This is Generation T: Career Candids, a recurring article series wherein we talk with some of our Gen T 2017 Top 50 listers to find out more about their roads to success. In this exclusive interview, read all about their backgrounds, careers, struggles, high points, inisghts into the industry, and get some some excellent advice too!
Earl Martin Valencia is eager to create change in our world. He is unafraid of challenges and embraces the new. As an innovator, a disruptor and a forward thinker Valencia is known in the tech space and as a seasoned investor.
He is co founder of IdeaSpace which is designed to help start ups flourish, and now is pioneering QBO pronounced (kubo), as its founding adviser. What is it? It is the National Innovation Centre of the Philippines, which is basically our version of Silicon Valley!
QBO, connects start-ups with its 4 core pillars: IdeaSpace, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Science and Technology and JP Morgan Chase Foundation. The company was launched late 2016 and is a huge step forward for the country, contributing to a bright and exhilarating future for us all.
As of late Valencia is currently working with a company in New York that will focus on using Artificial Intelligence to map out personalities and connect them with career opportunities.
Read this one on one, exlcusive interview to learn from, and about Earl Valencia:
How and why did you decide to enter the tech and business worlds? Can you tell us a bit about your journey and how you started?
Since I was 9 or 10, science and space were my passions. I realized that being able to make science real through engineering was one way to make a difference in the world. To be honest I took up engineering since it was what most astronauts took. So I thought why not? After taking engineering and taking my MBA at Stanford, I fell in love in the application of technology and the progress it creates with and for humanity.
How did you conceptualize IdeaSpace and now QBO?
To be honest, our dream was to create a nation built on science, technology and entrepreneurship – using those as the drivers for growth and development. Ideaspace and QBO are manifestations of the common goal of our startup ecosystem - to put the Philippines on the global tech map and build a new economy.
I know you help many new business get their feet off the ground and are a seasoned investor -- what advice do you have for new investors? What do you look at and think about before deciding to work with and invest in an organization?
For new investors, take a chance on entrepreneurs, seek out if they are really passionate about the problem they are solving and if they are solving it with both heart (passion) and mind (a plan, numbers, business models). Don't just look at safe investments but find investments that could lead to progress and industry changing technologies.
How do you predict the digital/tech scene will evolve in the country, as time goes by? Do you think the Philippines is able to keep up with the global pace?
I think the digital scene is and will continue to flourish given that everyone helps each other - the government, private sector, entrepreneurs, universities… everyone.
What do you think the Philippines needs to do to be more technologically progressive?
The Philippines could use a cultural and mindset shift in order to build local, but dream global. The core values of Ideaspace when we started it are as follows: global ambition, speed of execution and frugality - all are important areas to focus on - especially global ambition. Meaning, build things that can scale and compete at a global level.
What big lessons have you learned along the way?
I've learned that opportunity happens when luck is combined with preparation. Life has a way of giving you the right challenges at the right time in life. Also remember to know your priorities - is it family? Is it career? Is it love? Know your non negotiable and it's easy to navigate your life choices this way.
What advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs and inventors?
Think of a problem at a global level. Start in the Philippines but remember that the end goal is to scale to the world. Be the ambassador of the country and show what the Philippine mind is made of.
What do you do when you feel discouraged or when you are facing a hurdle (ex. dealing with haters)?
First of all, get far far away from haters. Listening to them will not do any good to you. Second use their criticism as potential inspiration to prove them wrong, to achieve more than they can imagine. Most haters are there not because they don't like you, but they are jealous of you and your potential success. Lastly, build a support group - friends who will pull you up, who believe in you and your vision.
How do you inspire others, those who work for you?
There is only one rule in hiring for me - hire for mission first. Ask the "why" more that the what or how resume questions. Inspiration comes from within a person and it's the responsibility of a leader to find that spark in each person and help light it up for them.
How do you handle stress or fear with regards to your career? (ex. when making big decisions or risky moves)
Just say yes. Nobody knows what their future career will hold, but you know what to do right now. Say yes to that new assignment, say yes to that volunteer position, say yes to that training your boss tells you to do. You will never know unless you try, so go for it, what's the loss?
I just caveat though that the only big decision I must say that is you must take the time to think about 100x over, is the person you marry. Life is hard, so you need a partner who is not afraid to tell you the truth at all times and support you through the tough times.
Are you comfortable with public speaking? If so then what are your tips on being a good public speaker? If you get nervous when speaking publicly, how do you confront this fear?
I had a boss once that told me, you are the master of your presentation. No one else knows if you made a mistake but you. I'm lucky that I was able to practice in front of people every week as a professional in high pressure situations.
My advice - talk about something you love, you are passionate about and can talk hours on end about. The best presentations are stories so just give interesting stories about things that relate to the topic but are still close to you and yourself. Build the deck around you and your stories, with that you can deliver an awesome presentation that people will remember and relate to.