Startup Grind 2024: Rediscovering New Networks for the Cebuano Startup Community

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It just goes to show that it gets better the second time around and Startup Grind Cebu is finally back this year to prove it to the whole Cebuano startup community. After their indefinite hiatus during the pandemic, Startup Grind Cebu marked their grand return to the startup limelight last January 25, 2024 at The Company Cebu Mandaue Branch, fully supported by Mata Technologies and The Company Cebu. The event was organized by Startup Grind masterminds—director Benjamin Claeys and co-director Joanna Paula Mariblanca. Truly an exciting feat to a year filled with growth and promise for our local entrepreneurs and startup geeks!

The relaunching of the monthly event kicked off with fireside chat with one of Cebu’s trailblazers in the industry of digital healthcare, SugboDoc – Anywhere Healthcare, represented by their founder, Mr. Ryan Michael Gelig. The fireside chat was moderated by Benjamin and hosted by Joanna wherein they underscored the importance of moving the boundaries of healthcare in the Philippines. In this article, we will revisit the role of Startup Grind in the Cebuano startup ecosystem and delve into the salient points of Gelig’s fireside chat.

Homecoming: Startup Grind as a Community-Based Network

A bit of a re-introduction to the origins of Startup Grind and its goals in the local scene would lay some context on the value of the event to new business owners, investors, and startup founders. Established in 2010 by founder Derek Andersen, Startup Grind emerged from a shared desire among him and his friends, fellow entrepreneurs, to tackle the common challenge of navigating the complexities of launching a company. As they delved into this issue, it became evident that these hurdles extended well beyond their collective. The gatherings sparked a local startup movement, drawing founders and experts from diverse industries, converging to exchange advice and insights for early-stage entrepreneurs. Eventually, thriving Startup Grind communities, known as “chapters,” flourished in cities all over the world. They exemplify the strength that arises when entrepreneurs unite.

The Startup Grind Cebu Chapter is an active branch of this ongoing movement of relatively new startups trying to make sense of their path through the guidance of those who have acquired experience or to network with young entrepreneurs and investors in Cebu. As a community-based organization, they are planning to organize monthly meetups this year with successful founders, entrepreneurs, and investors to provide invaluable lessons and amazing startup linkages to anyone who is interested. Ultimately, their role is to re-establish networks, camaraderie, and solidarity within and among startups in Cebu. In addition to this, they also encourage budding entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners to take the next step in their journey to create a business that represents their values and contribution to society. The openness and vibrance that they share with their participants motivates them to pursue greater heights.

SugboDoc: Challenging Norms, Changing Startup Landscapes

For the pilot event of Startup Grind this year, they invited a Cebuano trailblazer who is redefining and blurring the boundaries of access to healthcare in the Philippines. Ryan Michael Gelig is the founder of SugboDoc – Anywhere Healthcare which pushes for the digitized and democratized healthcare for all Filipinos. For the past seven years, Ryan has been dedicated to designing healthcare information systems tailored to consolidate a patient’s medical information into a unified platform. This approach aims to simplify the comprehension and access of a patient’s health history for healthcare providers, enabling them to make well-informed decisions about the patient’s care. His expertise spans the creation of healthcare information systems for diverse settings, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, telehealth services, and ambulatory care environments. While this endeavor might be a close attempt to bring healthcare to everyone who needs it, Ryan suggests that this is proving to be a difficult feat with inflexible policies and traditionalist methods that make it almost impenetrable and resistant to change.

The fireside chat with Benjamin Claeys emphasized all of the work that went into branding and marketing the idea to healthcare providers and medical institutions because they are primarily tasked with processing the healthcare benefits of patients. Despite this great work with setting up the foundations in which the business can stand up on its own, Ryan advised the attendees that challenging norms and the whole startup landscape are one of the most difficult aspects to what he is trying to achieve with SugboDoc. However, these strict norms do not come unwarranted. Some of these criticisms primarily have to do with their security model to ensure the personal and sensitive information about a person’s health as proposed by Benjamin. Ryan confidently responded that this is a priority because they are in the business of handling sensitive information about other people.

On to the Next One: Growing Opportunities for Startups

After the fireside chat concluded, Benjamin and Joanna instructed the attendees to help themselves to the box of pizza and soft drinks while most of the attendees and interns of SugboDoc networked and talked with each other. There were a lot of enthusiastic and energetic exchange of ideas in the space that embodies the goals of The Company Cebu. The inspiring atmosphere was highly evident because people were drawn to the ideas that were being presented to them. The event is a statement to the reviving community of startups in Cebu. They are gradually taking an active role to interact and share their progress with their peers.

Startup Grind is much more than a startup mixer that gathers various small business owners, entrepreneurs, and startup enthusiasts. They are trying to build a community to present more growing opportunities for Cebuano startups. With Startup Grind’s relaunching success, they will gradually find the momentum as the years progresses and as more fresh minds join the different industries such as technology, e-commerce, and real estate. They will move forward on to the next big thing in the Cebuano startup ecosystem.

Moving Forward with Startups

The resurgence of Startup Grind Cebu marks a significant milestone in the local startup community’s journey. After a hiatus brought about by the pandemic, the recent event held at The Company Cebu Mandaue Branch signaled a triumphant return, sponsored by Mata Technologies and supported by The Company Cebu. Led by the visionary duo of director Benjamin Claeys and co-director Joanna Paula Mariblanca, the event not only celebrated the revival of Startup Grind but also exemplified the spirit of growth and promise within our local entrepreneurial landscape.

As highlighted in the fireside chat featuring Ryan Michael Gelig, founder of SugboDoc – Anywhere Healthcare, the challenges of reshaping traditional norms in industries like healthcare underscore the uphill battle startups often face. Nevertheless, with perseverance and innovation, these hurdles can be overcome. The event’s lively exchanges and networking opportunities underscored Startup Grind’s mission to foster a vibrant ecosystem where startups can thrive. As we move forward, fueled by the energy of collaboration and shared vision, Startup Grind Cebu paves the way for a future brimming with opportunities and breakthroughs in the Cebuano startup scene.

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