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Centralized organizational structure key to Kezar’s quick rise in startup scene

Kezar team with co-founders Edward Solicito (second from left) and Paul Galacan (fourth from left).

Singapore is one of the most startup-friendly countries in the region with investors actively looking for the brightest idea to support. This is just one of the many reasons, Kezar Innovations (Kezar) chose to set up its base there even if most of its operations are happening in the Philippines.

The company’s quick rise to becoming one of the most-talked-about startups in 2018 can be attributed to the talks of economics. From designing apps, Kezar now runs several businesses under an umbrella company. These services include 3D printing, providing software requirements to startups and corporates, among others. Instead of incorporating one company for each service, Kezar centralized the resources which then led to a huge amount of savings in manpower and overhead costs.

Fate brought co-founders, Edward Solicito and Paul Galacan as part of the pioneering batch of the Masters of Science in Innovation and Business (MSIB) at the Asian Institute of Management. Solicito graduated from the First Asia Institute of Technology with a degree in Industrial Engineering and Humanities while Galacan graduated from Mapúa Institute of Technology with a degree in Civil Engineering.

Solicito’s StudyPlay, an educational app, immediately earned a funder and qualified for the pre-seed amount of P800,000 from two angel investors. For an “institution-wide” project, Solicito partnered with Galacan for the Tourism Challenge of AIM’s Center for Tourism. Takaro: Sustainable Travels earned a grant of P150,000 to pursue the startup.

Choices

When faced in making a choice, the two startups each has its unique propositions and it would be a waste to discontinue one in favor of another. But the overhead and operational costs were not feasible at that time.

Why not create an umbrella company that can help run both startups at a centralized cost? Kezar Innovations is a design and development firm that can run not just two but multiple startups.

Manufacturing 3-D printed StudyPlay toys through third-party suppliers presented another obstacle in terms of cost. To minimize the expenses and to keep the expenditures within the same ecosystem, the founders created Kezar3D.

The group decided to start their own 3D printing services and manufacturing startup. Kezar3D is now considered to be South Luzon’s largest 3D printing startup. This move also made 3D printing accessible to engineers.

Meanwhile, Trakaro’s mobile app development team saw the potential of their capabilities and skill sets, further validating this through creating another in-house mobile application, Leggo. Leggo is a scheduling app that was created in order to sync calendars and make coordination easier among peers for plans and other get-togethers. Kezar Atlas Technologies was another arm of the expansion of the Kezar group, catering to the software requirements of startups and corporate partners alike.

With all this happening at the same time, and even if the company proved that investment continues to flow, it still saw the need to base its headquarters in Singapore. The firm said it is very much beneficial for both the investors and the companies to incorporate the business there so that they are in a good position, especially during the funding rounds. Given that all of Kezar’s services are not confined to one specific territory, “Singapore opens a lot of doors toward getting international traction.”

Funding

Initially, Kezar had only $3,000 (or P150,000) worth of funding but it was able to raise almost $115,000 (or P5.9 million) in 2018 alone or barely a year into operations. For its latest venture, Kezar Atlas Technologies, the startup up raised over $6,000 (or P3.3 million) in less than two weeks.

Kezar Atlas is a mobile application development services company. It was primarily created to support all the mobile application and software development requirements that the group has. The Atlas team started offering its services in mobile app creation to fellow Filipino startups and corporations, “promising and delivering high-quality apps in just 60 days both for iOS and Android devices.” Aside from app development, the Kezar Atlas team also offers the following services and products: Inventory Management Systems, Customer Relationship Management systems, and QR-based, terminal-free loyalty rewards cards and programs.

Kezar group is looking at securing at least almost $3,000 (or P15 million) in annual revenue through releasing StudyPlay’s new toy lines, expanding Kezar3D 3D-printing services’ reach, activating Trakaro’s monetization, and turning over 12 corporate mobile applications and software, as well as selling technology consumables, by Kezar Atlas.

The group is to be able to provide technologies for all industries in the Philippines and eventually in the Southeast Asian region.

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