Technology

Startup heroes wanted: ‘The Final Pitch’ vs COVID-19

The Final Pitch’ creator and host John Aguilar is optimistic that startup heroes will rise to the occasion.

In the sixth season of “The Final Pitch“, the Philippines’ first business reality TV show, you can be startup heroes. Forever and ever.

“The Final Pitch: Heroes Edition” calls for startups to pitch and investors to back COVID-19 response solutions. The goal is to fund efforts dedicated to frontliners and different communities in need. The show will bring together entrepreneurs, startups, and innovators who can present solutions to help the Philippines bounce back. To ensure the safety of cast and crew, the live pitching will observe protocols and social distancing, utilizing technology to limit direct interaction.

Search for startup heroes

Looking for startup heroes. John Aguilar with his wife Monica, who is the co-executive producer of 'The Final Pitch'.
John Aguilar with his wife Monica, who is the co-executive producer of ‘The Final Pitch’.

“We will take the lead from various agencies who are currently coming up with the protocols for businesses in general, and for the media/entertainment industries in particular. But we are being proactive in trying to imagine a new way of doing things where we will combine in-person and virtual filming for this particular series. We’ve never done this before and it will be exciting to see how we’ll be able to create a TV show that is also a live online broadcast,” John Aguilar, the serial entrepreneur creator and host of “The Final Pitch”, told Digital Life Asia.

Aguilar said the target is to film “The Final Pitch: Heroes Edition” by the third quarter. They will broadcast it live online, and edit it as a 13-episode, 30-minute reality show on CNN Philippines. Invited organizations who will view the taping online will also be able to make their own donations.

Acts of kindness

How did the idea for this edition come about? Aguilar said the pandemic caught them flatfooted. Originally, the sixth season was going to be an open edition with no theme.

“When the pandemic was evident, we were, like everyone else, left in limbo. We didn’t know what to do or how to move forward. Two weeks into the quarantine I got inspired by the acts of kindness and generosity of people I would see on my social media feeds.

“Closer to home, my wife and business partner Monica was aggregating funds and organizing for PPEs (personal protective equipment) to be brought to different hospitals in Quezon City. A lightbulb moment soon made itself apparent. We produce ‘The Final Pitch’–why don’t we pivot it to a season that would aggregate funds for good causes? More than that, we need to also fund innovations that would help us as we are ushered into our new normal,”Aguilar said.

Business impact of COVID-19

The sixth season will be different from previous editions of 'The Final Pitch', to observe safety protocols and social distancing.
The sixth season will be different from previous editions of ‘The Final Pitch’, to observe safety protocols and social distancing.

The business disruption has been particularly hard for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Around 99.6% of businesses in the country are SMEs, employing 66% of the workforce.

“The pandemic’s impact on every facet of our lives is undeniable. From a business standpoint, this extinction event will weed out thousands of SMEs. But it will also usher in the next generation of exponential entrepreneurs. Some are being formed as we speak. Hundreds of startups are finding ways to pivot to address every need they can imagine. The ones who will create a product or service that people now don’t even know they need, those are the crazy ones that will be the next tycoons and business leaders of the coming decades,” Aguilar said.

Pitches for donations and grants must come from reputable organizations that have a specific ask for beneficiary communities. Meanwhile, pitches for investments must come from entrepreneurs, inventors and startups, and provide solutions and technologies for the country’s transition to the new normal. Sample target sectors include retail, transport, and tourism. Aguilar said that ideas for employment of both locals and displaced OFWs, and business solutions for MSMEs are also welcome.

Surviving in the new normal

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world, and businesses will need to adapt to the new normal.

What role is the online community playing in helping business owners cope with this pandemic?

“When you say online community, you are actually talking about the majority of our population already. So in a lot of ways we have collectively uploaded our consciousness online–our fears, thoughts, wants. Our online lives and the communities we form say a lot about how well we can cope with our current challenges. There’s this saying that you are the five people you spend the most time with. In our online lives, how we cope can be greatly affected by the communities we’re part of, the sources of our news and information, and how we engage other people,” Aguilar said.

The challenges are certainly daunting. Aguilar, however, is optimistic that humanity will be able to build a better post-pandemic world.

“Filipinos are some of the most creative and resilient people in the world. We’ve seen how people from all walks of life have come together to fight this war. With everything we’ve learned from history and with our collective efforts to rise from this unprecedented global challenge, I believe this can potentially be humanity’s finest hour,” he said.

Want to help the country bounce back from this crisis? “The Final Pitch” is now accepting applications. Submit online entries and one-minute pitch videos via TheFinalPitch.ph/application.

Now is your chance to become startup heroes.