One of the biggest sessions at this year BarCamp Asean (a special edition of BarCamp Phnom Penh), TechTalk 2017 offered some highlights of Cambodian tech startups to the enthusiastic audience. Key business players from big to small shared their thoughts on their tech offerings, challenges, golden opportunities, and what it’s like to build and grow a company. Read on my note from this event as I kept trying to capture some of the most important points from the speakers.
When: October 22, 2017
Where: Institute of Technology of Cambodia
Anthony Perkin, Chief Technology Officer of Smart, on cashless society
- examples using cashes from India, China, and Canada
- Mobile money in Cambodia is higher than in Thailand and Vietnam, although not
- recorded by the national bank
- Paying the electricity bill… now being replaced by SmartLuy or Wing
- The last step is to run the transaction on the phone
- Built the trust. trust the company behind them
Sophorth Khuon, Founder and CEO of Morakot Technology, core-banking system for microfinance and banks
- 70 registered micro finances, not capable to purchase software.
- started out as a 3 people team
- worked in the industry for about 10 years before starting the Morakot
- first started by soliving the software price
- support from outside and in a foreign language: time consuming
- 1) affordable 2) cloud base 3) quick implementation 4) automate config
expansion: Myanmar,The Philippines, and Laos
- Sustainability: Started with our own money
- careful to spend and cashflow: no salary
- reserve money for 3 years
- funding: careful with fixed cost, payroll
- start small
- pricing: monthly or yearly subscription, maitanenance fee
- To start a tech startup, focus on a particular software (banking)
- cashflow is very important. revenue from software or funding. the best funding source is from revenue. banks don’t like startup (risky).
- investment from the co-founders and their relatives
- The more operations , the spending rises
- no pricing structure can be problematic later on
Leakhena Long, Joonaak Delivery
- 2 years and 7 months in operation
- Be honest with yourself
- The initital idea is not great yet.
The startup journey is very struggling
4 people. one day, we were in a cafe and talking about starting a cafe. A missing piece, no delivery service. Only meal temple.
- Our life would be very convenient if there is a delivery service. Regularly met up to continue with the idea
- I don’t like when things didn’t move
- We should go to Startup Weekend
Joonaak Delivery was shaped during the Startup Weekend. Parcel delivery. 2nd place in the startup weekend
Disappointed by not being in the first place but learned why.
- 2 deliverymen. now 20 deliveryman
- Her friend run a shop, need the service because to deliver the product to the customer, he needed to close the shop.
- From the beginning, it was all manual. From paper to Excel, to application. to track.
- In the future, to have a mobile to power the merchants and the customer to see the delivery tracking
- Keep yourself learning, in the market
- Everyday, there are many new delivery services. We need to continue to develop, warehousing, packaging.
- After 2 year sand a half, the journey is hard, but we believe in what we do
- Talk to mentors, talk to parents,
Ly Channa, CTO of BookMeBus
- BookMeBus started in December 2015.
- Get to know each other. Met in a coffeeshop and started working on the idea.
- Started with 4 people. Now more than 10 people
- Started as a bus ticketing platform
- Buying a bus ticket is not very convenient. People out of Cambodia cannot easily buy a bus ticket
- Keep wokring on the product
- In 2016, released a simple mobile app.
- Won the ICT award. Getting known to the local market
- BookMeBus: bus ticket, private taxi, ferry
- What I want to share here: when you started with a business, along the way you can see other opportunities. Ferry.
- Next year, we’re planning to expand in Myanmar
- We learn more from the trasnportation providers to allow us to
- As a programmer, keep learning from going to events.
- Commitment. Work hard. work until 1AM. Technology is just one part. Committment is a driving force for success
Bora Kem, Investment Manager of Mekong Strategic Partners
- What we see in the market today
- What an investor looks for?
- Team. A business that is scalable. Large growing market. Traction. Testing the work.
- Add value to the startup team
- one hundred early startup stage.
- Super focus on being local. How customers react, buy thing, work with financial institution
- There are a lot of of web development agency
- Marketplace. Listing space. No clear winner.
- Regionalization. Region as the next market.
