Striking gold: What do start-ups get out of PVCIG?

Written by Lolita Villa

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Eireen Diokno-Bernardo is an online merchant who heads Dekada Arts Philippines, a firm trading in collectibles. She is als a consultant for PayPal Philippines, eBay, and a product endorser for Eon Visa Electron. She gives workshops on how to start or expand businesses online. “I launch my projects in PVCIG. Presenting at the meetings has harnessed my speaking skills. And now, I regularly have corporate speaking engagements and make money from that.” Two of the projects she presented caught the interest of business angels who immediately made their offer. “Getting an interested investor made me feel that I was interesting, that I was being trusted.”

Marjo Villarosa-Reyes teaches business at the Mapua Institute of Technology and runs EcoPlanet Enterprises (, a paper recycling and waste management service. She has been attending PVCIG meets since her college days entrep mag 02in Ateneo way back in 2000. As a student, members would ask her to do papers, logos, or profiles. Later she got interested franchisees for her previous company, and got her current business from another presentor this year. Now she is currently expanding operations to Luzon and to include other services. “When I started attending, there were a lot of grassroots projects: fisheries, mining, lumber, coconut production, tuna, lambanog, etc.,” she recalls. “At least half of the attendees were foreign nationals with businesses in the Philippines. Then in mid-2000, many of the attendees were in Information Technology. I think now, the attendees are again presenting grassroots businesses and small companies for expansion.”

Send me an angel right now: What presenters need to know

Carlo Florendo is a tech guy/ jazz pianist/entrepreneur who advocates the use of opensource, enterprise software through his start-up, Alpha Opensource ( “I’m both an entrepreneur and investor. I do my own stuff but also look for opportunities to put my money into.” One deal he got happened informally when he met a guy who was selling power supplies at the forum. Florendo sent the products to Japan and sold them to his own clients. “I would have not met him had I not seen him give his presentation.” Florendo is attracted to business ideas related to technology. When looking at a presentation, he “looks for the potential of the cashflows, if it makes sense, if it’s realistic.”

Master the elevator pitch. In 4.5 minutes, present the product, service, market, and PNL figures (profit and loss) for the next 2-3 years. Say what you need: financial support, partnerships, expansion assistance, consulting assistance or whatever, and what you intend to give back in return.

Practice. Practice in front of a mirror and then go to the PVCIG meets and practice there. But as you do that, you will stumble on something, an investor.

Modify. If you don’t get results, change your presentation, then come back. Practice telling jokes. When you know where to put the punchline, you can do the same for your business’ bottomline.

Drop it. Bernardo says: “If you’ve presented, modified, and presented the same thing again four times, stop it! You should know when to start changing direction.”

Don’t expect too much. Guests change every month, and one can never be sure that the right person to invest is present. Someone may be interested in only one part of the company, or may want to modify the business model. People seldom get exactly what they want, and no one will just hand presentors money without the attendant screening.

Take the risk, but know the risk. Reyes says: “Some people have presented business ideas which I have thought would have been impossible or difficult or crazy, but would eventually make a lot of money. Some have presented really great ideas which have flopped because the right people were not there or they didn't have the right skills to make it work.”

Make the abstract concrete. Bernardo says you must be clear whether your business is at the idea stage or already an existing business. Some investors are hesitant to invest in abstract ideas, because they have no proof that it can work. So get started and give it some structure in any form, such as a website. “Otherwise the investor will get bored talking about something he cannot see.”

Be discriminating. You will be asked for a business plan, bulk equity shares, or request their involvement in management. If you feel they are asking too much, you can always say no. Florendo adds that nothing can stop anyone from copying your business idea, but your passion is your own, and you may be the best person to put your idea into action. Or you can have your idea patented at the intellectual property office.

Put your money where your mouth is. Confidence is key - if people see you believe in the business, then they can believe in it too. But sometimes proof of that confidence means sharing the pot. Says Florendo, “I look whether at that person is willing to put in his share of the capital investment. If you really believe in your business, you will find a way to loan from the bank and put in your numbers.”












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