Tell us a bit about yourself
I am Arnold Moralejo, a corporate lawyer and management executive, born and raised in the Philippines.
After spending more than a decade working with big, established organizations in both the public and private sectors, I decided to pursue my passion for technology and navigate the uncertain world of startups, which led me to working with Cerebro Labs and Shatter Tech. My dual role with these two companies has not only broadened my experience as a corporate lawyer, but has also given me the unique opportunity to help our local entrepreneurs through our mentorship programs.
When I am not reading through pitch decks or reviewing term sheets, I am usually busy exploring business opportunities for our portfolio companies and connecting founders with potential strategic partners.
How do you engage with startups? How do you help founders with their entrepreneurial journey?
In the early days of Cerebro Labs, I engage with startups through our incubation and acceleration programs and through events at our co-working space. Unfortunately, the pandemic has placed enormous challenges in pursuing these so my engagements are currently limited to attending pitching competitions, joining startup community events, and participating in external acceleration programs such as the Global Innovation Alliance.
As an AWS Scout, I am also able to offer certain incentives to qualified startups in our community to help them get their products off the ground through the various AWS cloud services.
What is your biggest takeaway from being a mentor on this program?
Through this program, I learned that expanding to other countries remains to be one of the biggest challenges that startups are facing. My mentoring sessions with startups on this program have highlighted the importance of having a really good and thorough market research as part of a company’s international strategy. Differences in culture, legal and political environment, geography, and economy will have a tremendous impact on the company’s entry strategy in a foreign market, and it is critical that startups know these before they decide to operate across national borders.
I admire Plug and Play’s initiative in coming up with a program that specifically addresses this challenge and for paving the way for foreign startups to have a soft landing in another country.
What do you look for in a startup? What advice do you think you can give?
In Shatter Tech, we look for startups with disruptive technology, a highly scalable business model, huge addressable market, and committed founders. We believe that, absent any one of these, a startup will not be able to achieve exponential growth, which is what matters most to venture capitalists. As investors, we would want to see our portfolio companies grow 100x within the shortest time possible. Slow and steady just will not cut it.
My advice to founders is to avoid falling in love with their product at the expense of ignoring customer feedback. A startup may have a pretty impressive product but if, for one reason or another, customers are not buying it, the business is still doomed to fail. Many startup founders commit the mistake of creating a fully-developed product without doing customer validation first, thus they end up wasting enormous resources on something that they could not sell.
What made you want to become a mentor at Plug and Play?
When I was invited to become a mentor with Plug and Play, I did not hesitate to accept it because it gave me the opportunity to contribute to the startup community on a much larger scale given the breadth of Plug and Play’s network across the globe. On the business side, becoming a mentor with Plug and Play has also given me access to potential deal flows for Shatter Tech of foreign startups that have been previously vetted by Plug and Play’s expert team.
What I love most about mentoring is the sense of fulfillment that I get whenever I have made a significant contribution to the founders by being able to connect them with the right people, be it a potential key partner or customer.
Arnold Moralejo is the CEO of Shatter Tech Venture Holdings and the Director of Legal and Investments of Cerebro Labs. He holds degrees in Bachelor of Laws (LLB) and Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA). He is our mentor for the Global Innovation Alliance program, which is a 6-week market sensing and accelerator program that aims to bring Singaporean startups offshore and into the Manila market. It aims to facilitate partnerships between the participants and key stakeholders in the Manila technology and innovation landscape.
About Shatter Tech and Cerebro Labs
Shatter Tech is a family office that invests in early-stage global startups with disruptive technologies, highly scalable business models, huge addressable markets, and committed founders. Cerebro Labs is an incubator, accelerator, and co-working space for local startups looking for mentorship, seed investment, and chic workspaces. We help startups create disruptive value propositions, come up with innovative business models, and accelerate their business growth through an array of business support services.
Interested in being one of our mentors? Join our platform here!