Startups Unplugged. Wow.

In a lot of ways, it was like launching a startup.

The concept (sorta-kinda-like group speed dating) had never been done before and it was either going to be AMAZING or a complete, fiery DISASTER. No in-between.

We thought it was a great way of creating better impact with a larger crowd than the usual conference/panel format. It was like holding a candle to a moth. We had to do it.

It now fell on the capable shoulders of Matt Lapid to execute.

So how did it go?

People coming in
People coming in
Prayer, The non-keynote, and instructions

At around 230, we started with a prayer, a sorta keynote (I felt totally unworthy doing a keynote, so I instead just went with some reminders), and then I painstakingly went through with the instructions – which were crucial.

First bell – transition, 5 minutes.

Second bell – settle down, 1 minute

Third bell  – start, 20 minutes

Five rounds of this.

The first bell sounded and people began going around with their maps (which people were also using as checklists).

Screen Shot 2013-03-06 at 10.25.40 PM

Second bell sounded. People were settled in their chosen areas.

Third bell sounded. No need – people were starting!

And there it was – energy!

I walked around the designated areas. People were nodding heads. Entrepreneurs were passionate.

Odell "I could've gone on for more rounds!" Ramirez of Looloo
Odell “I could’ve gone on for more rounds!” Ramirez of Looloo
Luis Buenaventura of
Luis Buenaventura of
I managed to sneak in one of  Maoi's sessions - she's brilliant! (plus, i think she can do stand-up comedy)
I managed to sneak in one of Maoi’s sessions – she’s brilliant! (plus, i think she can do stand-up comedy)
anna meloto-wilk
Multi-awarded Anna Meloto-Wilk explains her journey with Human Nature

Soon, the second and the third rounds were commencing. I started to allow myself to smile while walking around – we had managed to pull of a unique, amazing event!

It was evident how much people were LEARNING from the format and these marvelous entrepreneurs.

By the fifth round, the entrepreneurs were visibly tired, but incredibly, still just as passionate. It was amazing to see them give so much. EVERY entrepreneur wanted to make each of their answers (even if some of the questions repeated) as unique and as special for the person in front of her asking.

Some immediate reactions from Twitter:

Drei Alquiros ‏Fun and learning a lot here in @juangreatleap ‘s #Startupsunplugged

paula nierras Reaffirming, inspiring, and goosebumps-inducing afternoon c/o@JuanGreatLeap. Thanks and congratulations! #startupsunplugged

Zar Castro  Had a blast. Learned a lot. Thanks @JuanGreatLeap!

Jairuz A ‏ Thanks to @JuanGreatLeap @PeterCauton for organizing a very successful #startupsunplugged event today… See you on the next event!

Renelyn Tan ‏ Amazing event by @juangreatleap this afternoon. Thanks for all the inspiring entrepreneurs who shared their experience.

Yas Coles ‏ Great way to spend a Saturday afternoon: meet startup superstars to get going. Looking forward to more @JuanGreatLeap

Kazumi Shiroma ‏ “Be shameless with failure, be critical when you want to help.” -Reese Fernandez-Ruiz | Well spent Saturday afternoon with@JuanGreatLeap 🙂

Maria Rona Beltran  @JuanGreatLeap learned a lot of building an #entrepreneur attitude and startup stuff last saturday!


For those who attended, let me repeat the most important thing: I hope you not only learned from the experience, but I sincerely pray that you USE whatever motivation and/or information you were able to garner.


Our major sponsors:

Ayala Foundation: Thank you so much to Michi and her team for the beautiful venue, all the logistical help, and introducing us to some of the entreps!

Kickstart: To Minette and her team – for all the help and support! If you have a startup and you need funding, you have GOT to talk to Minette and her team.

Co.lab: Especially Chesa for helping us design the whole event, and for lending us Danella, who agreed to celebrate part of her birthday weekend as one of our awesome 20 entreps!

Velprint: For all your printing needs, be sure to check out the awesome, high quality work which Velprint can provide.

