The digital search for the most creative, most innovative and most successful new breed of small to medium entrepreneurs (SMEs) has come to a close, and PLDT Smart SME Nation finally announced the highly anticipated first batch of winners for the first ever Bozz Awards. Bozz Awards is the first social media crowdsourcing search for the new generation of entrepreneurs who are harnessing digital tools to grow their businesses.
In partnership with Rappler, Voyager, Ideaspace, Bloomberg Philippines, Uber, Takatack and Airbnb, it was established to recognize SMEs who have displayed excellence in technological innovation and digital integration. In the long run, it aims to highlight the crucial role of digital technology in supporting the growth and sustainability of small businesses in the country.
“We’re ecstatic at the enthusiastic reception we got from the SME and digital communities,” FVP and PLDT Smart SME Nation Head Kat Luna-Abelarde said. “We exceeded our expected number of nominations by almost 150 percent and we’ve seen some really inspiring stories of digitally powered business success. Digital truly is the future, and this is a resounding testament to that.”
From hundreds of nominees, the list was down to the top 15, with three nominees for each of the five categories—Boss for Mobile Readiness, Boss for E-commerce, Boss for Social Responsibility, Boss for Social Media and Boss for Customer Service.
The Boss for Mobile Readiness is the one who makes their product or service accessible anytime or anywhere. MobKard’s Carlo Calimon emerged as the winner of this category. MobKard is a mobile application that allows customers to receive exclusive promos in real time as they approach a store or a restaurant. It digitizes and converts traditional plastic privilege cards so merchants can create flash sales in store.
The Boss for E-commerce successfully maximizes the Internet as the world’s largest marketplace and Kimstore’s Kim Lato proved to be the one who best exemplifies this. Kimstore is a name synonymous to online tech and gadget shopping. A pioneer of e-commerce in the Philippines, Kimstore is known for its commitment to safe and trustworthy online shopping of gadgets including notebooks, tablets, PCs, cameras, gaming consoles and of course, mobile phones.
The Boss for Social Responsibility is the one who effectively harnesses the power of technology for a notable cause. The honor of being the first ever Bozz awardee under this category went to Messy Bessy’s Kristine Reyes-Lopez. Messy Bessy Cleaners, Inc. produces and sells cleaning and personal care items made from biodegradable, non-toxic and all-natural materials. They operate with project HOUSE—Helping Ourselves through Sustainable Enterprises—which is a group of enterprises that employs and educates formerly abused, jailed and trafficked young adults.
The Boss for Social Media utilizes social media platforms to create meaningful connections with customers and grow an online community of brand advocates which is what renowned wedding videographer Jason Magbanua has been doing for the past decade. Known as the “holy grail of wedding videographers,” Magbanua is one of the most in-demand wedding videographers in the country. He pioneered the “same-day-edit” videos, and his creations are popular on social media sites.
The Boss for Customer Service uses digital platforms to provide better service and improve their business processes. Under this category, the first ever Bozz is TimeFree Innovations founder Chino Atilano. TimeFree Innovations is a virtual queuing solutions company. It allows users to get an e-ticket through their smartphone. They then receive SMS alerts regarding their position in the queue so users don’t have to waste time waiting in line. This innovation helps companies improve their customer service and build brand loyalty.
In addition to the results of the public voting, each nominee was assessed by a panel of judges based on promising entrepreneurial journey (20%), market/brand affinity (20%), integration of technology to business (30%), and product/service innovation (30%).
The five winners each received a full-powered Smart Enterprise Biz Kit which consists of business-enhancing tools and gadgets, including year-long data subscription, to help keep them always connected to their customers and updated with their operations, even while on the go.
They will also be given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the world’s melting pot of technology via a Silicon Valley tour. As a final twist, PLDT Smart SME Nation announced that the other 10 finalists will also join the exclusive tour.
According to Abelarde, today’s technology-driven lifestyle demands SMEs to explore mobile and online opportunities to remain relevant to a digitally savvy market. It is PLDT Smart SME Nation’s mission to provide entrepreneurs with tools and solutions to enable them to flourish online and reach markets they wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach offline.
“This is just the beginning of our efforts to help and encourage more Filipino SMEs to embrace digital platforms,” she added. “We hope that this new breed of industry movers and shakers will inspire other SMEs to embrace technology driven platforms and become digital.”
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