F(DEV) launches start-up portfolio geared toward underserved markets

F(DEV), a corporate-led venture builder in the Philippines, marks its first anniversary by launching its new venture portfolio targeting big gaps in the market with technology-driven business models.

As technology takes on a more pivotal role in the country’s economic recovery, the venture builder aims to introduce digital innovations and disruptive platforms to empower Filipinos and Filipino businesses toward boosting the country’s digital economy.

F(DEV), or FUNCTION DEV, is backed by the Filinvest Group of Companies established in October 2020. Its first three digital startups address gaps in the fintech and e-commerce space, with a heavy emphasis on enabling local businesses, especially the hard-hit MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enterprises), to accelerate toward a digital future.

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With MSMEs accounting for more than 99% of businesses in the country, F(DEV) believes that technology is an essential driver for recovery and growth as the country tries to bounce back from the effects of the pandemic.

F(DEV) is led by Xavier Marzan as CEO and managing director, who himself has been a startup CEO and previously led new digital product development and scale-up for two of the fintech unicorns in the region.

“Our mission at F(DEV) is to venture into technology-based businesses that serve and empower underserved markets as well as disrupt traditional industries,” Marzan said. “We have shown in the past year that we can take a startup idea from the ‘venture lab’ to market commercialization and scale-up quite rapidly and we’ve done all of this in a lockdown environment.”

Venture builder ecosystem

F(DEV)’s core team is a diversified group of seasoned entrepreneurs, product specialists, venture operators, data mavens, designers, and engineers, operating under a lean startup and innovation architecture. F(DEV) also taps on the extensive ecosystem of the Filinvest Group to support its ventures. The group has a strong presence in several industries, including banking and finance, real estate, hospitality, F&B, infrastructure, energy, and technology. By mobilizing its team in an ecosystem, fueled by its startup DNA, the venture builder is able to accelerate time-to-market for its startups before opening them up to the broader market.

The team is also exploring strategic investment opportunities in other startups that have disruptive business models to solve real-world problems and uplift the country’s digital economy at scale.

Portfolio of digital businesses

Although still very young in the industry, F(DEV) is already supporting a growing list of digital startups with a combined mission of serving underserved segments and transforming brick-and-mortar industries with technology-based business models. For the past year, the venture builder identified key market gaps and executed these opportunities. In its portfolio today, the F(DEV) team launched the following:

  • Investree Philippines, the country’s very first SEC licensed crowdfunding platform, has already provided more than P100 million in financing to local MSMEs on its platform. It aims to address the P11 trillion MSME credit gap in the country;
  • Qwote, a B2B e-commerce startup that seeks to disrupt the buying experience for businesses and make it extremely easy. Today, the Qwote platform already has more than 30,000 product listings and close to a thousand suppliers, providing goods and services to a fast-growing network of multinational and local corporate brands such as Amazon and Toyota;
  • Fastwire, a new innovative Software as a Service (SaaS) solution that aims to make financial transactions smooth and simple for businesses;
  • The team also supports its various group ecosystem ventures including Komo, the first exclusively digital banking service to be offered by a local bank, and a soon-to-be-launched digital service by the group’s hospitality unit.

“We believe that the Philippines needs more startups to drive innovation and growth in the digital economy,” Marzan said. “Growth in the digital economy means a stronger Philippines in a regional and global landscape.”