@Stanford Social Innovation Review by Tim Brown & Jocelyn Wyatt
9 Minute Read
Andre Yap is the founder and CEO of Ignite House of Innovations, which invests and operates in venture capital, technology, media, education, healthcare, energy, hospitality, food, agri, HR and enterprise solutions.
Andre also serves as Executive Chairman of Ni2, The Philippines’ National Innovators Initiative to power 100,000 Filipino Innovators by 2023. Ni2 is a public-private partnership with national and local governments, business and non-profit organizations, and the academe.
As a serial founder and startup investor, Andre has built Ignite House to be an innovator for innovators – to R&D, build, operate and continuously invest in proprietary systems, platforms, programs and technologies in order to nurture, scale and sustain innovation capabilities, open collaborations and disruptive opportunities uniting key sectors of society (business, education, socio-civic, government, startups, investors), with the vision of establishing the Filipino as a uniquely disruptive force in global innovation.
“Ignite’s mission is deeply personal to Andre: to build and invest in transcendent ventures by building up and investing in transcendent founders and teams, advancing his core belief that innovation is the business (i.e., building sustainable operating models) of solving society’s wicked problems. In 2018 Andre authored the Ignite Manifesto and has relentlessly pushed its growth as an Operating System that has helped thousands of individuals and teams channel deeply personal GPS (Genius, Purpose, Service) into shared Mission and Collaboration, into Innovation and Impact.“
“Andre was born and raised in Manila and educated by the Jesuits and the Opus Dei, before moving onto the US, where he earned 3 degrees (Yale, Fordham, NYU) and lived for 15 years. In 2009, based on his pioneering work with CUBED (“Cube Ed”), the Center for University-Based Enterprise & Development, which Andre founded as an innovation accelerator and ecosystem in the state of Connecticut, the US Government granted Andre the status of Permanent Resident on the Basis of Exceptional Ability in the National Interest of the United States of America. Nevertheless, Andre’s heart remains fully in the Philippines, where he wants to do his best work and most meaningful impact. He has called Manila home again since 2011, when he moved back with his wife and their 2 dazzling boys.
“I’ve pursued my career as a series of ventures and adventures… it’s a path that doesn’t look or feel like any other, that rarely ever really feels like work… precisely by challenging established norms, relentlessly going out of my box and into many other boxes, appreciating how seemingly disparate realities tie together, threading constellations where others barely even see the dots.””
“From choosing Yale for its public-private management focus and then following it up with a second Masters in Interactive Marketing at NYU; to deciding against the post-MBA rush into investment banking or management consulting so that I can start the YGroupe and really understand the leverage in my New York, New Haven, Manila connections; to starting CUBED despite my perfectly zero knowledge of tech, incubators or the academe; to choosing to come home to Manila despite CUBED’s success and the US government’s offer of Permanent Residence; to the long and winding road of ventures, investments and partnerships that have now led to the National Innovators Initiative and cross-sector collaborations, not just across industries, but tying together national and local governments and hundreds of schools and MSMEs. I’ve really enjoyed the thrill of going into frontier space that I know nothing about, that no one knows anything about, and making sense and structure out of all that chaos and ambiguity – building value, outcomes, impact where nothing but deep need existed.”
“Innovation: that’s what many people call it. For me, I see myself as an artist no less than Da Vinci or Picasso – business is my canvas and if I’m honest and brave there is no other way to paint but my way. Above all, I see innovation as my humbling participation in God’s ongoing work of creation – to help make things new and better all the time and to share that fire and capacity for renewal with everyone I meet. As we say, to ignite all we touch to live their deepest truth and so fulfill their highest potential and greatest promise.”