Filipino – Founded Startups: Agriculture Technology
Established Since: 2018
Founders: JoJo Gumino-Ocol & Jun Ocol
The reality is this: while the Philippines relies quite heavily on its agricultural sector, the ones fueling the industry suffer immense financial disadvantages – Philippine farmers and fisherfolk constitute 68% of the people living under the poverty line due to low earnings and increasing market costs. On a mission to solve such an issue is the Agrabah marketplace. This social enterprise startup empowers our farmers and fisherfolk by helping them find potential partners and foster reliable connections that facilitate transactions at a fair value.
Armed with over twenty years of experience from complementary backgrounds Jojo-Gumino Ocol and Jun Ocol co-founded Agrabah Marketplace. Jojo has over ten years of experience in human resources, business development, and corporate partnerships, while Jun also has a decade’s worth of experience in the agricultural value chain as a distributor. With such insider insight, they don’t only plan to help farmers and fisherfolk sustain a fruitful living; they too envision a future where they can yield predictive analytics that allows suppliers to know what to grow and when to grow based on market needs. Jojo and Jun share: “We’re energized by the innovation we’re leading, and every individual has an impact on that success. We love that we can make a difference to the community, to our team, to our customers, and to an entire industry. Agrabah is on a mission to make agriculture great again.”
Expediting product transactions since March, Agrabah Marketplace has helped supply over 78 metric tons of agricultural produce to their institutional clients via their B2B marketplace. In the process, they’ve benefitted the lives of over a thousand coastal farmers across the Bicol region. With the future bright, they plan to expand nationwide as well as launch their B2C marketplace in the upcoming months so consumers can enjoy fresh produce sourced directly from local farmers.
For Jun and Jojo, there is no time better than the present to invest in Filipino startups – they attest: “The Philippine startup ecosystem is slowly, but steadily growing. New businesses need more support both public and private not only in terms of funding, but also mentorship, training, and resources.”
Established Since: 2016
Founders: Jayn Sy, Rupert Calvin Sievert, and Athena Lavega
As a company in the agritech and cleantech industries, Farmwatch Solutions conducts remote environmental and energy monitoring for agricultural and industrial buildings. Founded by Jayn Sy, Rupert Calvin Sievert, and Athena Lavega, the business examines the different environmental parameters affecting livestock farms and provides data coupled with an expert-based recommendation system to help their clients effectively manage their buildings. They also do energy monitoring and management for biogas generators and green buildings. “Farmwatch’s goal is to ensure that animals and humans alike get access to better living conditions through efficient and expert environmental monitoring,” the founders share.
CEO Engr. Athena Lavega has a master’s degree in electrical engineering and is a professor at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, while CTO Engr. Rupert Calvin Sievert is an electronics and communications engineer as well as a professional full-stack software and hardware developer. Handling operations and finance is Jane Sy, who has a degree in pharmacy, and a master’s in both marketing management and science in entrepreneurship. Together with their diverse skill sets, they seek to champion sustainability by reducing ecological impact utilizing technology. When it comes to their ultimate aspiration as founders, Jane expresses: “Speaking on behalf of the Farmwatch team, our ultimate aspiration is to really marry technology with environmental science. We want to be able to provide solutions that would greatly benefit the world and help ease the staggering damages in our environment. It might sound too idealistic or ‘millennial-like,’ but we fully embrace such notions because we think that intellect and skills should be used beyond the corporate and capitalistic sense and should be used to support sustainable goals.”
Growing in their operations, Farmtech Solutions received a government grant from the Department of Science and Technology to further develop their product and gather more data through pilot deployments. “We have deployed mostly in poultry farms in Mindanao and do biogas energy monitoring in Luzon. We have partnered with several IoT (Internet of Things) private companies to increase the value of our services and scale our operations.”
“I can honestly say that we are eons away from the rest of the world,” attests Jane regarding the Philippine startup scene. “The thing with “catching up” is that while we try to do so, the advanced countries are also moving forward, so I don’t think we can truly catch up in that sense. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the lack of skills or great minds, it’s the traditional and unfriendly ecosystem we live in that hinders most of the startups. We first need to disrupt the ecosystem, be more open to discussions, veer away from power-tripping government agencies, and just honestly support startups without the red tape.”
Read the full edition of Illustrado Work & Play 2019 on www.issuu.com