6 Crucial Lessons From The Rise Of THE Startup Nation, Part 2 of 3

(This is the second of a two-part post regarding the tremendous lessons we can apply from closely looking at how the preeminent Startup Nation developed. Part 1 can be found here.)

4. We Need To Have More Filipino Argonauts


In Greek mythology, the Argonauts  were sailors and adventurers who travelled with Jason in search of the Golden Fleece.

In her book The New Argonauts, AnnaLee Saxenian writes, “The New Argonauts are foreign-born, technically skilled entrepreneurs who travel back and forth between Silicon Valley and their home countries.”

This “argonaut” concept of people coming back and forth from centers of global innovation, like Silicon Valley is a key component of Israel’s development. In Startup Nation, the authors describe several Israeli “argonauts” who would gain knowledge and status in their international companies, but have always intended to return. And when they do, they would become catalysts for Israel’s technological and entrepreneurial development. The book says Israel owes much of its success in this “argonaut” model, not only from diaspora in the Valley, but from quite a number of other countries as well.

I think Winston Damarillo is the clearest example of this here in our country. He resides in the US West Coast, but you’d regularly see him in the startup circuit here in the Philippines. In doing so, he transfers a ton of technology and insight back to the country. I think this is crucial. We need more Winstons.

I wrote a bit about our own diaspora in this post, and I’d like to make the same call again here.

To all our Filipino brothers and sisters around the world who have found success in their respective fields and are in positions of influence and knowledge – come back. I think its high time to seriously think about doing something for the country.

One very very common thread I felt while reading Startup Nation was the extreme sense of nationalism and giving back that these Israelis felt. Even while studying abroad, even while working in their foreign firms and achieving much success – they always knew they would come back and build something.  (not all of them of course, but a significant number)’

I think this sense of nationalistic pride is found in so many of our countrymen abroad. Perhaps you have been biding your time. Perhaps you have been waiting for the right time.

I think now is the right time.

For the first time in my life, I now see a surge of foreigners going here. (hello, Matt) They are in startup events. They are looking for employment. They are looking to build here, and some have already built great startups here. (including multi-awarded Payroll Hero). It’s easy to see why.

The tables have turned. Asia is now the global growth area. The Philippines itself is in a state of incredible growth. It’s not only the “nationalism” carrot I’m dangling here, but amazingly, even the “practical” carrot.

You want to take advantage of this?

Come back.

Build something. At least look into it.

PS: I’m writing this series  a tad longer than expected. I might need to extend this to a series of 3-4 posts, instead of the original 2-part plan.

PSS: A special request of mine? Please share this, especially to Filipino diaspora you know around the globe. What’s to lose?

Peter Cauton

Entrepreneur, writer, speaker, startup advocate, HR guy. Husband, father of 6, teacher, unabashed follower of Christ.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. The time is definitely ripe for Filipino Argonauts to build the army of changemakers in the Philippines. As Tito Tony always says, “Build and they will come.” (Field of Dreams, 1989)

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