Cohen Harris

In the Philippines today, one major hurdle standing in the path of businesses looking to scale is the lack of access to essential technology. For many business owners and entrepreneurs, this translates to difficulties and headaches in sourcing critical hardware like laptops to equip their growing teams with.

For many business owners and entrepreneurs, this translates to difficulties and headaches in sourcing critical hardware like laptops to equip their growing teams with. TechUp founder Cohen Harris discovered this firsthand after interviewing multitudes of Filipino founders and executives. Countless companies, from small startups to fast growing outsourcing firms, lacked sufficient capital to spend on their technology hardware needs. Compounding the problem are the complexities of B2B laptop purchasing and receiving consistent and quality after-sales support. “Laptops are a key barrier to entry for any new entrepreneur in the Philippines,” shares Harris, who sees the lack of technological infrastructure as an inhibitor to company growth.

In early 2023, Cohen envisioned a solution: TechUp, a platform that streamlines hardware access by offering employee laptop rentals while managing the entire asset lifecycle, from onboarding to repairs to offboarding. Cohen believes device rentals can be a game changer for the Philippines economy. Beyond helping to unlock untapped entrepreneurial potential, TechUp fosters a local circular economy, helping to mitigate the growing local e-waste problem that has marked the Philippines as one of the top producers of e-waste in Southeast Asia. Recognising this challenge, Cohen designed TechUp with sustainable development in mind. By promoting device rentals, TechUp helps reduce e-waste by discouraging the purchase of new technology while extending the lifespan of electronics, keeping them out of landfills.

Cohen’s Journey to Founding TechUp

A Filipino-American native of Miami, Florida, Cohen attended the University of Florida and studied Mechanical Engineering before working as a Consulting Manager at Accenture in Atlanta, Georgia. Following his stint in consulting, Cohen completed his MBA at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.Back in 2015 while he was still in undergrad, Cohen launched his first business selling a 3D printed invention that ultimately became a top selling product on Amazon. “I realized from my first business that my passion and initiative would forever carry me forward in any space,” Cohen recounts, “and that those moments gave me the confidence and vision to not only start seeking larger opportunities, but also to inspire others who have an interest in entrepreneurship.” Cohen started working with Kaya Founders in February 2023 as a part-time entrepreneur-in-residence (EIR).

With Kaya’s support, he was able to take the first steps towards realizing his vision. Working closely together, they interviewed key stakeholders, learning about the problems they faced and ideating on potential solutions. Cohen reflects on the transformative impact of Kaya’s technical assistance during his transition from working and studying in the US to launching a startup in the Philippines. “Kaya has been able to help my startup journey by providing connections, local tools and resources, and market-specific insights and perspectives”, Cohen explains, which helps him craft his business model and scale operations. Moreover, Kaya was able to connect Cohen to his first customers and suppliers, as well as provide support through major obstacles relating to shipping and payments. In the near term, Cohen hopes to build TechUp into a self-service technology platform which outsources and automates the entire laptop procurement and tech support lifecycle, while focusing on customer service and operational excellence. Cohen envisions TechUp eventually evolving into a value-based SaaS platform model with rentals as the core value proposition. TechUp has ambitions to scale to larger customer segments in the Philippines, expand regionally and beyond, and add new products such as data privacy tools, software and subscription licensing, and national e-device supply chain marketplaces.