Thank you so much to our minor sponsors as well:

Gonuts Donuts for the awesome pastries!

Starbucks for the perfect cup of coffee (and water) you served (and boy, did it go splendidly with the doughnuts!)

Rocket Concepts for producing ALL the marketing/event collateral we used.

Human Nature for the awesome giveaways!

Stream Engine Studios for the great video introduction of our 20 entreps!

More pics! (for even more pics, check out the facebook page)

justin garrido talks about
justin garrido talks about
Reese Fernandez-Ruiz of Rags2riches
Reese Fernandez-Ruiz of Rags2riches


Gian Javelona of Orange Apps
Gian Javelona of Orange Apps
The ayala-TBI hallway
Group Shot! So proud of these 20 entreps!
Group Shot! So proud of these 20 entreps!
I dated the guest usher (shown here) after the event.
I dated the guest usher (shown here) after the event.

20 More Tickets Released and Venue Clarifications for Startups Unplugged

Event Poster (Facebook)Three quick things:

1) The event is fully booked again, but we’re releasing about 20 tickets because of people who called to say they can’t make it (thank you so much for the thoughtfulness guys!)

Eventbrite - Juan Great Leap's Startups Unplugged: Get Personal with 20 Startup Founders

2) VENUE: there was some confusion because at some point, the Eventbrite Googlemap was pointing to some place else.

The event will be at the Ayala-TBI office, at the UP-AYALA Technohub along Commonwealth in Diliman, QC. The venue is right beside Figaro where all the restaurants are. You can look at the map here. 

3) Try to be there at 130pm. We are expecting a sizeable crowd, so please try to be at the venue at 130 so we can start asap.

I’m pumped and excited for tomorrow!


I had a grand time chatting up a storm with Franky and Jay at theBobberycast last night!

With a Battlestar Galactica backdrop, we talked about Juan Great Leap, the role of the academe in the startup ecosystem, how to get more students interested in startups,  the startup Bottleneck, the sudden boom of the Philippine startup scene, how funding can help the 30-something would-be-entrepreneur, my Chikka experience, and so much other stuff.

You can view the video here. 

JGL@THEBOBBERY Tonight at 6!

Hey, if you aren’t too busy later at 6pm, do tune in at where I’ll be having a LIVECAST with the always-awesome host of thebobbery, Franky Branc. Of course, we’ll talk up a storm about startups and entrepreneurship.

If you haven’t checked it out, do take a gander at  – it’s a great site where you can learn a lot and be updated on the Philippine tech startup scene.


Employing The Mach 3 Strategy

Yep, this baby's 15 years old
Yep, this baby’s 15 years old

I was shaving my head this morning in the shower with my trusty Mach 3. I thought the blades needed changing. I made a mental note to myself to buy a fresh pack of blades – the woefully overpriced ones at the grocery counter.

I had been buying these blades for FIFTEEN years already – I had been paying Gillette a small fortune.

Funny, because I had never wanted these high-end blades in the first place – I won this Mach 3 way back in the 1998 Christmas party in my first corporate job.

Once I got the Mach 3, somehow I just made a habit of buying the blades.

I represent recurring revenue for Gillette. They must love me.

If your startup idea can operate with a recurring, “evergreen” business model, SERIOUSLY look into trying to adopt it.

I remember lucking into this business model when we started STORM in 2005. We wanted to sell a flexible benefits system to the market. We were looking at possible business models out there. A popular one was simply selling the software. We ask the client for a huge sum of money, in return, we would develop a customized solution for them and support it for 2-3 years. We loved the idea because it gave us immediate, usable cash.

Of course, no company would be insane enough to give a startup a huge sum of money – its just too much risk. So instead, we opted for a monthly “software as service” fee. With a lower barrier, we were soon able to land our first few clients.

Then, aside from the technology monthly lease,we built even more benefits services around it – also paid per month. If your company wanted, we could use our system to service your employees directly – less hassle for you.

It became a platform.

