Packworks founders (left to right) Hubert Yap, Bing Tan and Ibrahim Bernando
According to the e-Conomy SEA 2020 report of Google, Temasek, and Bain and Company, around 37% of Filipino digital service consumers are new, and 95% of them intend to continue using at least one digital service post-pandemic. As e-commerce emerges, entrepreneurs and consumers must continuously adapt and learn how to utilize digital platforms and technology to their maximum advantage.
“Businesses may have already put their foot down digitally, the next question is—how will they retain and adapt to the ever-evolving environment?” says Ross Fallorina, QBO Innovation Hub’s Head of Strategy and Partnerships. “Our dependency on technology has tremendously increased during the pandemic, and we will continuously rely on it even after the pandemic. It now plays a vital role for individuals and also for businesses; we need it in order to adapt and innovate,” he adds.
In line with its effort to provide support to start-ups with business-to-business models (B2B), QBO, in partnership with Youth Business International (YBI), supported by Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org, introduced INQBATION: Leveling Up B2B Startups, an incubation program focused on supporting start-ups enabling businesses in the Philippines to grow and digitize.
“Digital transformation is key for businesses to grow and succeed, which is why Google is committed to enabling entrepreneurs in the Philippines to build their digital capabilities through our upskilling programs, mentorships, and partnerships. Supporting Youth Business International and QBO through Google.org programs such as INQBATION are important in equipping and empowering MSMEs in the country. We will continue to empower MSMEs in the country with the right knowledge, tools, and skills so they can drive business efficiency and reap the benefits of the growing digital economy,” said Bernadette Nacario, Country Director of Google Philippines.
After a successful screening, QBO announced the top three incubatees: Packworks, ChatGenie.PH and Senti AI, which then went through intensive training with QBO and its program partners including Google. More than a dozen Google industry experts took their time to upskill the start-ups with one-on-one mentorship and exclusive workshops, covering topics such as megabranding, product marketing, channel management, brand philosophy and essence, futureproofing, and professional sales 101.
Following the INQBATION, the three start-ups will present to investors, venture capitalists, and corporations through QBO’s SHOWQASE: Succeeding in the B2B Space on July 23 at 3:00 PM, for a chance to secure funding and partnerships. The start-up founders share their insights on how businesses can improve their digital platforms and use technology to boost and scale up one’s business:
Consolidate your business’ processes for efficiency
Packworks, a start-up that provides digital solutions from simple sales monitoring to more advanced challenges such as dispatch and logistics, has helped more than 1,200 superstores and 70,000 sari-sari stores to digitize their businesses and consolidate their processes.
“The power of our platform is in providing visibility for the entire business. We leverage the power of data through topline summaries and dashboards so that the owner can be away from the store and make running businesses a liberating experience,” says Bing Tan, CEO of Packworks.
Tan says that the adage “it used to work before, it will work for me tomorrow” is fast becoming inapplicable to growing your business today. “There is a deluge of information from your suppliers, customers, operations and much more coming from the homefront, which obliges us to be connected 24/7 to catch up to everything around us. We need technology to help us record information so we can create a strategy that moves the business forward.”
Expand customer reach via mini-applications
ChatGenie.PH, a start-up that offers a program for businesses to have an end-to-end platform within Facebook Messenger and GCash through its GLife program, shares the importance of helping small businesses go digital. “We figured that a lot of small businesses have little knowledge and resources to go digital so we figured their needs and unique value proposition fit together. They are also the most vulnerable sector that needs assistance on how to go online as quickly as possible with little to no additional cost,” said ChatGenie’s CEO, Ragde Falcis.
With ChatGenie, customers will have fewer friction points by bypassing the need to download and manage a specific app to engage or purchase in your business. This creates a direct relationship between the brand and its customers. They were able to generate more than Php 100 million transactions and launch over 1,500 mini apps since the lockdown, and have just recently launched their mini-programs via GCash.
Falcis advises businesses to use technology to diversify their sales channels by utilizing a platform where they can control and have access to customer data; to assess the journey of their customers; and, to simply sell everywhere. “If your customers are hanging out on social media, make the sale inside social media. It gives you the opportunity to be part of their purchase journey from start to finish. If your customers often use mobile wallets to send money to their friends and families, sell inside mobile wallets as well,” he said.
Make your business accessible to customers
With contact centers relying on digital channels, Senti AI recognized the need for smarter tech-enabled solutions and built a voice center artificial intelligence named “Voix”, a program which specializes in the Filipino language to help contact centers and their agents adapt to overwhelming call volumes and continue delivering customer experiences on multiple online channels. Senti AI was able to close 6 enterprise clients this year, and is considered as one of the 30 Google Cloud Breakthrough partners in the Philippines.
“The sudden surge in call volume has caused agent burnout and has also negatively impacted contact centers’ satisfaction ratings and customer experience,” says Ria Flora, Senti AI’s Head of Special Projects and Data Scientist. “There are many stories about companies who lost market share because they didn’t innovate or listen to their customers. It doesn’t make sense for any company to keep acquiring new customers but fail to retain them.”
“Technology can help you improve your competitive stance by improving or creating new services; use it so you can become more reachable, accessible, and so you can engage better with your customers,” says Dr. Charibeth Cheng, Co-founder & Chief Research Officer of Senti AI.