29 April 2017

The Spark Project continues to build a community of Creative Entrepreneurs

Whether we’re conscious of it or not, ideas make the world go round. Think about it. The arts and humanities are borne of concepts. Science’s biggest breakthroughs were kickstarted by several eureka moments—lightbulbs clicking into place in one’s head. The most iconic films and tunes you can think of or the beautiful literary works that have made so much of an impact all started with one’s thoughts—the creative musings that have consumed him so. Patch Dulay is well aware of this. He didn’t know it then, but circa 2009 would mark the beginning of a passion project. It would be the first step to his quest of making ideas come to reality. One step at a time, one Filipino at a time.

Photography by Zaldine Jae Alvaro
Shot on location at: Acceler8 Coworking, Tordesillas, Makati

His brainchild www.TheSparkProject.com was born at the right time in the right place. Social media was quickly beginning its ascent, start-ups were no longer alien, and  e-commerce was gaining its appeal. The Philippines began to notice the trend that was catching fire internationally and was keen on welcoming the brand new endeavors with open arms. Enter “crowdfunding”. At first glance, one would be suspicious of the whole concept. But you would be surprised how the culture of crowdfunding is not really all that new to us. We do it when we pull for the bill (the infamous KKB) with the barkada on a weekend hangout. We do it when we raise funds for charity. The concept of formal crowdfunding deals with exactly the same get-go, but leverages on web technologies. And The Spark Project is here to change your perception on the concept and, while they’re at it, seeks to build a growing community of creative entrepreneurs.

The Spark Project moonlights as an avenue for local products to come to fruition, a safe haven for homegrown "aha" moments to reach their end goal, and a platform where innovation is made more intimate to the potential consumer. It works both ways—offline and online. Offline, TSP is heavy on cultivating the culture. They hold several regular sessions for different entities and individuals to educate them about the plausible concept and how one can benefit from such. Online, Spark is heavy on the curating and making the experience a user-friendly one. The process is as easy as logging in, creating a project page that would come out like a Facebook fan page, (thus visualizing the whole concept to your market), and setting a goal—a particular sum that would help make the project a success.

Patch explains further as he takes a sip of his morning coffee, “It’s a marketing tool for businesses that allow them to validate their idea. If they want to launch a new product and test the waters with the public, with this endeavor, they’re bound to know if their idea would fly. They could also use it for research and development or continuous improvement for their product. It’s really good for brands because it allows them to hype their product, and at the same time, they’re simultaneously raising funds. Even after the campaign is over, you get the exposure that you need. It’s a good way to jumpstart your business and it’s not an expensive way to do it”.

There’s a common thread that belies the community their team helped start. One is the fact that it sets the “Love Local” movement into motion. Another is the fact that ingenuity comes naturally to these folks—almost as if it’s a pulsing thread that make up their DNA. They’re dreamers empowered to make it happen for themselves. In the same breath, the feeling of empowerment is even stronger as they get to virtually tap into people who have the same wavelength as theirs, believe in what they do, and are willing to support them all the way.

And the success stories just keep coming. Nipa Brew’s is one for the books. They’ve come a long way from introducing their first flavor online to expanding to a full-fledged line—four, to be exact—of craft beers. The GOUACHE is also a true blue crowdfunding baby. From the concept of camera bags launched via The Spark Project, the brand now proudly carries several meticulously handcrafted waxed-canvas bags for the urban chic. Patch even got his personal project in the pipeline, the Obrano Minimalist—heritage wallets that allow you to make room for the meaningful. “I built my own leather engraved brand and I wanted to launch it through crowdfunding. We were able to raise a lot—three times more than what we set for. We ended the project with 200K with only an initial goal of 60K. It’s a way for us to get pre-orders of the wallet so we were able to produce the first batch, move our staff, and have enough money to make the business continuously work,” he shares. Not to mention a number of purposeful cause-oriented projects that made its debut on the site as well.

Now on its fifth year, The Spark Project shows no signs of slowing down. 2017 is a year centered on celebration and giving back. Aside from spreading out more sessions all over different parts of the Metro, the highlight is the Spark Festival happening in June. The festival will be a gathering of The Spark Project’s alumni, of creative people and doers, and of change makers in the local entrepreneurship landscape. The most interesting aspect of the festival perhaps is the fashion to which it attributes itself to—going back to its roots as they managed to raise a sum almost more than half of their working goal through crowdfunding via their website. Though still in its infancy stage, The Spark Project’s potential to up the ante of the Filipino’s flair for ideas shine brightest.

As the last few drips of coffee drains from the cup, the sun’s presence grows as it draws back the remnants of the morning and prepares for the onset of the afternoon. Our conversation draws to a close and Patch couldn't have summed things up better, “We always believe that Filipinos have the capacity to create really good things, world-class things. Sometimes, we just don’t embrace it. More often than not, we are the last people to believe in what we can do, right? But really, we just have to believe in ourselves and execute. For us in The Spark Project, we want to be able to nurture that kind of creative culture. If you have an idea, if you have a business, and love local, we can help connect you with the right people. Creative entrepreneurship is what we stand for."


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