This “evergreen” strategy has a whole lot of advantages, namely:

1) Less dependence on day-to-day sales

Do you know how nerve-wracking it is for a startup founder to sell products day after day so he could pay the bills?

In this scenario, you just need to sell to a consumer ONCE. Then, it boils down to delivery. If you take care of your business, you can expect this consumer to consume repeatedly. The caveat? Your delivery team or your product has to be kickass.

2) “Forecastability”

(Is there really such a word?)

When we landed clients in STORM, we would know EXACTLY what the monthly revenue would be. 60K a month for this client. 84K for this client. Month after month after month.

This revenue pattern made planning so much easier for us as we grew. Can we afford to hire another employee? Will we have enough to pay 13th month?  We would know definitive answers to these questions. This makes a whale of a difference versus businesses which essentially, makes guesses future sales figures.

The whole challenge of startups lies in the uncertainty of it all. Any item which adds even a smudgeon of forecastability goes a long way.

3) You are forced to be always on your heels

Our clients would pay us every month – with the usual contract provisions that if they are not satisfied with the service, we would get docked on the monthly. Guess what effect this had on our operations?

We were forced to look at the way we did things and ALWAYS improve on them. We would put supreme importance on customer servicing. We would make sure bugs would get stamped out ASAP.

Or else we wouldn’t get paid next month.

That’s tremendous motivation to always deliver what the client expects and more.

4) Smaller bites > One big bite

As I mentioned earlier, its MUCH EASIER to ask a client to pay several bite-sized payments than one big, one-time purchase. This is especially true if you’re a startup. So don’t be afraid to lower your pricing significantly – you’re after the the longterm payoff.

Another advantage with smaller bites? You create a habit. This is extremely strategic.

Does your current business model employ elements of the Mach 3 strategy? If it doesn’t, these advantages are more than enough reason to seriously consider an overhaul.

Are you setting up a consulting firm? Perhaps you could come up with a related monthly service you can offer to outsource on a monthly basis.

Putting up a local bakeshop? Perhaps you can arrange to deliver your freshly baked pan de sal every morning to nearby homes at a significantly cheaper rate.

Tech firm? Perhaps you could build a platform  on which you can deliver repeat products/services on.

Design studio? Perhaps you can find clients in industries who need to have things designed on a consistent basis (not the usual one-time website creation for say, startups). Lower your prices and go for long term contracts with monthly or weekly deliverables/payments. Just off the top of my head, you can try publishing (online or print), HR (monthly newsletters to employees), and maybe events.

Who knows, with the right model, you can develop a customer like me – a lifetime consumer. (well, fifteen years and counting)

smooth sheen like could only be accomplished by a Mach 3!
smooth sheen like this could only be accomplished by a Mach 3!

Only 100 Seats Left For STARTUPS UNPLUGGED, Register NOW!

Event Poster (Facebook)

100 Seats Remaining

With eight days left till the March 2 event, only around 1oo seats remain. From experience, these seats tend to get gobbled up fast a few days before the actual event – so we advice that you click on the button below NOW and reserve your slot! Eventbrite - Juan Great Leap's Startups Unplugged: Get Personal with 20 Startup Founders

Don’t Flake! 

Also, for those who already have reserved their slots, please don’t flake! We’ve exerted all effort to make this a free event for all those who want to attend, so if you think you already know you cannot make it on the 2nd for some reason, please just reach out and tell us so we can give your slot to someone who can make it! (email us at or

Prepare Your Questions! 

For those going, please don’t forget to prepare your questions! This event is all about sharing experiences in a very comfortable setting – so please take maximum advantage by knowing beforehand WHO to approach and WHAT exactly to ask!

Can’t wait for March 2!

Eventbrite - Juan Great Leap's Startups Unplugged: Get Personal with 20 Startup Founders

Open Coffee Fun!

Last Saturday was just an awesome experience.

It never fails – get a room full of entrepreneurial people together to talk about startups and the room just erupts with energy.

In the last open coffee, the discussion veered towards mostly finding co-founders and some the more philosophical aspects of doing a startup.

This one was really all about 2 things 1) ideas and 2) helping one another.

