Blogging from Cambodia with Love

This is an email interview I gave to a Cambodian university student.

1. Could you please tell me a bit about yourself?

I’m a founder of KokiTree, a Phnom Penh-based content marketing agency. A technology blogger since 2004, I’ve been also a journalist, digital strategist, and communicator. My work has also appeared in a variety of publications, including The Huffington Post, The Phnom Penh Post, Global Voices Online, The Asian Correspondent, Tech In Asia, ICTWorks, Voices of America, IRIN News, Red Herring, and more.

2. Do you blog and when did you start blogging? What are the specific perspective that you would raise to discuss or express in your blog?

I’ve been blogging since 2004. I write about technology and media. I’ve been interested in the intersection of these two fields, the impact of the Internet on society and individuals. I also write about life in Cambodia.

3. Why do you start blogging?

I enjoy writing and expressing my thoughts. I first learned how to setup a personal home page (website) in the early 2000s. In 2014, I discovered this blogging platform and started adopting blogging since then.

4. Is blogging still popular in Cambodia? Are there more or less blogs
now then there were in the previous years?

In Cambodia, blogging was popular before Facebook and Twitter. While blogging isn’t so much trendy these, its core is here that we express and consume everyday.

5. What do you think about the fresh young blogger in Cambodia?

A new generation of bloggers in Cambodia is better equipped with technologies and tools than ever before. It’s easy to do live blogging from their smartphone. These young bloggers can network and form groups to niche and lifestyle content. They’re talented and savvy.

6. Lastly, what’s else do you want to tell me more?

Blogging in Cambodia will continue to evolve. The platform and technology are here. The ideas and expressions will be more interesting over time. I look forward to read rational conversations that matter to them.

Cambodia’s Startups: What You May Not Know

An Internet expert opined this:
“Cambodia’s tech startup sectors and funding are booming. But here’s the thing, if every fresh kid and their buddies only aspire to deliver cool big-screen “sexy” keynotes in their jeans and t-shirts, who are left going to do the good-old boring stuff like err… getting things done or honest-to-goodness wet work?”

I received these questions from a Cambodian university student who’s working on her master’s program. Her work focuses on the emerging entrepreuneurs in Cambodia. The questions center around the business technology startups in Phnom Penh. The answers are my observation and perspectives.

You may also want to read: Phnom Penh’s startups: ‘the art of battling giants’

Question: What is tech startup? When has it happened in Cambodia?
A tech startup is a process or a journey of transforming a idea into a business that generate profit by an individual or a group of people. An amazing idea is still cheap without the execution. That’s what a startup is all about. Just like any businesses, this startup concept has been here in Cambodia for a very long time. But in our modern time Cambodia, in this digital age in particular, we’ve witnessed more and more startups here and there especially in Phnom Penh.

Question: What is your view of technology business in Cambodia? Is it a big field and going on well?
It’s almost impossible to do business without relying on or integrating technology. Both business and technology are way better when utilizing one another. They’re seamlessly together. The future of technology business is here.

Have government or other key players provided financial and non-financial support for this technology business?
The ministries play a very vital role to encourage and support this technology business sector to grow. The Ministry of Education as well as the Ministry of Tecom are at the forefront to nuture the young generation of entrepreneurs to do well.

What are the opportunities for this kind of business in Cambodia? And what are the challenges they face in this context?
Cambodia has a growing population of young people who are fluent in English and can develop technology skill very well. The ability to take on an idea and develop it into something amazing is a huge opportunity. In content production business, some Cambodian groups can launch digital platforms in the local language, build the audience, and have the opportunity to scale them to the region with external funding from some investors. It’s like mining gold. However, this is not without challenges. The local ecosystem to support these early stage businesses, who are a shoestring budget through bootstrapping, is not yet fully in place. From mentorship to seed funding to regulations, Cambodia is still in its early phase.

Do you know any tech entrepreneurs in Cambodia? Their typical profile?
Most of the tech entrepreneurs I’ve met are young men in their mid 20s. They’re fluent in English-language communications, very tech savvy, and socialable.

What are your views on the female entrepreneur in Cambodia?
In tech business, the playing field is open to everyone with creativity and the ability to take or minimize risks.

Do you know any female entrepreneurs in technology startups? May you name some?
Malypoeur Plong who founded Stops Near Me, a mobile application for Phnom Penh residents to take advantage of riding the city bus. Leakhena Long of Joonaak Delivery is another entrepreneur to watch out.

What do you think the barriers women face? Especially in technology? Do you think men and women face the same challenges?

Are there any supporting organizations or investors in technology startups?

Is it hard to attract investor or get loan? And do those financial institutions discriminate between men and women entrepreneurs?

What do you wish to see from the Government as well as other stakeholders?

A Gathering of ASEAN Digital Diplomats

I spent the first week of September in Bangkok, Ayutthya, and Rayong province, Thailand. It’s an honor to be part of this trip hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand.

Touring the ASEAN Cultural Center in the heart of Bangkok

A visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Thailand for a meeting with

Photo courtesy Ratanasiri Chotvitayakul

Thailand’s Kamnoetvidya Science Academy

This Thailand’s modern academy is embarking on grooming the newest generation of nation’s most gifted minds.

Only 70 students get accepted after 5000 thousands of applicants, from across Thailand, go through a series of tests every year.

The classes were named after the four houses of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft.

And the quotes start from Galileo Galilei to Steve Jobs.

To navigate through the next century, it may start with having this school on the outskirts of Rayong, out in the jungle, where most talented kids can discover, make, and invent.

I wish I can send my kids here. But for the time being, it’s not open to foreign students just yet.

Life Inspiration

As written by my close friend, Socheata Vong

To those who lose inspiration in life: It is okay to lose inspiration in life sometimes. It will always come back to you. Inspiration can be either luxury or simplicity depending on who you are and what you want.

Get lost sometimes and you will find a way back again. Never embrace positiveness all the time because when negativeness happens to you, you will suffer from it because you don’t prepare yourself to face it. Learn to anticipate negative things and to accept them. That is how you grow as a human being. Never compare yourself to others. Never let anyone cause you troubles and never let anyone solve your own problems.

If you experience disappointments talking to people, talk to the nature instead. Nature gives you the best comfort. Embracing silence in the nature can enrich your mental state and spirituality. Don’t enjoy your success, wealth and fame too much while people around you are striving. Give a hand to them and inspire them to become better.

Life can become fragile any time even if you live in a mansion, fly high in the sky or drive in a motorcade. Don’t rely on an unaccountable government to safeguard your welfare. Look left or right before you come out of your house. Don’t let your bag get stolen or robbed just a few meters outside of your house or on a Tuk-Tuk.

Spend money in your wallet wisely. Buy a ticket for yourself and for your family members to a charity concert or an art gallery which can make your day and can help our artists survive and revive our past’s glorious culture. Give some of your money away to those who are in critical need. Join a social cause when an opportunity arises.

Reading could help you live longer. Reading books for 30 minutes everyday could make you live an average 23 months longer. Exercise yields a positive impact on your life span. An hour of running may add seven hours to your life. Traveling opens up your mind and expands your horizon. Travel to the nearest and to the farthest to understand how other people live their life. Travel into the deep nature to make an intimate connection with our beautiful Mother Earth. These things might sound very simple to you yet they are so priceless that your wealth and fame can never buy them for you.

Don’t look for an external inspiration. Look for it from your within. Your inspiration is defined by you, not by others. Learn to appreciate whatever you have in life.