexible benefits systems – the lifeblood of our firm. Had she not rung, things might have been very different for us.
I remember last year when Applabs (mobile development startup) CEO Ian Atienza was working feverishly on the details of their new office in Eastwood – where every brick went, what piece of furniture went where, how the conference room looked like, how the colors went together. After a few weeks I saw the office and it was amazing. In the next few months, I saw the rewards of what Ian was sweating over: some people were saying yes to his job offer just on the basis of what the office looked like.
Of course, ultimately, what matters would be the type of work and the fit. But you know, having a nice-looking home helps plenty. Unfairly or not, an office adds legitimacy.
Ultimately, of course it will boil down to whether your startup can safely afford the costs of having a home. But as soon as you can financially afford it, don’t hesitate – it’s easier to build with a foundation in place.
No matter how loud this blog becomes, 99% of people will still choose to go the usual route.
99% percent will still choose to go with the herd.
99% will still play it safe and choose the comfort of a twice-a-month salary.
What differentiates the 1% from the 99%?
What differentiates the 1% from the 99% is conviction.
I have seen this first hand with all the entrepreneurs and founders I’ve interacted with. They believe in their vision. More than that, they believe in themselves. It is an unshakeable, oftentimes illogical belief.
It is this conviction which allows them to take on the big hairy leap to go out on their own. But this isn’t what results in the 1% yet. Perhaps 10% of people will take this courageous leap.
But 9 out of these 10 people who will leap will give up the moment it becomes dicey, when they get punched in the mouth. Most successful entrepreneurs and startups have had colossal failures marking their timelines. Our hero Steve Jobs very publicly got fired from the company he founded. He could’ve retired with his millions, but instead he used the failure as fuel to mount the greatest comeback in business history.
Unlike with most people, failure doesn’t make any significant dents in the conviction of the 1% – it actually strengthens it. (Failure can create the proverbial “chip on the shoulder” – which some investors love)
I like how the other meaning of conviction ties into this discussion. The other meaning of conviction is “judgement rendered.”
In a sense, this is exactly what the entrepreneur exposes himself to – judgement.
I wrote before at how the leap in people is prevented not by the incapacity of the person to take on risk, but a lot of the time, its “what will other people think?”
“I will leave my 15-year banking career to put up a startup which creates mobile apps for the elderly? OMG! What will my family say? What will my peers say?”
An entrepreneur just leaps in and effectively says:
Hey world, this is me!
You want to be like the 1%?
That decision is the underrated element of the leap. Most people are wishy-washy with their decision, doing a “wait-and-see” versus an actual decision. (you who are guilty of this know what I mean) Or choosing to be in perpetual “data-gathering” mode. Stop talking about it and start doing it.
Can’t resign yet? Perfectly okay. Allot 2 hours a day working on your startup – plan and do. Too hard?
Then you’re in the 99%.
Let me end this post with lyrics from one of my favorite 90’s songs, Conviction of the Heart by Kenny Loggins. If you want to sing along or something, you can click here. (up to you if you want to sing on until the environmental part of the song 🙂
CONVICTION OF THE HEART, Kenny Loggins
Where are the dreams that we once had?
This is the time to bring them back.
What were the promises caught
On the tips of our tongues?
Do we forget or forgive?
There’s a whole other life waiting to be lived when…
One day we’re brave enough
To talk with conviction of the heart.
And down your streets I’ve walked alone,
As if my feet were not my own
Such is the path I chose,
Doors I have opened and closed
I’m so tired of living this life,
Fooling myself, believing we’re right when…
I’ve never given love
With any conviction of the heart.
(This is the second of a two-part post, the first of which could be found here.)
In 2004, I decided to try to live on my own. There is nothing wrong with living on your own – my mistake was that I allowed the situation to further isolate myself from my family and friends. This accentuated the fragmentation my life was already experiencing. The circles in my life were separated even more profoundly. Who I was in my condo, at home with my parents, with different sets of friends, at work, in graduate school – all were different people.
Leading this sort of life meant having virtually no rules for myself. I was willing to try anything or be anyone to fulfill the expectations of whatever group I was in.
Not knowing who I exactly was, I stood for nothing. And as a friend once said, if you stand for nothing, you will fall for everything.
So with bad decision after bad decision, I spiraled.
I had a good paying job, my own place, my own car, and whatever niceties I was able to afford. But I didn’t really know who I was, work was meaningless, I was doing things people who loved me would not approve of, and I felt really alone. Yes, a lot of people knew me from my different circles, but no one really knew me. In retrospect, I didn’t even think there was any reason to change. I thought that was how life really was.
Things started to change when I attended this retreat where I found God. I had attended dozens of retreats before, so I wasn’t expecting lasting change in this one, but this was different.
In a moment of spectacular clarity, I asked myself, if I truly believed in God, if I loved him – then what was I doing with myself? Why was I so intent on pleasing these other people? On doing “cool” stuff?
If I believed in God, and if I loved Him – then shouldn’t everything revolve around following Him? And if I believed that God created me for a specific reason, and He has the absolute best intentions for me, then shouldn’t I stop pretending to know what’s best for me and instead just listen? (something very challenging for my very independent self)
Oh, and is there any sense in stalling?
I then went on with my life with renewed vigor – I started discerning instead of deciding. Reclaiming my life was going to be difficult, but I had found my needed Anchor. In finding God, I had found myself. (And you know what, I think it’s the absolute quickest way to do so.) I suddenly knew who I was and very importantly, who I wasn’t.
