Sinigang Valley and Esquire Philippines Team Up for the First-Ever 'Build: A Startup Festival'

Empower Philippine startups to win.

The Philippine startup scene’s biggest names are gathering this March 9 and 10 at Build, the first-ever annual startup festival co-organized by Sinigang Valley and Esquire Philippines.

The two-day event will bring together the industry’s most notable founders and investors for a series of intimate and exclusive talks. 

The startup festival will take place online, with virtual talks open to the public via Zoom and Facebook Live. Day one (March 9) will be open to the public on Zoom, and day two (March 10) will be live-streamed on Facebook live via Esquire, Kumu, and Sinigang Valley's respective Facebook pages. 

Build will feature local and regional startup icons to participate in sessions that are packed with thought-provoking discussion, creative insights, and practical solutions that are anchored within the Philippine and Southeast Asian context.

Connect with the ecosystem’s brightest minds at Build: A Startup Festival happening on March 9 and 10. 

Sign up for the event here.

March 9 

Building Community Through Tech: From Kumu to Sinigang Valley

Time: 1:55pm - 2:15pm

Kumu's co-founder and CEO Roland Ros will open Build with the opening remarks and a keynote speech. Ros has been a driving force in the Sinigang Valley movement and an inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs. Kumu has raised over 100 million dollars in venture funds and is now considered the top-grossing social app in the Philippines. By all means, Kumu has made it, and now its mission is to pay it forward by giving other startups a chance to achieve the same level of success and innovation. 


Ros was part of the group that dreamt up the idea for Sinigang Valley, a community of start-ups, investors, academia, and related industries that will become the cornerstone of the start-up ecosystem in the Philippines.

Sign up here.

State of the Philippine Start-Up Ecosystem: 2022 Venture Capital Report 

Time: 2:15pm – 2:55pm

This session will cover the 2022 Venture Capital report and all the individual insights collated from other funds and startup founders.

What industries exhibited the most growth? Why the Philippines, what did the foreign funds see? Who are the key players and founders who emerged in 2022? What were the most impressive metrics for growth in 2022? What does this mean for the startup industry?

Find out at the opening talk of Build: A Startup Festival. 

Moderator: Franco Varona of Foxmont Capital Partners 

Panelists: Paulo Campos of Kaya Founders, Field Pickering of Vulpes Ventures, Gervin Yang of Openspace Ventures, Katrina Razon of KSR Ventures

Sign up here.

Opportunities in the Philippines: What We Can Learn From SEA and Indonesia

Time: 2:55pm – 3:35pm

Without a doubt, the Philippine startup scene is on the cusp of takeoff. The pandemic has only accelerated consumer adoption of e-commerce, fintech, digital gaming, and media. 

But in many ways, the Philippines is still behind its neighbors where the digital ecosystem is concerned and this only means that there are many areas of opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs out there. Paul Santos of Wavemaker and Jefrey Joe of Alpha JWC Ventures will share some insights on the matter.

What can we learn from Indonesia and Southeast Asia about the next big opportunity? This session is for entrepreneurs and investors who want to be clued in.

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Moderator: Anthony Oundijan of Boston Consulting Group

Panelists: Paul Santos of Wavemaker, Jefrey Joe of Alpha JWC Ventures, Aldi Haryopratomo of eFishery, 

Sign up here.

Founder Spotlight: Steve Sy, Great Deals E-Commerce

Time: 3:35pm – 3:55pm

Great Deals, an e-commerce enabler, is a bonafide local success story.  

Great Deals’ Steve Sy talks about his vision, his entrepreneurial journey, the future of Great Deals and e-commerce in general, and tips for entrepreneurs.

This discussion is for anyone interested in the future of retail.

Moderator: Ben Wintle of Booky

Speaker: Steve Sy of Great Deals E-Commerce

Sign up here.

A Founder’s Fundraising Journey to Series B and C

Time: 4:00pm – 4:45pm

Series A is a feat but reaching Series C is a whole different ball game. Founders of local startups that have done so will talk about their arduous journey. ER Rollan of Growsari, Nichel Gaba of PDAX, and Rexy Dorado of Kumu will talk about their record-breaking raises and what it took to get there.

Moderator: Constantin Robertz of Locad

Panelists: ER Rollan of Growsari, Rexy Dorado of Kumu, Nichel Gaba of PDAX

Sign up here.

Impress the Press

Time: 4:45pm – 5:30pm

For any startup, the technology and business press have become a crucial partner in helping build credibility and awareness. 

This session brings together editors from reputable local and regional tech media to help answer the question: How do you impress the press? At what point of your journey do you become newsworthy? How do you pitch your story? Do you need to work with a professional public relations team? Or can you do it on a shoestring? How do you sustain coverage? How do you build a relationship with the media? 


This session is ideal for founders who are looking to partner with the media to build awareness with investors and the public in general.

