Dennis Mendiola

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Dennis Beltran Mendiola (born September 1, 1967, New York City) is an engineer, investment banker and entrepreneur who in 2000, assembled and led the team that created Chikka Text Messenger, an integration of web and mobile utilities. He founded the company, Chikka Asia, Inc., as its CEO and de facto "Chief Imagination Officer." Mendiola saw to Chikka's diversification into mobile content and mobile commerce, before it was acquired by Smart Communications in 2009. Mendiola is still active in Chikka as de facto head of its product development team. [1]


Educational and professional history[edit]

Mendiola attended primary and secondary schooling at the Ateneo de Manila University before heading to the United States for college. He graduated double summa cum laude with degrees in BS Economics (Wharton) and BS Electrical Engineering (Moore) from the University of Pennsylvania, and later earned his MBA from the Harvard Business School in 1995. He was employed through 1992 to 1997 as a consultant and investment banker at such institutions as McKinsey Consulting, Morgan Stanley and Bankers Trust.

Early in 1992, he returned to the Philippines to volunteer at the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority in order to attract international investments in the former US Naval Base. He returned again in 1996, to form Next Century Partners, a venture capital firm.

Chikka[edit]

Mendiola co-founded Chikka in 2000 with Alexandra Roxas and Chito Bustamante. Chikka is an instant messaging application that integrates full mobile functions via text messaging.[2] The service launched in 2001 allowed millions of Filipinos who did not have Internet access to use instant messaging using their mobile phones. Chikka now has over 45 million registering to use the service.

As CEO of Chikka,[3] Mendiola has a role in planning product development. From 2000 to 2008 he had pushed for various versions of the Chikka Text Messenger and scores of mobile applications that “text-enabled” aspects of daily life.

Mendiola or his company has filed eleven patents;[4] 34 applications granted; over 40 applications pending for Chikka’s various mobile communications related products covering 24 countries.

Leading Philippine mobile network operator Smart Communications acquired Chikka in 2009 in a move that is largely seen by analysts as a tell-tale sign of the telco opening up and embracing the new wave of OTT or over-the-top data messaging and social networking services that are fast being adopted by subscribers. Mendiola's Chikka was expected to begin work on virtual telco platforms on which a new breed of telecommunications services could be launched. [5]

The company Mendiola founded then absorbed erstwhile competitor Wolfpac, which was earlier also acquired by Smart. The resulting "powerhouse" is now an incubator for new technologies and innovation, producing telco-grade platforms and systems, and real value-added services for the new digital consumer, including corporate partners. [6]

In 2013, with a new landscape being defined by the emergence of smartphones, the predominance of OTT/data services and the unlimited texting culture, Mendiola, still at the helm of Chikka R&D, patented a new service launched by Smart Communications as "PowerApp" -- a smartphone app that interacts with a telco's network to dispense data in "sachets" or "bite-sizes" for use of popular social networking and net messaging applications. [7]

Mobile Internet Revolutionary[edit]

Mendiola had always pursued his mobile Internet innovations with a view to empower the masses in emerging markets and bridging the so-called digital divide in the Philippines of the late 90s, this meant connecting millions of Filipinos who had taken to text messaging, but who were still largely unconnected to the Internet (with only 1% of Filipinos in 1999 having Internet access).

Mendiola thus sought to enable Filipinos to communicate with Instant Messaging counterparts Chikka Text Messenger, participate in an online auction (Bidshot), and participate in chat communities (Crushcow) via patented applications married these Internet technologies with the most widely adopted mobile technology at the time, namely SMS or text via the GSM standard.

While generating a lot of interest in the nascent on-line community locally, Chikka succeeded in connecting a significant overseas population who enjoyed greater access to the Internet, to the sea of SMS users in the country. It remains one of the most relevant apps for Filipinos around the world.

Mendiola Patent portfolio[edit]

A firm believer in filing [patents] to protect and promote innovation, Mendiola wrote or co-wrote patents for each and every method and process that represented innovation and that displayed potential for commercial application. The pioneering Chikka Text Messenger and Bidshot applications were covered by numerous patents for methods and processes at the client and back-end resulting in their intuitive use by mobile subscribers.

Mendiola continued to file patents for recent innovations representing alternative approaches to the current problematic of connecting the un-connected [8]

These include patents for the processes inherent to PowerApp or Devolution and its ability to deliver precise bandwidths to subscribers for specific services, keeping smartphones always-on even as it enhances a telco’s profitability from data.

Some patent rights filed by Mendiola are:

System and method for detecting prepaid Internet connection and a charging mechanism for same[9] This is the invention that powers up Devolution or PowerApp, a way to make Always-on Internet incredibly affordable for the masses.

System and method for adjusting the amount of data bandwidth provided to a mobile device[10] Again part of the PowerApp or Devolution patent series. This talks about giving just enough bandwidth to a user on an Always On basis, such that he can perform tasks on his smartphone seamlessly, at a price point that still allows the telco to make money.

System and method for provisioning Internet access to a computing device[11] This is the invention at the core of both PowerApp and Smartnet [12] It talks about selectively providing free access to certain apps and URLs/IPs in order to get people to use mobile Internet, thereby increasing their chances of transitioning off to paid internet.

Humanitarian Work, Awards and Citations[edit]

Mendiola has also inspired the mobilization of mobile technologies for humanitarian causes. In late 2004 as twin killer typhoons Yoyong and Winnie ravaged southern Luzon in the main Philippine Island, “Donate-a-Load” was launched whereby millions of Filipinos where encouraged to donate their call credits by simply texting variable amounts to a Red Cross short code. The scheme allowed people from all walks of life to give to victims of the typhoons, raising millions of Pesos in a matter of hours. As the country celebrated National Heroes Day in December 30, 2004, the phenomenon was cited in the Editorial of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Donate-a-load would later be mobilized again for victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake with UNICEF as the beneficiary.

In June 2008, Mendiola was inducted as Governor of the Philippine National Red Cross with the specific mission to use technology to advance their cause.

For inspiring technological innovations he had been cited through 2006 and 2007 by:

  • Ernst & Young as Entrepreneur of the Year (2006)
  • The Go Negosyo Movement of the Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship as one of the Ten Most Inspiring techno entrepreneurs (2007)
  • The Philippine Marketing Association for the Agora Asia-Pacific Marketing Excellence Award (2007)
  • Junior Chamber International Philippines as one of the country’s Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM)


References[edit]

Further reading[edit]