“What do you guys think of this idea?”

“I think that will/won’t work because…”

“I know someone who can help you with…”

“Let’s talk later I think I can help you with…”

I thought it was just awesome.

In fact, one of the attendees wanted to do a study on how this burgeoning startup culture is the antithesis of the Filipino crab mentality we are so often accused of.

Thank you so much Bo’s Coffee, for hosting us! The food and coffee were great! (I didn’t know Bo’s had such great breakfast food! As in!)

JGL OPEN COFFEE PRINCIPLES (very much evolving)

1) We are all peers. There is no one higher or lower.

2) We will help each other succeed. There is enough room for everyone. It is never a zero-sum game.

3) Newcomers are very much welcome!

Be sure to join the next one, coming in a month!

open coffee 7
Our gracious hosts!
open coffee
JGL February Open Coffee

open coffee1 open coffee2 open coffee3 open coffee5 open coffee6

Juan Great Leap Presents: Startups Unplugged – Get Personal With 20 Awesome Startup Founders!

On March 2, we’re having a MAMMOTH Juan Great Leap event!

We’ve invited a who’s who of 20 young startup movers and shakers across a variety of industries. Our objective? We want you to be able to learn from them in a very personal and unique way. I can best describe it as “Group Speed Dating.”

Those questions YOU’VE always wanted to ask? The stories YOU want to hear? The problems and solutions that’s relevant for YOU?

Well, simply put, you can just go around and ASK THEM yourselves.

This will be on March 2, Saturday (yep, we heard all those requests not to do it on a weeknight), at the AYALA TBI Office at the UP-Ayala Technohub in Diliman.

(This will be awesome. And you just HAVE to go)

300 FREE seats, so grab ’em at the link below. Now.

Eventbrite - Juan Great Leap's Startups Unplugged: Get Personal with 20 Startup Founders

Check out the very gracious entrepreneurs who have already agreed to contribute and help out:

David Cruz

Industry: Technical (Hardware)

Blackfort Electronic Surveillance Systems Corporation; Mistral Global Gaming; Neugent Technologies; One-Touch Communications

Joey Gurango

Industry: Technical (Software)

Gurango Software Corporation

Nix Nolledo

Industry: IT (E-commerce)

Havoc Digital; Xurpas, Fluxion

Mark Ruiz

Industry: Microfinance

Microventures Inc. (Hapinoy), Rags 2 Riches Inc.

Noreen Bautista

Industry: Retail (Fashion)

EcoIngenuity (Jacinto & Lirio)

Justin Garrido

Industry: Social

Danella Yaptinchay

Industry: Business Services, Publishing

Co-lab; Homegrown Media Inc. (

Estelle Osorio

Industry: Consulting

BizWhiz Business and Training Consultancy

Karen Yao

Industry: Consulting

Congruent Partnerships 

Raffy Taruc

Industry: Retail (Beverages)

Katipunan Craft Ales

Mike Go

Industry: Retail (Apparel)

Bagong Payatas Community Ventures Inc. (TRESE)

Luis Buenaventura   

Industry: Technical (E-commerce), HACK2HATCH

Gian Javelona 

Industry: Technical (Application Development)

Orange Apps

Tembong Yambao  

Industry: Retail

Apollo, Urban Chef

Maoi Arroyo 

Industry: Biotech

Hybridgm Consulting

Odell Ramirez

Industry: Finance, Tech

Babypips, Lulu

Reese Fernandez

Industry: Retail


Anna Meloto-Wilk

Industry: Natural Personal Care

          Human Nature


Event Poster

Join the JGL OPEN COFFEE This Saturday!


Hey guys!

This year we’ll be starting things with a bang with Open Coffee this Saturday! It shall be held at the Bo’s Coffee branch at Bonifacio High Street.

Waitaminute! What is Open Coffee?

We were calling this the monthly “Juan Great Meet” for a while, but we thought of rebranding it for two reasons: a) if you’ve been a longtime blog follower, you know coffee and “coffee talks” hold great significance for us, and b) we were sort of getting tired of the “Juan Great ____” play.

