New business ideas and demos from Smart API Hackathon showcased
Over 5,000 participants, including government officials, high profile business people, young entrepreneurs and university students gathered at the Institute of Technology of Cambodia (“ITC”) for the country’s largest annual tech and startup conference, BarCamp ASEAN 2017 last month.
The two-day event was opened by H.E. Kim Sethany, Secretary of State of Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. Other notable guests included Dr. Seng Sopheap, President of the National Institute of Posts, Telecoms and ICT, Phol Norith, Deputy Director of ITC and Jonathan Yap, Head of Regulatory & Corporate Affairs of Smart Axiata, the event’s main sponsor.
In addition to exhibitions, workshops and competitions, this year’s BarCamp introduced “TechTalk 2017” which provided tech businesses with the opportunity to share industry best-practice ideas, highlight key challenges, discuss product and customer development, and plant creative ideas on developing Cambodia’s digital and ICT sector.
The event saw luminaries from some of Cambodia’s leading ICT companies, including Smart, Sabay, Joonaak Delivery, Morakot Technology and BookMeBus.
Leakhana Long, Co-Founder of Joonaak Delivery, shared the challenges faced by her company, and how having a strong belief in the importance of the service they provide has led to the rapid growth of Joonaak. She echoed a popular message among speakers of the importance of mobile technology in unlocking the potential of ICT startups such as hers.
Further representing the country’s ICT ecosystem were representatives from Mekong Strategic Partners, Mekong Business Initiative, Raintree Cambodia, Emerald Hub, Young Entrepreneurs Association of Cambodia and the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (“MPTC”).
H.E. Dr. Khov Makara, Under Secretary of State of MPTC shared the government’s efforts to nurture an innovative ICT environment. During his talk, H.E. stressed the importance of ensuring new digital products are ready for consumers. “Do not expect quick investment,” H.E. stated. “Develop a great product first.”
Participants also benefited from a panel discussion on the opportunities and challenges of startups in Cambodia, moderated by Chanda Pen, Co-Founder of Bongloy. You Sokunpanha, Head of Strategy & Business Development of Smart Axiata shared how the company continues to play an active role in developing the tech ecosystem as part of its desire to become Cambodia’s Digital Champion.
When asked what advice she would give to future entrepreneurs, Zoe Ng, Managing Director of Raintree Cambodia said: “Networking. The people you know, meet and discover, are one of the driving factors… Have fun! Relationships with partners will not last if you are not having fun.”
The TechTalk also provided an opportunity for Smart to introduce its own Application Program Interface (API) platform, called the Mobile Internet Fulfilment Exchange, which is intended to allow faster engagement and partnerships and opens up new ways of doing business in the digital space.
Smart Axiata‘s Chief Information Officer, Kalyan Achyutuni, shared the potential of this platform for the Kingdom’s talented developers to utilize Smart APIs to quickly develop and launch new products and services – permitting rapid innovation and easy collaboration with Smart.
The TechTalk ended with four teams from the Smart API Hackathon pitching innovative ideas to a panel of judges. A new proposition for Smart Music called “Come Again” was chosen as the 1,000 USD prize winner and now has the opportunity to further develop the idea with Smart.
Thomas Hundt, Smart Axiata CEO, praised the quality of the participants at BarCamp ASEAN 2017 and the TechTalk, and stressed the importance of investing in Cambodia’s tech future.
“A successful and dynamic tech environment is vital in helping break down barriers often faced by Cambodian entrepreneurs. As the leading mobile operator, we will continue focusing on advancing the Kingdom’s technology and digital talent. There are millions of inspired youngsters out there eager to learn and being part of digitally transforming Cambodia. We at Smart want to enable this movement and will accordingly keep investing massively,” he said.
For more information and updates on the next Smart API Hackathon, and Smart’s sustainability and corporate responsibility initiatives, follow Smart’s “Smart for Cambodia” Facebook page at www.facebook.com/smartforcambodia/ or visit www.smart.com.kh.