Sandbox of K-drama ‘Start-Up’ turns into reality with grant for innovative Filipino businesses

June 25, 2021 - 8:41 PM
From left to right: Timmy de Jesus of Payruler, JT Solis of Mayani, and Angela Chen of Eskwelabs (The Dream Project Ph/Twitter, JT Solis/Linkedin,Eskwelabs)

Last year, the hit Korean drama “Start-Up” brought people to the world of start-up companies and business-minded individuals through Sandbox, South Korea’s fictional Silicon Valley.

Human Investment x Impact Grant for Entrepreneurship and Empowerment (HIIGENE) turned this fictional world into a reality for three local start-ups, who were granted P500,000 each company free of equity and a three-month mentorship program in an awarding ceremony last Thursday.

After a rigorous selection process it named the following as winners of the acceleration program:

  • Eskwelabs – An education technology start-up
  • Mayani – An agri-technology platform
  • Payruler – A human resource management system, emerged as winners of the acceleration program.

“Usually for start-ups pitching for investments and applying for grants imply creating another feature, deeper technology, or a groundbreaking business model that will result in bigger revenue,” Timmy De Jesus, co-founder and COO of Payruler said.

“But HIIGINE is the only grant that I know that flips this rule. The focus is really to invest in people-related initiatives,” she added.

Likewise, JT Solis, co-founder of Mayani, sees this grant as an opportunity to augment their people-first programs.

“As an agri-tech start-up, human beings are really at the core of our business. At the end of the day, the very stakeholder upon which our business model is built on small farmers,” Solis noted.

For Eskwelabs’ co-founder and CEO Angela Chen, she recognized the changing demand for skills in the industry as new technology continues to emerge, which widens the opportunity gap for people.

Tiengco’s education platform tries “to anchor what [they] deliver in critical thinking skills [and] cannot be replaced by machines. Things that are at the core like what humans are about.”

HIIGENE, organized by hygiene company Sanitary Care Products Asia and Asian Institute of Management-Dado Banatao Incubator, is an accelerator program that aims to highlight and celebrate the philosophy of people management in creating and sustaining a Filipino enterprise.