The Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2022 has concluded its search for the country’s most undaunted and unstoppable entrepreneurs. Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines is a program of the SGV Foundation, Inc., with the participation of co-presenters the Asian Institute of Management, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Philippine Business for Social Progress, and the Philippine Stock Exchange. BusinessWorld will feature each finalist for the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2022 ahead of the awards ceremony on Nov. 21.
AS A CHILD, Dennis Anthony H. Uy migrated from China to Pampanga with his parents and siblings. Working for his uncle’s business, Mr. Uy was exposed to entrepreneurship and discovered his passion for technology at a young age as he recalled repairing all sorts of electrical devices. In high school, he took vocational courses after school hours to learn more about hardware and electronics, and eventually studied programming at a computer school.
This passion for technology and entrepreneurship compelled him to establish Converge ICT Solutions, Inc. (Converge), which has been recognized as the fastest-growing fiber internet service provider in the Philippines by the International Finance Awards.
Mr. Uy’s first ventures as an entrepreneur involved selling and renting out Betamax tapes; and reselling computers such as IBM system mainframes. When computers became commoditized, he saw the speed at which technology was evolving and this inspired him to shift gears and start going into networking products. This involved installing Sun Microsystems servers for niche markets such as banking, government usage, and multinational companies.
Realizing that Betamax tapes were a sunset industry, Mr. Uy closed his shop and started the first cable TV service provider in Angeles City called Angeles City Cable Television Network (ACCTN). Groundwork for ACCTN was just starting when Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991.
Instead of fleeing the city, Mr. Uy was determined to pursue the cable business. He set up his company’s office and cable TV network control center in his parents’ home. His first big project came when ACCTN started providing cable TV for the Mimosa Leisure Estate.
“We provided news and public affairs, which was important to the citizens recovering from the effects of the Pinatubo eruption,” he said. While other cable companies were using analog set-top boxes, ACCTN offered digital cable boxes.
Always trying to be one step ahead of the competition, Mr. Uy introduced another innovation to his clients, establishing internet service provider ComClark Network and Technology Corp. ComClark offered dial-up internet service, and this was followed by the launch of Instanet, a prepaid internet card. ComClark gradually expanded its customer base and suite of services, and it evolved into Converge in 2007.
Even though Converge had already established its network in Central Luzon, Mr. Uy set his sights on Metro Manila.
“At first, I was hesitant. You need to have a strong foundation or else you will fail,” he said. Because of his expertise and reputation with technology, he got his break when he landed a deal to help Destiny Cable organize and optimize their cable internet. The revenue share he got from Destiny allowed Converge to start doing business in Metro Manila.
Through international trade shows abroad, Mr. Uy noticed the whole country was behind in terms of internet infrastructure. “We had the most expensive and slowest internet in Asia,” he said. “It was about time we needed to change.”
He researched how to implement the use of fiber optics and micro-trenching to facilitate the rapid and least disruptive way of installing fiber optic cable lines. He started his own construction company to handle the micro-trenching firsthand. The company first adopted this technology in Makati City, where the project was completed in just two months with almost no disruption to the city. In 2013, Converge launched Fiber-to-the-Home fixed broadband services in the country.
Converge offers fixed broadband internet services to residential and enterprise customers. The company also provides private data network solutions, cloud and colocation services and other connectivity solutions to enterprises of varying sizes; and add-on services such as speed boosts and pay TV.
Mr. Uy envisions a fiber-powered future for the country’s digital infrastructure. “I did this out of passion, it didn’t matter if I profited or not,” he said.
The importance of fiber internet became evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. There was a sudden surge in demand for high-speed connectivity for work-from-home professionals and students and fiber was recognized for its superiority.
At this opportune time, Converge stepped in and was able to meet the demand, connecting over 1.8 million subscribers as of the 1st quarter of 2022. From its home base in Central Luzon, the company extended its reach and partnerships to bring fiber broadband connections to Visayas and Mindanao. Converge was also the first company in Southeast Asia to lay 2,000 kilometers of undersea fiber cables in less than six months during the pandemic.
By expanding the digital infrastructure and transformation in the country, Mr. Uy said this will lead to more job creation. He established a BPO customer care service in his hometown to create more job opportunities.
My. Uy was recognized among the “People of the Year” for 2022 by PeopleAsia and received the Global Excellence Award by the International Chamber of Commerce Philippines.
Mr. Uy believes that internet access should be a right of every individual. “Filipinos have been deprived for the longest time,” he said. “They deserve better, future-ready services to access needs such as special education and healthcare.”
He plans to tap into the “sachet culture” of Filipinos and is currently researching ways to offer stable and fast unlimited data to the masses at lower prices than the existing mobile plans with data caps.
“It’s really a challenging industry but someone has to do it. I like being a disruptor. You need to wake up the country. The more disruption, the better it is for Philippine consumers,” Mr. Uy said.
The media sponsors of the Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines 2022 are BusinessWorld and the ABS-CBN News Channel. Gold Sponsors are SteelAsia Manufacturing Corp., Uratex, and Navegar. Silver Sponsors are Intellicare, OneWorld Alliance Logistics Corp., and Regan Industrial Sales, Inc. Banquet Co-presenter is PMFTC, Inc. Banquet Sponsors are Uratex, MerryMart Consumer Corp., Robert Blancaflor Group, Inc., International Container Terminal Services, Inc., Joy~Nostalg and Vista Land & Lifescapes, Inc.
The winners of the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2022 will be announced on Nov. 21 in an awards banquet at the Grand Hyatt Manila. The Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines will represent the country in the World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2023 in Monte Carlo, Monaco in June 2023. The Entrepreneur Of The Year program is produced globally by Ernst & Young (EY).