December 3, 2010 — WHEN prominent technology publication Red Herring announced that Morph Labs made it to their Asia’s Top 100 Tech Companies award list this year, Filipino businessman Winston Damarillo wanted people to know that the company he founded is based in the Philippines.
The Philippines is not exactly a hub of technology and innovation, trailing powerhouse Japan, Korea and China and even India in Asia but Damarillo felt it was important for people to recognize that there is great technology capability in the Philippines.
Damarillo said Red Herring recognizes the top 100 companies in Asia every year for the past several years and as far as he knows only two Philippine based tech companies have ever won it.
“It’s sad,” said Damarillo to the Asian Journal. “The award recognizes companies in Asia and the Philippines has only had two winners, I think we should be getting five to ten companies on that list. That is one area that needs to be discussed.”
“We haven’t built really good products yet,” he added. “If all we’re doing is outsourcing then we’re not getting the leverage or running a product and until we build great products we’ll continue to lose talents in the Philippines.”
Damarillo is trying to do his part in developing, providing and marketing the Philippines as a place to develop business especially in technology.
He is regarded as a key driver in the development of the Philippine IT industry and sits on the board and serves as the international marketing director for the Philippine Software Industry Association, a non-profit organization that promotes the growth and global competitiveness of the Philippine software industry. He’s also a Young Global Leader (YGL) honoree for 2010 and an active participant of the World Economic Forum, a place where young leaders envision and create a brighter future.
Winning a Red Herring award is nothing new for Damarillo.
The 40-year-old De La Salle University Philippines graduate has been CEO to two other Red Herring awardees. Aside from Morph Labs, Damarillo founded Exist Global, which won the award in 2006, and Simula Labs in 2007.
Damarillo, a Chinese-Filipino, said there’s no secret to creating a successful business just hard work.
After graduating from De La Salle with a BS in Industrial and Mechanical Engineering, Damarillo moved to the US at the age of 19 and began his career at Intel as a venture capital professional.
He stayed with the company for eight years before leaving to start his own business Global Gateway Innovation Exchange (G2iX), which focuses on building start-up technology companies.
Right away, G2iX was very successful in building start-up companies and selling them for a large profit. Within the past five years, he’s founded and sold three companies, Gluecode to IBM in 2005 for $60 million, LogicBlaze to Progress Software in 2007 and Webtide to Intalio in 2009.
“It’s a very rewarding experience to build a company from the ground up and sell it,” he said. “I made my engineers a lot of money but one thing I failed to do or wished I could have done better after I sold my first company was to market the Philippines. From then on in, I make sure the companies that I build I highlight that it’s engineered in the Philippines, it’s run by a Filipino team and CEO.”
Damarillo said he tries to stay ahead of the game when it comes to creating a start-up.
“I like to discover products and technology just before it becomes mainstream,” he said. “I like to be far ahead of the game and I want to keep doing that. That’s my strength and I’m really good at finding out what’s next.”
PH as a technology resource
Damarillo, who grew up in Mindanao, said it’s time for Filipinos to start opening businesses in the country. With a new administration, there’s a sense of hope, he said.
He said the foundation to start up technology companies in IT and software – businesses that don’t require a lot of overhead – is there in the Philippines but there are still a lot of things lacking.
Among them, he said, are mentors.
“We need to invite the global Filipinos and get together and unite and coordinate and invest back into the country,” he said. “We would be able to develop our own industry there. Another thing is Filipinos helping Filipinos. Not just sending money back but really investing. It’s a good time to do it.”
He also said it’s time to create world class opportunities for Filipinos so they don’t have to leave the country for a better opportunity elsewhere.
“That all goes back to entrepreneurship,” he said. “There needs to be more companies there. If we don’t create more companies there, there will always be more people leaving and you won’t see any world class opportunities there so that’s what we need to do. It’s going to take a while maybe five to ten years but if we focus and have a good partnership with businesses, government and academia it’s possible.”
Damarillo is doing his part in the process of helping Filipinos start their own business and bring companies to the Philippines for business.
Now, it’s time for other Filipinos to do theirs.
“Don’t settle,” he said. “That’s the problem with Filipinos. We’re happy with certain levels in life but there [are] substantial rewards [in] starting your own business.”
Originally published in Asianjournal