AIM-MSIB Students Score Top Spots in Cerebro Startup Challenge 2018

• Having qualified for Cerebro Lab’s Incubation Program, four teams from the Asian Institute of Management’s Master of Science in Innovation in Business Class of 2018 received PHP 60,000 each.
• Two of these teams qualified for the investment round and each received PHP500,000 along with PHP 1 million worth of support services.
• Students’ prototypes include a web-based solution for healthcare services, an ERP system for law firms, a personal event management app, and a wearable device to translate speech into text or sign language

Two teams from the Master of Science in Innovation in Business (MSIB) Class of 2018 at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) made it to the top three of the Cerebro Labs Startup Challenge 2018 organized by the eponymous Makati-based incubator and accelerator.

The MSIB program’s Team Admit and Team Omnibus were among the 3 teams to receive an investment of P500,000 each and the privilege of entering Cerebro Lab’s Incubation Program. Incubation in Cerebro comes with intensive training and mentoring, where close to PHP 1 million worth of support services will be provided.

Two other teams from AIM also made it to the Top 10, namely Team Eve and Team Spign. “Out of the hundreds that applied, four teams from AIM made it to the final selection. This is indicative of the caliber of training AIM students receive. More importantly, it speaks to the unique ability of today’s youth to home in on the most pressing business and social problems, and find creative solutions, and most importantly implement them,” said their program mentor Professor Matthew Escobido of the Department of Analytics, Information, and Operations at AIM.

App for healthcare professionals and patients
For Team Admit, comprising Neil Lomibao and Marj Santillan, winning the Cerebro Startup Challenge was a chance to use their MSIB training from AIM to address an unmet need. They believe that joining the competition was not only about getting their product off the ground but also making a positive impact on society.

According to Lomibao, as a pharmacist, he was already trained in applying a community, research-oriented approach to serving the underserved. The MSIB program, however, “enabled me to deep-dive and discover more opportunities to help society and implement solutions with the help of a very supportive AIM community; [and] to become the change-maker I want to see.”

Their prototype ADMIT is an app that enables patients, healthcare professionals, and health institutions to view available services, perform online booking, offer clients alternative services, make online referrals, and serve as a marketing tool for hospitals and clinics to reach more clients.

Teammate Marj Santillan echoed Lomibao’s sentiment. She said, coming from a technological background, she entered the MSIB program to gain more business knowledge and become a technopreneur.

“Apart from in-depth class discussions with world-class professors, we were exposed to extensive fieldwork,” said Santillan, adding that their class was “given access to networks and opportunities that helped make their innovations come to life.”

Cloud-based platform for legal practitioners
John Mark Herrera and Mark Paolo Navata of Team Omnibus sought to leverage data and utilize cutting-edge technologies. Their prototype Omnibus is a cloud-based management solution platform for legal practitioners. It provides integrated modules including calendar, document management, billing and expense, timesheet and digital collaboration tools, and utilizes advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics.
Herrera and Navata attribute their training at AIM for taking them to the point where they could develop this novel concept. AIM’s MSIB program equips individuals with a science, technology, engineering, agriculture, architecture, mathematics, and medicine (STEAM) background with the fundamentals of business, design, and leadership through team-based innovation projects.

Said Navata, “There are limits to what a typical STEAM graduate can do. The MSIB program has provided me with world-class education and mentors, leadership training, and extraordinary opportunities, which all have encouraged me to move past those limits. While success is normally elusive for startups, I believe that it is within arms’ reach with MSIB.”

Herrera, for his part, said studying at AIM placed him in a vibrant network of like-minded innovators. “The program sharpened my skills and boosted my potential as a product developer. It pushed me to see different perspectives and bridge my theories into real-life applications.”

AIM stands out in Cerebro Start up Challenge’s Top 10
Also in the Top 10 are Team Eve led by Cam Ang and Jana Velilla; and Team Spign headed by Edward Apigo and Aliyuslita from Indonesia.

Eve is a personal event planner application, which connects suppliers to consumers, and allows the users to organize an event with a tap of a button. Meanwhile, Spign is a wearable device that translates spoken voice and lip movement to text and sign language, and also converts sign language to text and synthesized spoken voice.

“The competition was tough,” Escobido pointed out. “Our four teams were pitted against six other startups that had compelling prospects, so getting to the next round was a validation of their market potential, product feasibility and business viability.”

Just halfway through the MSIB program, AIM has already helped 10 students out of the current batch of 22 get initial funding for their projects: 8 students via the Cerebro Labs Startup Challenge and 2 students through the IdeaSpace Startup competition. Class of 2018 is likely to repeat the success of the pioneer MSIB batch.

Setting the bar high for future MSIB alumnae
When AIM graduated its first batch of MSIB students in 2017, it was clear they were destined for great things, given that they had already attracted investors even before they finished the program. AIM’s pioneer MSIB batch received a total of PHP 2.5 million in seed funding; most of it courtesy of the capstone project – equivalent of a thesis – called StudyPlay, which has received a total investment offer of PHP 2 million to date.

Of the 21 students in the first batch, 15 have received awards from national and international competitions, including the EWS Innovation Olympics 2017, UN Breakthrough Innovation Challenge 2017, International Youth Forum on Innovation 2017, UNDP Youth Co: Lab Summit, and the Re.A.Pra Case Competition.

A number of students from MSIB Class of 2017 have already gotten their businesses off the ground. Startups like StudyPlay and EngageMed were incorporated under Kezar Innovations in Singapore. AroogaHealth and AgriViz have become part of the startup community of QBO Innovation Hub.

Majority of MSIB Class of 2017 have either received multiple job offers before graduation, or signed employment contracts with significant multipliers to their previous salaries.

“The MSIB program is all about enhancing innovative capacity. Whether you are joining the corporate world or starting your own, innovations will spell the difference between success and failure. The students do not just talk about problems, they actually create products and services that solve these problems,” said Professor Escobido. “I am proud of how our students were able to succeed in turning their product solutions into reality, and then attract and convince investors to join them in advancing their innovations.”

For more information on AIM MSIB, visit

AIM-MSIB Students Score Top Spots in Cerebro Startup Challenge 2018 1

Photo 1: Neil Lomibao (rightmost) and Marj Santillan together with their Cerebro Startup Challenge mentors Dr. Kenneth Hartigan-Go and Matthew Escobido, and Cerebro Labs CEO Peter Abaya

AIM-MSIB Students Score Top Spots in Cerebro Startup Challenge 2018 2

Photo 2: Neil Lomibao of Team Admit and John Mak Herrera of Team Omnibus hoist checks amounting to 500,000 pesos as their respective team lands top spots in Cerebro Startup Challenge 2018

AIM-MSIB Students Score Top Spots in Cerebro Startup Challenge 2018 3

Photo 3: Team Admit’s Marj Santillan and Neil Lomibao proudly show their trophy and check for their winning healthcare app

AIM-MSIB Students Score Top Spots in Cerebro Startup Challenge 2018 4

Photo 4:Team Omnibus’ Mark Paolo Navata and John Mark Herrera happily receive their trophy and a check worth 500,000 pesos for their cloud-based management solution platform for legal practitioners