- What does the future look like? I don’t know. A few guesses: ask yourself 3 things: is the future already here? Last time, after landing in San Franscisco airport, I took an Uber taxi, stayed in an Airbnb place, shop on Amazon
- Young people are the driving force in buying
- The third. What if. There are so man things impossible. What if the challenge you face won’t exist in the future? What does it mean to your customers? What if technology can give you the info you don’t have before
- If you’re thinking about starting a startup, now is the golden age. Old people cannot tell you how to build app. But you can tell them
Makara Khov, Underscretary of State, Ministry of Post and Telecommunication
- Industrial 4.0. Physical and cyber world
- Innovative environment: government, industry, academe
- Infrastructure & platform of innovation. Knowledge technology transfer. Policy & relegation. Human resource for innovation. Public private partnership
- Agile innovation
- Mobile penetration: ~130%
- Broadband Internet: ~75%
- T/ICT development policy 2020
- Telecom law, subdecree of ICT licensing regime
- will have R&D ~7M$/year
- USO ~14M$/year
- ICT Federation to represent the sector
- Cambodia ICT awards. Stimulus measure
- Do not expect quick investment from investors. Build a great product first.
- Create NIPTIC. Improvmeent of education quality in high school
- Open investment climate
Chy Sila, CEO of Sabay
- Sabay started in 09, 2007. About 10 years old now. We’re the early to get into this sector.
- A brand that focuses on vision. What we want to do. A source of inspiration for the youth of Cambodia
- Future trend
- Focus what’s happening in the world and next
- Inform, inspire, entertain. Pioneer. The trend in other part of the world. Inspire.
- Bring on awesomeness
- The products that make people happy
- I listen. I read.
- In Cambdoia, our technology lags behind about 15-20 years
- Learn from other giant startups and adapt and implement in Cambodia
- Augument Reality
- If we do not follow future,
- Read more. Global trend. not copy. but it’s happening.
- AI. VR. Do we know about them?
- Sabay Der. Kanha. Women are 55%. In just one year, but 45% of traffic of Sabay
- Backend payment. Sabay Wallet. Sabay Coins. Created since 2007
- Soyo. movie content. drama. iflix. jaikontv.
- Our vision is VOD is unique. we produce our own movie.
- We’ll launch with Smart.
- We cannot live far from our smartphone.
- Focus on mobile first since 2014.
Panel discussion: opportunities and challenges of startups in Cambodia
Chanda Pen, moderator
Socheata Lim, Vice President of Young Entrepreneurs Association of Cambodia (YEAC)
Ros Khemra, Regional Accesss to Finance of Mekong Business Initiative (MBI)
Zoe Ng, Managing director of Raintree
Member of Corco and Co-founder of Emerald Hub
Head of Strategy, Smart Axiata
Chanda: One of the issues facing startups
a company needs at least 3 years of capital
What are the some the criterias that Smart looks to invest?
Smart Fund. 5 millions dollar that invest in early stage compnay. lacking of fundings is one of the challenges
To MBI: what are some of the things MBI is looking for?
we’re an ecosystem builder that supports startups. government in Vietnam, Singapore and other countries are turning their focus to support startups
Startups have a lot of potential.
Startups can grow from a small company into a big one in the region
Investors look for in a startup. Team. skills. Realistic of the product. and growth potential.
invest in 4-5 startups. 3 gone. one is half success
a lot of young and talent people. only 16 million population
Ecosystem is important
what advice to you have to startup people
A lot of challenges and opportunities
If you start the business, you need a clear mission, vision,. strong team and commitment.
What advice do you give to entrepreneurs
Networking. The people they know, partners, are one of the driving factors…
Have fun. Relationship is not going to last if you’re not having fun.
Try different things all the time.
Don’t just go to tech tech events.
CSR: Support events like BarCamp Asean, …
invest in company
Invest in young startups
partner with iflix. Support ecosystem.
The tech ecosystem in the region:
The whole ecosystem: corporate support, government support policy
More co-working spaces
In term of technical capacity, we’re good. Top ten in 2016-2017. BanhJi top 10.
We have a smaller community, but good.