The annual SmartStart Young Innovator Program has chosen the next batch of winners from a plethora of ideas at the Cycle 3 Final Pitch.
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Selected in April from a pool of 30 teams, consisting of more than 120 participants from 10 universities across Cambodia, following a 2-day Hackathon in Phnom Penh, the 15 teams who underwent an intensive 5-day Technopreneurship Challenge at Kampong Cham last month are now down to its best 5:
- RENTECH helps users to rent accommodation, especially targeting students from provinces who come to major cities for their tertiary study.
- Sers Chborng offers mentor support for high school students, especially those seeking to apply for scholarships and exchange programs as well as take part in competitions.
- STYLE provides users with various opportunities to rent suits, dresses or traditional clothes for special occasions.
- PhumCAKE allows anyone to design cakes with unique shapes, colours and flavours, for special events.
- SpeakOut helps people struggling with depression by providing anonymous communication channels, awareness information and linking them with professional psychiatrists.
Each team was given $5,000 in cash prize and an opportunity to join a 6-month incubator program with Impact Hub Phnom Penh after impressing judges with their business models, digital solutions and teamwork at the Cambodia-Korea Cooperation Center.
At the end of the incubator program, the team with the most progress will receive a tech-trip to visit the likes of Google, Microsoft, Facebook and LinkedIn in Singapore.
SmartStart is a young innovator programme that seeks to help young Cambodian university students launch their own tech startups through mentorship and financial support.
Participants took part in a six-month incubator programme where they had access to free working space, mentorship, and collaboration opportunities, among others.
Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart Axiata, said he expected the winners to continue to work hard to turn their ideas into successful apps.
“Let’s think bold. Smart is giving a platform to young innovators and hopes the winners will bring more ideas to the startup ecosystem in Cambodia,” Mr Hundt said.
Minister of Education Hang Choun Narong said the programme this year has significantly improved compared to previous iterations.
“SmartStart will help promote the tech and ICT sector in Cambodia and improve the skills of our professionals,” Mr Choun Narong said.
Kan Channmeta, secretary of state of Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, said, “The SmartStart Young Innovator Programme encourages young innovators and university students to express their ideas and create new businesses that will help the economy grow.”
Chea Serey, director general of National Bank of Cambodia, said the competition is helping Cambodia develop its ICT sector.
“To become an economy based on innovation, we need programmes that support young entrepreneurs.”
To the winners, she said, “Please don’t give up and continue pursuing your business ideas instead of following someone else’s idea.”
The winners yesterday were selected by a judging panel composed of NBC’s Chea Serey, Smart Axiata’s Thomas Hundt, Kem Bora from Mekong Strategy Partners, Adriana Collini, accelerator manager at Senior Investment Association, and Zoe Ng, director of Raintree.
The SmartStart competition was launched in 2017.