These Are the Top Revenue-Generating Startups in the Philippines for 2021
The prevailing sentiment at this year’s Philippine Startup Week is one of excitement and optimism. Local startup companies have enjoyed modest growth in the country over the years, but at no time has interest, and indeed, investments into Filipino startups been higher or more pronounced than this past year.
In fact, more capital was infused into Filipino startups in 2021 than the last three years combined, according to the just-released Philippine Startup Ecosystem Report 2021 by Gobi-Core PH Fund, the joint venture between Gobi Partners and Core Capital. A total of $858 million in investments were made into local startups this year compared to $803 million from 2018 to 2020.
“In spite of the pandemic, venture deal activity did not slow down in 2020, with 2021 proving not that much different,” the report said. “If anything, the amount of activity actually accelerated: as of early November 2021, this year has already proven to be a record, with close to $1 billion invested into Philippine tech companies.
The Gobi-Core report estimates that there are about 700 startups in the Philippines as of October 2021, although the number is likely higher. Outside of a few lists done by select news and tech websites, which are largely subjective and arbitrary, there has never really been a ranking of these startups based on a solid metric since those done by Forbes Philippines and Entrepreneur Philippines, the defunct business news platforms published by Summit Media, in 2016 and 2018, respectively.
We at Esquire Philippines are continuing the tradition started by our former colleagues at Forbes Philippines and Entrepreneur Philippines and are publishing a new report that ranks the top Filipino startups by revenue in 2021.
Culling data the companies themselves filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it’s evident that many startups are earning more today than they did just a few years ago. Our top revenue-generating startup, Great Deals, for instance, declared revenues of P4.4 billion in 2020, which is a tremendous 241.81 percent growth from the P1.29 billion it recorded the previous year.
The big winner, in simple growth terms, however, is Kumu, which recorded a whopping 1,190.14 percent increase in revenue in one year: from P74.16 million to P956.76 million.
It's the same story for nearly all of the startups in the list: all but four companies (Cashalo, Pawnhero, Mosaic Solutions, and NextPay) recorded positive growth in revenues in the course of a year. In addition, almost all of the startups that have recorded increased revenues have been around for at least five years or longer, an indication that they might be prioritizing longevity rather than just expansion.
However, it's worth noting that, because the data from the SEC is from 2020 and earlier, it doesn't yet reflect the tremendous growth experienced by many of these startups in 2021. Social media superstar Kumu, for instance, which recently closed a Series C round that upped its total funding to over $100 million, is undoubtedly making a lot more now than the P956 million it reported last year.
Another interesting observation based on data is the direct correlation between funds raised and revenue; the higher the funding valuation, the bigger the earnings. As the Gobi-Core report indicates, Filipino startups are attracting more and more capital from VC firms both here and abroad, in what is perhaps the surest sign that local companies are finally getting the attention and support they deserve.
Finally, we should also take note of the industries that the top startups in the Philippines are operating in. Of the startups in the top seven, all are involved in either fintech or e-commerce. Other industries represented in the list are education, health, food & beverage, entertainment, and data analytics, but there is a clear indication that fintech and e-commerce generate the most returns, particularly for early adopters.
This is reflected in the massive growth in fintech players in the country: according to the BSP, from just 30 fintech firms in 2016, there were already 220 in 2020, and the number is almost certainly only going to get higher in 2021.
There are, of course, other startups that might potentially be on this list if they submitted the required information to the SEC. Some companies like Paymongo, Edamama, Locad, Squidpay, Yield Guild Games, Saphron, Avion School, and Dashlabs.AI have announced significant funding rounds and/or have shown promising signs of disrupting their respective industries, but they are not in this list because there is no information available with the SEC. Others like Etaily and MyKuya are also possibilities, but they are technically not based in the Philippines (and also do not have SEC data). We also deliberately left off companies like Mynt and Voyager Innovations, which, although still technically startups, are backed by major Filipino corporations Globe and PLDT, respectively.
Sources and methodology
The research team of Esquire Philippines started with a list of Filipino startups from online databases such as Crunchbase, e27, and Tech in Asia. We cross-referenced this list with news and announcements about funding rounds to see the ones that had the most potential for growth. We then requested for all of the available financial information from the SEC. As mentioned, many of the startups either do not have financial statements on file with the SEC or their latest reports have yet to be made available.
To ensure a broad coverage, we compiled financial data on companies that have submitted reports in any of the last three years, from 2018 to 2020 and picked out the latest figures. These were then ranked and the 29 startups with the largest revenue figures are listed here.
The infographic has been updated to reflect the most recent data provided by the startups themselves.