Chikka, a tagalog word literally that means “talk”. Filipinos are one of the most scattered races worldwide. We are literally in every part of the world. We love to talk, connect with our loved ones, asking how we are doing. With the introduction of mobile phones in the Philippines in the late 1990s, text messaging or short message service (SMS) has become very popular.
In fact, we are now considered as the text capital of the world considering the millions of text messages wandering in telecom networks everyday. This fact was taken advantage by the pioneer in wireless applications services development, having created the world’s first mobile instant messenger that runs on short message service – CHIKKA.
Let’s see another success story of an entrepreneur who made innovations in short message service that made him millions.
Dennis Mendiola is the man behind the success story of Chikka. He is I think considered genius looking at his educational background. He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a perfect 4.0 grade point average from the University of Pennsylvania, completing a double degree B.S. in Economics which he took up in Wharton and B.S. in Electrical Engineering which he took up in Moore. He also had MBA degree from Harvard Business School.
Mendiola began his professional career as a management consultant at McKinsey & Co. in New York. It is one of the most prestigious consulting firms in the world. He then went into investment banking at Bankers Trust in Singapore and Morgan Stanley in Hong Kong.
After that, Dennis went back to Philippines. He was tapped to head the corporate finance and strategy planning of Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) which was then headed by then SBMA Chairman Richard Gordon. In 1996, he decided to set up his own venture capital company named Next Century Partners Ltd., a private equity fund manager that channels funds from investors like American billionaires Roger Sant and Edward Bass for investment in profitable enterprises in Asia.
With the success of internet wave in late 1990s, Dennis Mendiola and his Next Century Partners got involved in ecommerce and invested in Ajonet Holdings. During that time, the trend was with mobile technology. Little by little, the number of mobile phone subscribers was outrunning the number of internet users. Even more, overseas Filipino workers in more advanced countries have greater access to the internet. So Dennis and his group thought of a way to connect the wired and the wireless.
He then incorporated a new company Chikka Holdings, Inc. named after “Chikka”, the Filipino slang for small talk. It was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands in 2000 with 40% of it owned by the employees and 60% owned by institutions such as venture capital firms Sitestar Corp. of the US Pacific Northstar and Discovery Fund Venture Capital.
Soon after, Chikka Asia, Inc. was set up as the regional operating arm based in the Philippines. It was then known worldwide to develop the first mobile instant messaging service named Chikka Text Messenger. The application lets the users to send text messages to mobile phones through the use of internet.
Chikka has since positioned itself as Wireless Service Provider. In just three quarters, it already achieved break even levels in terms of profit. With the success of Chikka, Mendiola began investing in and launching other technology companies. He then founded the Incredibly Fast Internet Company, a holding company for several internet-based businesses.
In June of 2000, eRegalo was formed to tap the remittance and gift market by overseas Filipinos. Crushcow.com was also formed to introduce mobile matchmaking which was then only available online through the use of internet. Later on, Bidshot.com was also born to compete with auction sites in the internet. It is a unique auction site that lets mobile auctioneers bid on items via text message and be alerted on the status of the bid. It also introduced SMS-interactive TV in the world, enabling any cable system operator to launch their won mobile interactive cable channels.
Mendiola expanded his business further by launching other affiliates that includes Sagent, a leader in “natural language” or the SMS counterpart of “artificial intelligence”. It features a technology it calls M-brace, which is the usual 1-800 number except the numeric digits are text or SMS short codes.
His company was also behind the successful Paysetter International which started the “virtual wallet” enabling users to send and receive actual cash via text messaging service with the use of mobile phones. It then partnered with Globe Telecom to give the country its first peer to peer secure credit reloading system more popularly known as “Share-a-Load.”
Chikka is no longer a local business anymore. It has already launched Lounge, a mobile version of IRC with Chinese carrier Unicorn for Shangdong province in China. It plans to expand to other parts of China. It will also launch its mobile instant messaging service in China called Chikka China. In the US, it has partnered with Cingular and is testing its mobile instant messaging service with T-Mobile and AT&T.
Chikka may literally mean small talk but for the founder Dennis Mendiola, it means a big business as he continuously introduces innovative solutions to the mobile technology.
Source: Go NeGOsyo