Technology and Business

A couple of weeks ago, I had emailed Ms. Michi Barcelon of the Ayala Foundation’s Technology Business Incubator. The Ayala Corporation is one of the country’s most prominent forces, and the foundation is no different. The Ayala Foundation has initiated and supported a wide array of initiatives that have greatly benefitted the country. As mentioned in their website, The Technology Business Incubator “provides invaluable support to technology start-ups and entrepreneurs” and “aims to identify, develop, and promote social entrepreneurs providing innovative solutions to social problems.” In response to my email, the team had originally set up a meeting with me last tuesday. In an ironic twist of fate, I was unable to get into the city due to a storm and flooding. Refusing to give up, we then took the 21st century approach and arranged a skype video call. The storm was just as persistent and eventually messed with our internet so much that our video call was demoted to a skype voice call to eventually just a regular phone call. Despite the technical difficulties, it was a very good meeting. The team expressed how much they liked the project and forwarded their willingness to support me in anyway they could. They asked if I would be available to meet with their technical team as well as some of the entrepreneurs, and I happily agreed.

The next week, the Ayala TBI team graciously invited me to an event they were hosting for ambassadors, consul generals, and expatriates, in which they explained the work TBI was doing and showcased their projects and partners. As the guests started coming in, I was introduced to some incredible people. I met the President of the Ayala Foundation, as well as start-up entrepreneurs from here and the US. I struck up a conversation with a Computer Science Professor from the University of the Philippines who recently led a student team to win the Kapersky Challenge in the Netherlands. While it was evident from the start that she could provide me some valuable input with regards to my project, I was surprised to hear that I could be of help to her as well! Another project she is on is¬†Project Noah — a new and innovative government initiative that aims to greatly improve the nation’s weather monitoring and disaster preparedness. While this project has gained a lot of publicity lately, the team has struggled standardizing their geocoding. Oddly enough, my expertise is in Geocoding spending most of my time at the World Bank and Development Gateway using, improving, and teaching geocoding.

As we stood there talking, Ms. Barcelon brought more people into our circle and introduced me to the group explaining to them how I wanted to create a crowd-sourcing platform to improve disaster management. I was introduced to a variety of people and as each person said their name in introduction, I made a mental note to approach them later on. I was so surprised to find that after initial introductions most of them came up to me asking if we could speak further about my project and potential links and partnerships. One of the people very interested in my project was the head of research and development at IBM! After coffee and mingling, everyone sat down to begin the program. I was so shocked and humbled to hear that due to so much interest generated about my project, the team now wanted to include me in the program to speak formally about my project. Unfortunately, I had to decline since the program started late and I had to rush my next meeting–in all seriousness, I would have stayed there the whole day if I could!