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Book shares start-up success stories for youth to emulate

Gracy Fernandez, coauthor of Asian Founders at Work

Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention.

The current pandemic has forced companies, including start-ups, to look for ways to maximize results with scare resources. A key element for the survival of businesses in the new normal, according to Gracy Fernandez, is technology.

Fernandez is a coauthor of the book Asian Founders at Work. Along with Ezra Ferraz, she interviewed people who started their companies with the goal of addressing a problem that the world of analog and tradition could not fulfill.

One of featured subjects is Winston Damarillo, CEO and founder of GlueCode. Damarillo is a staunch advocate of inclusivity in technology who wanted to develop an alternative platform that could be used by everyone for their Internet-based transactions. Using open source technology, GlueCode broke barriers and democratized access when technology giants Oracle, Sun and IBM dominated the market.

As Asia Pacific reels from business closures and record unemployment amid the current pandemic, Fernandez stressed that start-ups have to be innovative to recover swiftly in order to find a place in the new normal. For one, given the increasing prevalence of remote work, Fernandez said digitizing operations is necessary to allow start-ups to upscale in ways that otherwise would not be possible. Furthermore, with the new normal mainly relying on technology as a primary link to the world, she emphasized that it is necessary for professionals to upskill and adapt in order to safeguard and grow their careers in an increasingly digital world.

“Innovation is crucial at a time like this,” said Fernandez, who is a regular contributor to business and finance media outlets Entrepreneur Asia Pacific and KitaMo. “With the recession drawing near, these stories need to be heard and studied perhaps more than ever before.”

Fernandez is a start-up founder herself, having established the venture-backed car rental platform Graventure. The company centralizes tens of thousands of listings onto a one-stop, online platform that connects car rental agencies to consumers.

More stories of innovation and perseverance from start-ups are featured in Fernandez and Ferraz’s book, which is a compilation of exclusive one-on-one interviews with founders of some of Asia’s largest tech companies. Among the featured groups are Carousell, e27, GoJek, Lalamove, ONE Championship and Rappler.

Fernandez and Ferraz urged young people to read the book for insights on how businesses manage to stay afloat by taking heed of what some of the most innovative companies did right. “It’s worth noting that this book is not solely aimed at tech leaders,” said Ferraz, who is also the managing partner of Ambidextr, a tech-focused digital marketing agency. “Whether your business is corporate, small business, or social enterprise, there is always something to be picked up from how the largest tech companies managed to make it big. Growth during the recession may be challenging, but it is achievable with the right knowledge.”

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