With the world taking a leap in digitalization over the last couple of years, businesses have followed suit to move online and build a strong digital infrastructure. However, there are still gaps in many markets, especially in Southeast Asia, which has a fair share of markets that are lacking in access to the technology and knowledge required.

To better understand the situation in The Philippines, we spoke to startup founder John Andrew Mañacop, the CEO of Makarius Smart Innovations about the situation on the ground.

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John started his tech company as a way to push forward digitalization in The Philippines through education and access. He has continued to grow the business and build a strong team of passionate individuals to help create a tech-savvy business ecosystem in the market that can take advantage of the digital-first environment.

Could you share a bit more about Makarius Smart Innovations and what it does?

Makarius Smart Innovations has a large vision of being one of the movers and catalysts of digitalization in the Philippines. We aim to tap on each area of innovation in the country so that gradually, we can ignite change, modernization, and improvement on ways how students learn, how businesses operate and even how we sustain our everyday lives.

John Andrew Mañacop, the CEO of Makarius Smart Innovations
John using his own products. Image courtesy of Makarius Smart Innovations

We are a tech company that has several business segments focused on utilizing and managing cryptocurrencies and NFTs, Education, Software Development, Media, and Gaming. 

We created an Integrated Learning Platform designed to work well with Blended Learning and Flipped Classroom set up to enable schools to adapt to digital transformation and encourage students to learn while keeping them close to their interests and needs. We also deliver IT Services and Consulting to companies by creating innovative platforms for their business and providing software products to improve their automation processes, and workflows. We also started our program to empower young entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners who have innovative ideas but don’t have the skills or funding to pay for technology. We will partner with them and enable them by providing and creating the technology that they need. We also offer virtual and hybrid event services for our clients to host conferences, conventions, expos, fairs, campaigns, workshops and even lifestyle events either fully through our virtual platforms or a combination of virtual and onsite. We also have a system on how to utilize and maximize profits from “Play-to-Earn” games through the developed operating processes, techniques and strategies which hired professional players can use to convert their playtime and skills to earnings. 

What are some of the major issues that The Philippines faces when it comes to digitalization?

Our focus is Education. For us, if you want to change The Philippines and ignite a sense of modernization, progress, and growth, you must really spend time and effort on learning for young students and future professionals. The issue about education was exposed by the Pandemic and we all know that the traditional type of learning isn’t effective anymore. We can’t spend classes face to face and modular types of lectures did not solve the problem but instead increase anxiety and stress to both parents and students. Online learning was adapted prematurely but not able to cater to what Filipino students need especially since most of them are preoccupied with social media and other things. 

Another issue is about MSMEs. They don’t have direct access to newer technologies for them to maximize their reach and potential. For us, it is important for these businesses to be equipped with cloud-based services and mobile applications that could ease their daily operations, finances and accepting payments instead of manual solutions which could lead to errors and low-quality outputs. 

Some companies and government sectors haven’t fully adapted yet to new platforms and employees are not well digitally equipped, forced to use complex ad hard to understand software and application which could lead to inefficiency and slow process. 

Normal commute in the Philippines is very difficult given the traffic on the major roads connected to central business districts. Employees are already tired even before they get to reach their offices. The pandemic has given us an alternative for a Work-from-Home setup, but the issue is that the leaders and companies cannot implement work collaboration and a close approach between 

managers and their people. They think that the traditional face to face work set-up is still the best solution to maximize their employees’ productivity. But instead, they haven’t yet tapped to virtual platforms which can offer the right balance of work from home set-up and office experience.

Also, because of the Pandemic, there had been a rise in demand and attention in Cryptocurrencies and Play to Earn games whereas even if it became profitable for most Filipinos, since it is decentralized and unexplored by the government, they weren’t able to regulate it and use it as an additional source of remittances for every transaction made.  

Given your mission, what are the areas you think your products will have the biggest impacts?

Our learning management system aims to convert the traditional types of learning to Blended Learning and Flipped Classroom. For us, this will increase the efficiency of lectures and become more effective in training students. Aside from understanding, retention is also important. That is why we plan to change the time-based type of lessons (where all students need to adjust to the schedule the school has provided) to Mastery-Based (where the topic will only be switched to the next one when the students are ready). We also aim to create cloud-based applications for MSMEs and Big Companies to enhance and improve their workflows, increase their efficiency, and maximize profitability. We also aim to equip their businesses with HR systems (for rewards, salary increase, KPIs, and work-order management), accounting systems and many more. For virtual events and offices, we have virtual platforms ready aside from Zoom which can create a live and real experience for people as they spend time with each other, whether that would be seminars, conferences, Graduation, Expos, Fairs, Weddings, Concerts, Birthdays or even just a casual meet up with each other. This will enable people to attend work or meetings even at home while avoiding a compromise in experience and reliability.

Our Gaming system, on the other hand, will bring many jobs to people. This is not just a “scholar” type of earning profit but gamers being hired as professionals and as full-time employees. We are currently working with the government on how this type of industry can help ease the problem of unemployment in the Philippines and how it can also be an alternative source of funds that they can use for the country.

What are some of the challenges you foresee facing as you continue to grow?

We realize that there will always be growth spurt challenges along the way, especially because as we want to scale and expand our market, we would need more funding to support our plans from hiring more people, switching to bigger offices, buying more substantial equipment and spend on ads and marketing. The founders did not come from a rich community, but we believe that if we will be supported for our plans to be implemented, we could really bring change and solutions to the market. Our company is also growing. That means, there are a lot of people to manage and train. We need to spend more time to reach out to them, cater for their needs, and further develop their skills and character not just to help the company but improve themselves. Also, as the company grow, there are big decisions to make and large barriers to break and we know that even us founders, need to hone our skills, build networks, and gain more wisdom to lead this company. 

Makarius Smart Innovations team
Makarius Smart Innovations team. Image courtesy of Makarius Smart Innovations

What’s next for Makarius Smart Innovations?

Right now, we are developing new platforms and features for our products. We are also increasing our workforce to support the demand in the market. We are also investing in newer and better digital equipment to be competitive in the industry. 

We will be partnering with Schools, Universities, and other learning institutions so that we can enhance their method of teaching and further convert the traditional types of lectures and activities to technology equipped types of education. We will also be expanding our networks and would aim to work collaboratively with other startups and established businesses to develop solutions, little by little, to help the Philippines progress and attain digitalization and modernization. We also aim to create a Meta Space where people can meet, celebrate, play games, buy products, and host parties.

Since we have great plans and long-term goals, we are reaching out to people, venture capitalists, investors, and company owners to gain funding and investments as accelerators in our business. We are also looking for partners, clients and developers who can collaborate with us and help us build the future that we want for the Philippines.