So what happens in Open Coffee?

Each person is given two minutes each to ask a question or share an idea to the whole group. The whole group then responds appropriately. All this over coffee 🙂

The discussion goes where you want it to go. We’ve had two of these babies already, and they can get quite scintillating!

Who goes to Open Coffee? 

Around 30-40 people usually come, and its typically a very good mix (around 50%-50%) of both current entrepreneurs and those who want to take the leap. Varied ages. Varied backgrounds.

You want to take the leap and need to get support/get advice/find partners?


Are you a current entrepreneur who wants to get new ideas or support from peers? Or perhaps help other entreps and would-be entreps?


Is there a fee?

Of course not! This is FREE of course, our semi-requirement is that you just try to buy at least a drink to support our very gracious venue sponsor.

Special thanks to the good people at Bo’s Coffee, especially owner Steve Benitez for agreeing to host us!

I hope you guys can go! Do click the button below so you can register! 50 slots available. Grab ’em now!

Eventbrite - JGL Open Coffee


Last November's Open Coffee
Last November’s Open Coffee

Entrepreneurs Anonymous


Alcoholics Anonymous, or “AA” for short, has been around for almost 100 years now, and has helped millions of people across the globe become sober, its sheer longevity attesting to its effectiveness.

Of course, as we’ve seen in countless movies, they are famous for their meetings.

We can all easily picture that group in that circle.

Hi I’m ________, and I’m an alcoholic.

AA has since inspired hundreds of other similar organizations, with each organization addressing other chronic problems, sufferers, and addictions – from anger management, cancer patients, gambling, and so on.

It’s simple, really. I won’t belabor the point – the support group works. 

So why not a support group for people for would-be leapers?

You know, I know quite a number of people already who are always “almost there,” but can’t get over the hump for one reason or another. I know there are a lot of you – a lot of you – out there.


It would be a HUGE benefit if you guys get together!

In a recent interview with startup legend Brad Feld, he mentions how it was so critical for him, career-wise, to “finally get to meet his peers,” when he first started.

So ask yourself, who do you surround yourself with? Do they share your passion? Do they support you? Are there people you can share your desire with, your struggles?

A wise person once told me, the reason why a zillion detox visits don’t work for people like Lyndsay Lohan is that after treatment, they choose to surround themselves again by the same people.

I never ever thought I'd put THIS picture anywhere in this blog
I never ever thought I’d put THIS picture anywhere in this blog

If you are always surrounded by the same people – people who choose to fly low, negative people, uber “realists” who tell you it can’t be done, those who are happy just trudging along until each Friday – then a change of scenery can do you wonders. 

You know what could happen if you just surround yourselves with like-minded people?


For example, in our JGL community a couple of months ago, a few like-minded people found themselves talking about a similar passion – sports. Soon, they began meeting in coffee shops. (of course) The question was, why not a sports-startup?

A few months after? This. 

There are a number of startup groups and events already forming in the country.

Don’t be shy. Tempt serendipity. Join one.

If you’re interested in what we’re doing here in JGL, then there are two ways you can participate:

a) JGL OPEN COFFEE: we have meetup of leapers and would be leapers which occurs every month. We called it Juan Great Meet before, but I think in line of our coffee theme, a rebranding would be perfect. We’re having the next one on the morning of February 9. No frills, no powerpoint, no agenda. Just entreps and would-be entreps (about 50-50) talking over coffee about startup topics of choice. (last time delved heavily on finding founders and funding)

b) JGL STARTUP SATURDAYS: I meet with 1-2 entrepreneurs/would-be entrepreneurs on the Saturdays we don’t have another event. This is a chance for you to tell me about your story and your idea in detail. (I love these talks)

Of course, both events are free of charge. And no, there’s nothing being sold but the idea of pursuing your own dream.

Don’t think. Just go. It just might be what you need.

Know anyone who would want or need to go to any of the events above? Who would resonate with this post? Be a blessing and share!