Gian Scottie Javelona, a former student of Polytechnic Unversity of the Philippines (PUP), now heads his own tech firm and has landed on Forbes' 30 Under 30 List at the age of 24.
"I started programming when I was in high school – basic programming, like web stuff. I was business minded na when I was in high school and college palang kasi I needed to make money," Javelona recalled on the sidelines of the Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit in Parañaque City.
"I was a student of PUP and in PUP, 'yung class namin we share one computer with eight students and we don't have enough classrooms, so nag-te-take kami ng class sa basketball court," he added.
Javelona said the situation gave him an idea to write a software to make life for students more convenient minus the hassles of the everyday life in school.
In college, he "took up computer engineering. And in PUP you'll see the real meaning of life, kasi you don't have any resources. You need to make your own resources," he said.
"Nag-develop kami ng application where using your phone you could study na, you could take classes, you could answer quizzes, you can do enrollment and you don't need to fall in line for like three to four hours to pay for tuition fees," Javelona added.
In his profile on Forbes, Javelona "admitted he started out hacking his school's systems.
"I didn't really hack like delete my grade or something. I just accessed or created a better front-end, para mas mabilis ma-access ng users 'yung app, rather than 'dun sa web kasi ang bagal," he told GMA News Online.
"Lahat ng users nasa isang gateway lang, so I created a different one. And then once na nag-log-in, kumo-connect na agad sa backend so much, much faster," he added.
Javelona said he explained what he did to his teachers, as well as the president of the school, but added that he didn't really face any sanctions.
"'Yung mga teachers ko, nagalit talaga sa 'kin, of course, but wala talaga akong pake. I know kasi I'm gonna solve a problem," he said.
"Then ang nangyari, the president called for a meeting, asked me some questions. And then sabi ko maybe I can really just sell my product to different schools," he added.
His company OrangeApps now provides schools their own information systems and data analytics in one application.
"What we're doing is instead of the school worrying about subscribing to different softwares, ang nangyayari now is they'll just subscribe to us. And once they subscribe to us, everything that the school needs will be provided," he said.
"We're like Facebook, but for schools. So we just added different functions. So 'yung newsfeed namin, we have something like that. Doon nila pinopost 'yung mga announcements, 'yung mga events nila," he added.
Among the schools that subscribe to OrangeApps are the Manila Waldorf School, World Citi Colleges, USST Colleges, and the School of St. Mark.
Javelona and four other Filipinos caught the eye of Forbes, and included them in this year's "30 Under 30 Asia" list with the "brightest young entrepreneurs, innovators, and game changers" in the region.
"We're doing good. We're happy with the progress," Javelona said.
"We're now starting to pilot a school in Indonesia. I want to go to all emerging countries – in Vietnam, Brunei, South Africa. So all the emerging countries," he added.
Being on the Forbes 30 Under 30 List, instilled in Javelona a lot of optimism about the future of his business.
"It gained us a lot of credibility and, especially in the Philippines. 'Di ba mahalaga dito 'yung sino ka, ano 'yung background mo. It gave us value, it gave us worth to the customers, to the industry, that we have credibility," he said. — VDS/JST, GMA News