MANILA, Philippines - Filipino top tech entrepreneur Myla Villanueva will attest that she is the best example that you can start your own company and be successful.
Villanueva was only 21, a fresh graduate from Sta. Clara University in Silicon Valley in California, when she packed her bags and decided to go to her home country, the Philippines, in 1988 to start up an IT company at a time when the Internet and dot-coms were barely heard of in the country.
But she took the risks, rammed through every challenge and built IT enterprise after IT enterprise that soon became very successful in the Philippines and abroad.
Villanueva founded Wolfpac, a pioneer in mobile applications, and Meridian, the first broadband wireless provider in the country. Meridian was the largest broadband wireless implementation with over 3,000 base stations enabled. Both companies have been bought by Smart Communications.
Villanueva is also the founder of MDi, a leading systems integrator in the Philippines representing Cisco, 3Com, Juniper, Dell, and IBM. She also co-founded Microwarehouse, a value added distributor for Apple, Palm, Cisco, Linksys, 3Com, and HP Ipaq.
Today, Villanueva is the partner and managing director of Novare Technologies, a global IT solutions company based in Hong Kong.
But even though Villanueva is now at the pinnacle of success, there is still something that she wants to do.
She wants to impart to her fellow Filipinos that they can be successful, too, if they innovate, prototype their own products and build their own companies just like she did.
“What worked for me will work for other people, too. I want to support start-up companies and support their ideas and innovations because I know, given the support, they will be successful. It has happened to me, it has happened to more people and hopefully, it can happen to anyone,” she said in an interview with the press.
Hence, on an auspicious date, on Jan. 11, Villanueva will launch Angel Fund, P111-million fund that will support and bankroll deserving IT ideas.
Villanueva believes in the potential of Filipino techies, saying there could be another Steve Jobs or Michael Zuckerberg in the Philippines if they learn how to change their mindset, that is, to be more of an innovator rather than a user of technology.
“We want to encourage people to innovate. We want them not to be just users but builders. We want them to build their own companies, craft their own models and be successful,” she said.
Villanueva will scour colleges and universities all over the country for potentially brilliant IT ideas.
Aside from funding, the chosen ones will receive mentoring from seasoned IT executives. Villanueva will link them up with multinational companies and the major players in the IT industry.
“We will see to it that their ideas and creations will fly and take off,” she said.
“I want to make them aware that after they have built their companies and developed their own software, in three years time, they can have an exit. Before I didn’t even know there was such a thing as exit, the buying and selling of companies. They can do this,” she said.
Those interested can submit their winning ideas to www.wirelesswings.com.ph.
Villanueva has a lot of faith in the talent of Filipinos. She believes they can create products and innovations that can be global brands.
“We want them to think forward and realize that their ideas and products could also be used in Asia, in Indonesia and China. We have the same demography and what can work out here, can work out there. Hopefully, we could follow this path,” she said.
The project will be a long process but Villanueva said at least the fund, which is her own, is already there for the funding of start-up companies.
“But we invite other companies who have the same advocacy for their contributions,” she said.
Villanueva said she will also be very hands-on on the project.
“This is not a short process. We will give our time and we will mentor. I am not a technical person, I am an economist, but what worked for me will surely work for other people. This will be my lifelong advocacy and will do this until I retire. We are very positive about this,” she said. - By Patricia Esteves