Moderator: Ron Baetiong of Podcast Network Asia

Panelists: PJ Caña of Esquire Philippines, Willis Wee of TechinAsia, Mohan Belani of E27

Sign up here.

Founder Spotlight: Gabby Dizon, YGG

Time: 5:30pm – 6:15pm

The Philippines ranks first for NFT ownership among 20 countries, mostly due to in-game assets owned in games like Axie Infinity. 

This session will focus on the success of Yield Guild Games, a Filipino start-up that is credited with developing a highly successful play-to-earn model that has taken the country and the world by storm. 

The founders of Yield Guild Games will discuss the future of NFTS and crypto, and what they see as applications outside of Axie.

Moderator: Leah Butler of Emfarsis

Speaker: Gabby Dizon of Yield Guild Games

Sign up here.

March 10 

Bootstrapping Your Way to Series A

Time: 1:45pm – 2:30pm

Learn entrepreneurship from these true-blue bootstrappers who, with just a little cash (mostly personal savings) and a whole lot of chutzpah, built products, teams, and pitch decks that attracted Series A investors. 

These two founders will share stories of their dreams, their sacrifices, their countless pivots, en route to their first big raises. 

Anyone with a great idea, a whole lot of smarts and passion, a little cash, and who needs a big dose of inspiration will find this session to their liking.

Moderator: Katrina Chan of QBO

Panelists: Nel Laygo of Peddlr, Ron Baetiong of Podcast Network Asia, Mel Nava of 1Export


Founder Spotlight: Bela Gupta, Edamama

Time: 2:30pm – 3:15pm

Bela Gupta D'Souza is the founder of Edamama, a content-community-commerce platform for mothers in the Philippines. Many of her experiences as a mother of two led her to create products that could solve many of a new mother's pain points; namely, finding trustworthy products and seeking credible and authentic advice on parenting.

Edamama has raised over $5 million in pre-series A funding round from Gentree, Robinsons Retail Holdings, Foxmont and Kickstart Ventures. Before Edamama, Bela also founded AdSpark, a leading digital ad agency in the country. She graduated with an MBA from Stanford in 2011 and a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Mumbai.

Bela will talk about her journey as an entrepreneur in the Philippines, the importance of building product-market fit, and how she sees omnichannel retail and consumer experiences evolving. 

Moderator: Rissa Mananquil Trillo, entrepreneur 

Speaker: Bela Gupta of Edamama

Raising Seed Stage, From an Investors’ Perspective

Time: 3:20 pm – 4:05pm

You have an idea, you have a team, you have a product, and now you need the funds. This workshop teaches you how to prepare your company for the fundraising journey. 

This 101 session is meant for start-up founders who are raising money for the first time and do not know how to do so, as well as for aspiring investors who are looking into venture as an asset class. This nuts-and-bolts session will discuss the basics of successfully raising money.

Moderator: Franco Varona of Foxmont

Speakers: Quenby Go of Manila Angel Investors Network, Jeremy Young of Gentree Fund, Paulo Campos of Kaya Founders, Jojo Malolos of JG Digital Equity Ventures & Data Analytics Ventures


Founder Spotlight: Stef Sy, Thinking Machines

Time: 4:05pm – 4:55pm

Stanford graduate and former Google engineer Stef Sy has built Thinking Machines into a highly-respected data consultancy in the region, with offices in the Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore.

Stef shares her entrepreneurial journey, her business principles, and how Thinking Machines continue to evolve.

Moderator: Natasha Bautista of 917Ventures

Speaker: Stef Sy of Thinking Machines

Launch of "50 Most Influential People in the Philippine Startup Industry"

Time: 4:55pm – 5:00pm

Esquire Philippines will release its first-ever "50 Most Influential People in the Philippine Startup Industry" list. We honor the founders, investors, thought-leaders, and disruptors of our local startup ecosystem.

Presented by: PJ Cana, Associate Editor of Esquire Philippines

About Sinigang Valley

The Sinigang Valley Association is an independent organization run by the like-minded entrepreneurs in Metro Manila to foster a community of creative individuals in the hopes of creating a healthy ecosystem for people who are leading the change.

Sinigang Valley is a place for startups, enablers, funders, or any organizations that brings synergies in helping potential and future entrepreneurs, innovators, creators, or any passionate individuals, to turn their ideas into a successful venture.

For more details, visit Sinigang Valley’s website here.

About Esquire Philippines 

Esquire Philippines is a digital lifestyle brand delivered at a pace that meets the era's constant stream of concerns, issues, and fashions. Curated for the discerning Filipino, it delivers compelling contentthought-provoking features, necessary style guides, front-row commentaries on politics, business, entertainment, and more.

Esquire Philippines is a legacy brand under Summit Media, the Philippines' leading digital lifestyle network. 


Discover the best of culture, business, and style from Esquire Philippines. Visit Quento for more stories and subscribe to our YouTube channel for new videos. 

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