THE PANDEMIC and its restrictions do not hinder innovative ideas. Despite the uncertainties of current time, business reality TV show The Final Pitch is returning for a seventh season on CNN Philippines.
With the theme “Virtual Edition,” the show will see aspiring entrepreneurs and startups pitching their innovative ideas to a panel of investors who are looking to fund and back their initiatives.
“We really wanted to make a statement with this season. When we first heard of the Delta variant, we were so worried because we know that there was a big chance that we would not be able to mount another season. But Pinoys are very creative, so we thought let’s just try to find a way to be able to do this safely,” The Final Pitch creator and host John Aguilar said at an online press conference on Sept. 7.
This year’s investor-judges are Dennis H. Uy, Chief Executive Officer of Converge ICT Solutions; Ricky Villarante, Chairman and CEO of 8Ventures; Rose Ong, Senior Executive Vice-President and COO of Wilcon Depot; David Almirol, Founder and CEO of Multisys Technologies Corp.; and Cauayan City Mayor Bernard Dy.
During the press conference, the investor-judges explained what they are on the lookout for and how they can help the aspiring entrepreneurs.
Wilcon Depot’s Ms. Ong hopes to help by providing access to the market to entrepreneurs with innovative products for home use since “everybody is centered in the home” due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) lockdowns.
“I’m looking for unique innovative ideas and someone who can present to me a product that I can sell in the store,” Ms. Ong said.
Converge ICT Solutions’ Mr. Uy is looking forward to helping startups focus on technology that aims to provide convenience to the consumers.
“I’m on the lookout for those who can use technology to uplift the lives of others,” he said.
“The cryptocurrency market is very new. It’s a new financial market which startups can also tap. They can easily create a valuable product that they can offer right away,” 8Ventures’ Mr. Villarante said. “I’m also looking for startups that have a great team. We can work on a great idea so long as the team is great.”
Multisys Technologies Corp.’s Mr. Almirol is looking forward to contributing their experiences in developing their products and services.
“We hope to be able to share our experiences [that] we went through as a startup… It’s not just about success stories,” Mr. Almirol said in English and Filipino.
“We’re looking for techno-preneurs. I call them the technology gap fillers,” he said. “We need integrators, we need innovators, we need new ideas. And I think because of the pandemic, we need to discover more startups in filling up gaps in technology.”
Meanwhile, Cauayan City Mayor Dy admitted to hesitating when asked to participate because “people might raise eyebrows” over a city mayor joining the jury, but he accepted the offer because “finding sustainable solutions” will also be a focus on the show.
“Since my term in office, we’ve been trying to find sustainable solutions [for cities]. We want to collaborate in government. We really want to engage [with the] private sector.”
The new season will be a hybrid setup where the show’s investor-judges will virtually interact with the contestants as they pitch their businesses at The Final Pitch studios.
All contestants will go through a virtual business mentorship with Dean Bernales, managing director of Uniquecorn Strategies; Patt Soyao, managing director of Icon Executive Search; and Hiyasmin Neri-Soyao, managing director of Shoppertainment Live.
Aside from providing opportunity and funding for entrepreneurs and startups, Mr. Aguilar says that the show provides a focus on nation rebuilding this season.
“Before, we used to always emphasize nation-building, but with the challenges we continue to face, we realize that it is first and foremost a collective nation rebuilding effort. That’s the focus of this season — to give a break to these entrepreneurs and introduce them to the right people who may be in a position to help them, whether it’s through funding, resources, or network,” Mr. Aguilar said.
In the following seasons, Mr. Aguilar said that they plan to include pitches within the ASEAN region.
“It will be a way for scale-up entrepreneurs to be able to scale to these different countries also,” he said.
The Final Pitch Season 7 premieres on CNN Philippines in October.
To join The Final Pitch, applicants have to fill out and submit an online entry form through thefinalpitch.ph/application via its official website, www.TheFinalPitch.ph. The deadline for submission of applications is on Sept. 17. Filming begins on Sept. 24. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman