Filipino Stanford Graduate Aims to Propel Philippines into Global Tech Sphere

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Atty. Juan Paolo Villonco, the first Filipino graduate of Stanford Law, and President of Astro Robotics, has teamed up with Jin Tomioka, CEO and Co-founder of Telexistence, a world leader in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Virtual Reality (VR) technology.

Both hailing from Asian backgrounds and sharing a Stanford University education, Villonco and Tomioka are driven by a common vision to utilize their knowledge and skills for positive impacts on the Philippines and Japan. Their collaboration, inspired by the innovation and collaborative spirit they experienced at Stanford, aims to translate their shared vision into a meaningful partnership. The pair first crossed paths through mutual acquaintances at Stanford, where they were enrolled in different graduate programs. Villonco explained that their shared belief in embracing technology for inclusive growth and building a better world brought them together.

As proud alumni of Stanford University, Villonco and Tomioka exemplify the pinnacle of innovation and leadership. Villonco expressed that obtaining a Stanford education was a long-standing goal for him, citing the university’s interdisciplinary approach and open-mindedness as influential factors shaping his thinking and attitude towards work and life.

“I admire their interdisciplinary approach to learning, problem-solving, and to life in general. Their open-mindedness and pursuit of excellence through innovation and acceptance of disruption as a natural part of evolution greatly influenced my thinking and attitude towards work and life,” Villonco explained.

Tomioka, who had a decade-long career with Mitsubishi Corporation, decided to delve into early-stage businesses, seeking to immerse himself in building enterprises around groundbreaking, unproven technologies. He emphasized Stanford’s status as a hub for tech businesses and startups, making it the ideal choice for his needs.

Both Stanford alumni attribute their profound influence to the university’s culture of innovation, encouraging thinking beyond conventional boundaries. Villonco highlighted how Stanford taught him to view difficulties as part of the path to success, providing him the courage to go against the grain.

Tomioka found that his most impactful lessons came from experiences outside traditional lecture halls, particularly interactions with tech startup communities around the university. These encounters shaped his perspective, leading him to believe there was little difference between himself and successful entrepreneurs.

“I wanted to get myself involved more in the process of building businesses by commercializing game-changing unproven technologies. Stanford and the communities around it, as known by the world, is the center of tech business and startups. Thus, it would be the best choice for my needs,” Tomioka said.

Forged during their Stanford years, the friendship between Villonco and Tomioka, along with their shared aspiration to positively impact the Philippines and Japan, catalyzed the collaboration between Astro Robotics and Telexistence.

The collaboration aims to achieve employment mobility in a novel way, providing job opportunities and upskilling Filipino workers for the digital economy. Simultaneously, it addresses Japan’s need for a younger workforce by enabling remote work for essential workers through the use of robots and VR.

Telexistence had previously implemented this vision in Japan in 2022, using robots to replenish shelves in convenience stores. Tomioka envisions applying this concept to the Philippines, allowing workers to contribute remotely from their home country through technologies like robots.

For Villonco, the partnership between Astro Robotics and Telexistence is not just about technology but an initiative aimed at unlocking the full potential of the Philippines. He emphasizes the opportunity for Filipinos to become global tech leaders, provided there is a massive upskilling of the workforce and the creation of technology jobs.

Astro Robotics, as the exclusive Philippine partner of Telexistence, spearheads the collaboration to commercialize robotics, AI, AR, and VR technology services. Committed to inclusive growth, Astro Robotics aims to involve young Filipinos in the global shift toward the fourth industrial revolution.

Villonco’s overarching goal is to secure a place for the Philippines within the expansive landscape of the global tech workforce. He envisions exploring opportunities with various institutions to further develop the robotics/AI/VR industry, and educate and upskill Filipinos through internship programs in the emerging tech sector.

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