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Dealstreet Asia


After a year of product development, Philippine tech startup PortfolioMNL  is launching a platform to host the country’s largest community of creative professionals.

PortfolioMNL CEO and co-founder Rina Malonzo, in an interaction with DEALSTREETASIA, not only gave a detailed background of the company but also revealed updates in implementing their business plans, as well as prospects in the Philippine startup space.

Edited excerpts:

What is PortfolioMNL and how did it started?

PortfolioMNL is a niche online platform for Filipino creative professionals founded by me (Rina) and fellow graphic designer Trina Dela Rama. Only a year into its launch, our startup has already attracted architects, writers, photographers, designers, animators, and more from across the Philippines.

PortfolioMNL offers a marketplace for two target user groups: creative professionals and the employers looking to hire them. Against existing employment platforms, PortfolioMNL opens up the market beyond full-time placement to include freelance, project, and internship opportunities. Multimedia portfolios are free for creative students and professionals to avail, and free for employers to preview. Alternatively, PortfolioMNL offers a range of prepaid and corporate packages for employers to post job listings.

The idea for PortfolioMNL came about when I decided to move to the Philippines and start a branding studio with Trina. Our search for other designers relied heavily on word-of-mouth recommendations, which often led to inaccurate hiring. Frustrated that we could not find the talent we knew existed, we founded PortfolioMNL.

One of PortfolioMNL’s primary goals is to provide visibility to creative talent, while creating hiring efficiency for employers interested in outsourcing to this niche talent pool.

How many investors does your company have? How do you plan to use the invested funds?

PortfolioMNL won a place in the first ever Startup Competition hosted by Philippine-based incubator and accelerator IdeaSpace Foundation Inc in 2013. Early-stage funding was primarily allocated for product development.

The year 2014 has seen a shift in our focus: from developing our product to finding, engaging with, and connecting creative talent and creative industries, which traditionally operate independently from one another. In building the country’s largest, most diverse community of creative professionals – across industries and experience levels – we will influence how creativity is valued and facilitate innovation on a national level.

What are the latest deals your company is engaged in?

We spent the last year building formal partnerships with schools and professional creative organisations across the Philippines. We are currently working with their leadership to develop their members’ and graduates’ online presence. We are very excited to launch our network to employers. Our target date is March 1, 2015.

What is unique with PortfolioMNL?

Most employers recruit from a pool of preferred schools, often influenced by proximity. With our network, companies can recruit from schools around the country alleviating the burden of travel cost and time, and the risk of producing zero results. In addition, professional creative organizations will function as professional accrediting bodies that can provide licensed creative talent.

How do you see the creative industry?

In the Philippines, as well as many parts of Southeast Asia, the creative economy is largely untapped and disorganized. Yet the demand for creative talent is unquestionable, specifically in the growth industries of animation, film, gaming, and industrial design. Based on the EIRA Research Project Report in 2012, the East Asia and ASEAN Region audiovisual content industry alone has the potential to reach $257 billion.

What do you expect of the startup space in the Philippines this year and beyond?

We see more and more female CEOs and COOs at the helm: Facebook, IBM, HP to name a few.

We look forward to seeing the number of female Filipino startup founders grow. They will undoubtedly contribute a different type of lens for startup solutions.

What do you think is the right attitude for a startup founder?

Startup founders have to be comfortable with the unknown. There are countless hurdles, blind spots, and risks to take. If you can’t stomach uncertainty, then a startup will leave you with endless sleepless nights.

Embrace the challenges of having low funds. It forces you to come up with clever and tightly executed strategies. It’s the best fodder for sparking creative solutions.




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