Have you ever thought of building a successful tech startup company that could positively impact the Philippines or even the whole world?
When you think of major tech companies all around the world like Amazon or Tesla, it gets you thinking that it’s important to have a technology degree or background in order to launch a successful startup. After all, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has Bachelor of Science degrees in electrical engineering and computer science, while Elon Musk of Tesla has undergraduate degrees in physics and economics. Even in a local context, Robertson Chiang, founder of an online payment service provider, has a degree in computer science.
Are you a budding designer, economist, or physical therapist, who’s working a way to disrupt your respective industries industry through tech? If you’re a student who didn’t take the ICT or STEM strand, or even a technology-related course, what are the chances of successfully launching a tech startup? Here’s some good news for you: most top Philippine startup founders did not study tech for their university education!
Challenging the Status Quo
The iPrice Group conducted a study on the educational background of top Philippine startup founders and concluded that the 2 most common majors that startup founders took up are in the field of business (32%) and social sciences (28%). Tech and engineering are tied on 3rd place with 12.5% each.
There are a handful of founders in the Philippines with no educational background in tech:
- Paul Rivera, founder of Kalibrr, with a Political Economy of Industrial Societies degree
- Ronald Magleo, Esther Magleo, Mylene Chua Magleo, founders of Paynamics, with degrees in Entrepreneurship and Accountancy
- Henry Motte-Munoz, co-founder of Edukasyon.ph, with an Economics degree and an MBA
- Miguel Perez, founder of Ayannah, with a Management and Development Studies degree
On top of that, here are some non-tech founders that have successfully launched a tech startup:
- Brian Chesky, founder of Airbnb, design degree
- Uri Levine, co-founder of Waze, economics degree
- Chad Hurley, co-founder of YouTube, fine arts degree
A Clarity of Why
Now that there’s proof that you don’t necessarily need a tech education to build a successful tech startup, what do successful founders have in common, really?
Tech startup founders are impassioned with finding tech-oriented solutions to a problem worth solving. Jay-Z (re)launched Tidal because as an artist, he wanted to give songwriters and artists the royalties they deserved. He used his network and passion for music as his leverage to solve this problem.
Paul Rivera discovered a problem in the hiring process and sourcing of employees while running his old BPO company, which prompted him to solve this problem by starting Kalibrr. He wanted to disrupt the way companies hire and discover talent online through machine learning and analytics.
What do you really need in order to be a founder of a tech startup? Founder-CEOs, despite not having the desire to write lines of code, need to have a full understanding of the technology their company is using. This goes without saying that you somehow need to learn the basics of how to write code. You don’t have to be better than your developers in writing code, but you have
to double down on your other skills—like leadership and team management—to better manage your vision.
Simply put, being a tech startup founder essentially need these things (and none of them involve having a tech degree): a contagious passion to solve a problem, belief that they can keep their company afloat with the skills they have and will acquire, and a team who shares the same vision and passion as you—whether you’re a nursing student, an arts major, or an accountant.