GO goes GOAB - Tricia's take

25 August 2015

Deciding to come to this conference was definitely one of the right choices we (Hugo and I) made for Grow Organics. As we are in the process of birthing this website, we feel we need all the guidance and help we can get from those who already made it out there in the virtual world. In brief, GOAB or the Geeks On A Beach is a two-day conference geared for the tech-savvy, IT-literate and the smartest Design and Business folks who descend in Boracay for the perfect half and half gathering. Totally serious, strictly informal..

Diving into the fray as a newbie and aspiring start-up sure was an eye - opener! Topics ranged from business funding and entrepreneurship, being founders and meeting mentors, the Philippines road map for startups and ultimately how to pitch and stand out amidst the white noise… There was a lot to take in, and I do feel it is up to the participant on what information to absorb, knowledge to save and trivia to discard. Personally, although this is the first time I have attended a Geek conference, I have attended some other conferences and summits. The technical vibe was of course different, but the collective excitement is probably still the same. People was what made this GOAB different, and definitely there was a mix lot of sought-after investors and mentors, eager founders, intense developers and other tech geeks. Infrastructure-wise, there were some hits and misses that makes me curious enough to learn as to how it was in previous ones and how it will be in future conferences.

During the individual Track sessions, we had to divide and conquer so we can cover most of the topics. There was a track discussing how to gain traction for your startup and about Investment 101. I was probably the only one having simplistic questions for the speakers as I did feel I had to start from scratch in order to understand the Startup way of thinking. I need to wrap my head around that still. I was also keen about the setup of the Philippines local ecosystem, which was tackled in Town Hall session where the government sector highlighted their actions. Having already a separate conventional business office, I was curious to know what steps are being instigated that is specific for startups. In DTI, for example. Or the registration in the BIR and Business permits. So it is fortunate that the DOST-ICT department released a Final Draft of their main document for the Philippine start-ups, a Primer if you may hopefully addressing basic items as well as the expansive issues. I do feel more people should be aware of this and so you can download the Philippine startups roadmap here. I also hope that the organizers will compile all the slides or presentation into a volume so participants can review other track sessions that they could not physically attend at the time.

What stood out for me as well, was my first-ever Lightning Pitch! A strange feeling I must say. We didn’t even reflect much on what to say, and so I ended up saying something very, very fast in under 1 minute! The panel’s feedback was also curious. We needed to focus on the Why of the pitch, expound on the problem. I suppose to appeal to the emotional/lifestyle nature of Grow Organics. A lesson should be learned there somewhere.. :-)

But in the end, we are very heartened to find out that other geeks were really interested in our idea. Most believed the concept can work and is something that is actually needed in the Philippines! Sure it will take some time to refine this, but Grow Organics and what we set out to do IS doable. This is indeed encouraging and daunting at the same time, knowing these comments are coming from people who probably know what they’re talking about.

We have concluded that there are a hundred thousand things that we need to work on for Grow Organics. Building up GO is not a Startup marathon, it’s more like an entrepreneurial Octathlon or something… It is apparent also that we need seed funding to proceed faster, as we are currently bootstrapping this ourselves. But our core principles of helping and supporting our local sustainable growers still stand true. We are doubly convinced that what we have started for organic gardeners, sustainable farmers and mindful consumers is very timely, that it can enable and fulfill others' needs and it just feels so darn relevant! We are indeed on the right track. But it does not mean we can sit back now and just let things flow. There is a ton of work to do and we are extemely excited to get on with it and get our hands dirty - literally!