With the world obsessed with Web3 and a concerted push by investors to focus on next-gen technology, the future looks exciting for startups and the technology space in general. However, ensuring that there is enough attention and resources to go around can be difficult.
Looking at markets like The Philippines, which has traditionally not been able to attract the same level of investments as markets like Singapore and Indonesia, there is a need for ecosystem support and organisations like Archipelago Labs or A-Labs.
With a fund size of $10 million and backed by reputable partners from the Philippine Digital Asset Exchange (PDAX), Oak Drive Ventures Inc., and Magellan Digital Investment Group (MDIG), A-Labs boasts a strong network of mentors, experts, and capital partners who will support the startups in growing their ventures.
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The programme’s goal is to support startups and founders at the grassroots level by providing investment funding, advisory services, and structured programmes such as hackathons, incubation, and accelerator programmes that target specific verticals and stages of development and growth.
We spoke to A-Labs Executive Director, Lance Pormarejo about the new programme and what it means for the local ecosystem.
Lance has been involved in the tech startup industry since 2015, wearing various hats such as co-founder, operator, marketer, and business developer. His experience in the field has led him to collaborate with a number of notable innovators, accelerators, and startups around the world.
He began learning, trading, and working in the blockchain industry in 2017 and has never looked back. He is now leading and navigating the Philippines into Web3 via Archipelago Labs.
Congrats on the new fund. Could you give us some insight into the fund and your focus?
Thank you so much! A little backstory on why Archipelago Labs was created: Oak Drive Ventures, and Magellan Digital Investment Group are early investors of PDAX. After seeing the ability of the Filipinos to adopt Web3 technology, Archipelago Labs was created to sustain the momentum the Philippines has created. The fund was raised to focus on sustaining that momentum and replicating the success of PDAX.
Following this belief, our fund is focused on Web3 startups focused on the Philippines. They can be a homegrown startup or a foreign startup that wants to navigate the PH market. We look into various verticals such as DeFi, NFT, infrastructure, and the Metaverse.
How large is the Filipino Web3 industry?
There is currently no data about how large the Filipino Web3 industry is. This is why the A-Labs team has been busy building the first release of our State of the Archipelago, a study that allows us to have a better understanding of Web3 in the Philippines.
With the infrastructure challenges (slow internet and legacy issues) within the market, how do you foresee it impacting growth in the industry?
The challenges of the Filipinos in the space we believe are no different from the challenges encountered by our foreign counterparts such as regulations, bad actors in the space, etc. However, we do believe this is stemming from the fact that Web3 is still a young technology where non-crypto natives are still having a difficult time defining what Web3 is about. But what’s encouraging is that despite all these, the Philippines is in the top 10 global rankings when it comes to cryptocurrency adoption and is higher than the global average when it comes to bitcoin and Ethereum ownership. Back in 2021, the surge of users on the Metamask wallet rapidly grew where the Philippines represented 20% of its monthly active users translating to 2,000,000 Filipinos. A fact that we cannot overlook, and have to build on.
Could you highlight some of the startups in the local space that you think have potential?
Archipelago Labs believes that the building blocks of Web3 are found in the Archipelago. There are several notable startups working on different sectors of interest.
First on our list is our portfolio startup, Playdex. Playdex is an NFT rental marketplace that allows gamers to rent their NFTs.
Second would be AcadArena who is building campus gaming in Southeast Asia. They leverage games to develop the next generation and shape the future of youth engagement for brands and schools.
These are just two of the few startups that offer great potential.
What’s next for Archipelago Labs?
We’re happy to share about the two projects we will be focusing on in 2023! First, is the State of the Archipelago and second is the ALAB Program.
State of the Archipelago is a research project that aims to focus on providing everyone a better picture of Web3 startups in the Philippines.
ALAB program is an 8-week accelerator program slated for 2023 that will allow startups to have access to educational content, and a demo day to present to our VC partners.