One by one, my horcruxes disappeared. It wasn’t something instant or even something I was consciously aware of. It was a long process. But one day, I suddenly found myself thinking: hey, you know what – there’s little need for me to pretend anymore! Suddenly I realized, who I was at home was the same person I was with my friends. There was no tension felt when my worlds collided. I could do stuff like share my faith freely at work (or write about it in my entrepreneur-centric blog) or in meetings.
It was liberating. Wherever I was, I was me.
I realize that I also have to fight the tendency to create silos and fragments. I do my best to talk to my wife about everything, even with the powerful man-tendency to solve problems on my own. I just don’t want to create other universes which she isn’t part of the equation. (I think this is where a lot of problems begin) At the same time, I can freely share with my STORM partner Pao the things at home which might affect stuff at work. I share with people in my spiritual community how I am with everything. That’s a lot of sharing for someone who’s intrinsically very, very private, but holding myself accountable to people I love and respect helps a lot in ensuring I live one, integrated life.
Unbelievably, we have not seen the last of the floods brought about by the habagat two months ago.
In the middle of Laguna de Bay is an island called Talim. Due to unique conditions and continuous rain in the area, 1500 families are still affected by flooding. The local parish priest has been calling out for more help.
Our community, Living Hope, is organizing relief efforts for Talim and shall be distributing them on Oct. 20, 2012 (next Saturday). We have already collected funds for relief packs good for 200 families. Please help us collect more so that we may reach even more families.
There are several ways you can help:
1) You can sponsor a family pack for P400 each.
2) You can help us pack the goods on October 14 at 24 Amsterdam Street, Provident Village, Marikina.
3) You can help transport the goods to the Cardona Port on October 20.
4) Spread the word so more people can help!
If you do want to help, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org/09178277029 or Karla at 09178122597.
In grade school, I used to be deathly afraid when my parents would pick me up from school. For some reason I couldn’t understand, I was ashamed of them. I didn’t want my friends to see me with them.
One funny result of this was when people would call me at home (yup, we used the landline to chat then) and look for “Peter,” the people at home thought they were calling the wrong number. You see, at home I was called “Pitpol” or “Popo.”
I was deathly ashamed of these nicknames.
It sounds funny in retrospect, but perhaps the funnier thing is, it turns out I wasn’t the only one who was like this! Turns out a lot of people hide their “home” names, in an effort to separate family life from school life.
Perhaps its not that surprising. After all, weren’t we all trained and raised to separate the different “areas” in our lives?
Aren’t we so used to saying things like:
“how’s your love life?”
“trabaho lang yan”
“my spiritual life’s been dry”
The connotation is telling. A lot of us live our lives in silos and fragments.
So fast forward to 2005-2006, and upon analysis, my life consisted of these very defined circles:
You know what? Part of me actually liked this set-up. It’s additive. I could check stuff off. I could even mathematically deduce how happy I was in my life!
This month I’m 5/6 happy!
But I’d so hate it when my worlds collided.
When my wife went to a corporate function with me, or when my family would ask me how work was, or when the people in my different circles would meet in a party , I’d feel like my grade school self. There was this weird, uneasy feeling of something like “being discovered.”
The thing was, I DID have something to hide. When I think about it, I was a slightly different person in each world.
I think this is dangerous because:
1) The anonymity results in lack of accountability, which results in the temptation to be “someone else” in each circle. This lack of accountability can lead to awful choices.
2) Existential angst is created because the question, “who am I” suddenly is difficult to answer
3) There is an uneasiness, a heavy restlessness when the other parts of our life are not in conjunction
Is life truly meant to be lived in such fragmented fashion?
Do we really mean what we say when we say things like:
“I’m really happy. Work really is depressing and demotivating, but, you know, that’s just work! So I’m really happy.”
Okay, at the heels of the last meetup, the next Juan Great Meet is on October 27, 2012, from 1:30pm-4:30. There will be a P150 entrance fee for food and drinks. I’m excited to say that we’ll be holding the event on the premises of a cool, food retail startup, Briggy Hall. This is located at East Capitol Dr. Brgy. Kapitolyo, Pasig City. I’m excited to get to see the place!
To grab one of the 50 slots, quickly sign up here.
The agenda will be much like how we did things in the first meetup:
1) Startup News, Current Events, and Announcements
This includes announcing ALL startup-newsworthy events (like a new product launch, or a new incubator, etc) happening in the area, JGL updates (planning to have quick updates on the 3-4 startups founded here in the FB group), and the like. Around 10 mins.
2) Open Floor
This is the main gig! This is where people could present or ask questions to the group. This includes anything from questions about one another’s startup, announcing a need for co-founders, asking what the group thinks about an idea, etc. We did this in the first meetup and it was a blast – people learned a lot! There would be 2 minute limit per idea for the one asking the question/pitching the idea.
3) Informal Networking
Usual free for all, food, brainstorming, and pocketmeetings. There’s 50-slot limit because of the venue constraints and the event agenda (the open floor format doesn’t lend itself where to huge crowds).
Attending JGL events like is also now the ONLY way you could get an invite to the JGL Group FB community.
Seeya on the 27th! Do sign up fast.
Note: Let’s just semantically define things.
Juan Great Meet – this is the smaller “meetup”- style event where what we’re after is the sharing of ideas, insights, and opportunity.
JGL Conference – the bigger one we have (last one in Ayala Technohub attracted over 200 folks), centered more on en masse learning.
All events are geared towards both existing entreps and those who want to take the leap.