Khmer Times’ Sok Chan sits down with Martin Lansard, CEO and co-founder of Aniwaa, a tech media startup that secured seed funding early this year.
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KT: Can you tell us more about your company?
Mr Lansard: Aniwaa is a tech media startup founded in 2013. We have been in Cambodia since 2014. We are a trusted source of information with our comparison engine focusing on emerging technologies, in particular 3D printing, 3D scanning, virtual reality, and augmented reality. Aniwaa provides decision-making tools to help tech enthusiasts, advanced and professional users make informed purchases.
We secured seed funding in early 2018 and this has validated our strategy as a leading tech media startup in Cambodia. Now, we have comparison information on more than 1,400 3D printers and 250 3D scanners, as well as over 100 virtual reality and augmented reality headsets that include filters to help users narrow down their selection. We also assist users to compare up to three products at the same time.
KT: What do you think of the technology industry in Cambodia?
Mr Lansard: I think these are very interesting times for the young generation who want to achieve something in the technology sector. The startup segment is growing here and they are beginning to structure themselves. I think we will see innovation coming out of Phnom Penh as there is a lot of talent here.
In Cambodia, both in terms of technology and ideas, young people have the talent and the desire to build their businesses and now they are starting to have the tools and infrastructure they need to make it happen. There are many funds and co-working spaces available, which can help them structure their startups.
KT: How is traffic now like in your comparison engine?
Mr Lansard: Aniwaa is seeing several thousand searches every day from all around the world, and the number of visitors to the website is growing day by day. The visitors are mostly from Europe, America and Asia. Now we are working on virtual reality and augmented reality, as well as 3D printers and 3D scanners, but we are planning on expanding to other technologies in the future. Our goal is to offer services in a wide range of emerging technologies.
KT: Tell us more about your search engine.
Mr Lansard: Following a recent round of seed funding, the company has built the most complete database yet. This is devoted to virtual, augmented and mixed reality head-mounted displays (HMDs). Just like 3D printing a few years ago, information about virtual and augmented reality HMDs are scattered across the internet, with few user-friendly tools to guide consumers.
Aniwaa’s new comparison engine is addressing this problem and it was put together with the same diligence that made the company a household name in the 3D printing industry. The virtual reality and augmented reality comparison engines have already indexed over 100 devices.
Our search engine includes filters to help narrow down the selection. Users can easily compare up to three products at a time and get a comprehensive overview of the products that interest them. To help users navigate this complex, high-tech environment, the content team has also released a series of special guides for our users.
KT: How does your company help entrepreneurs in Cambodia?
Mr Lansard: We advise and mentor young Khmer. We also specialised in building decision tools which are helpful in creating awareness in the community and make the technology more popular. This might help in making young engineers interested in virtual and augmented reality which are technologies that will grow a lot in the next five years. It is certainly important that local engineers become familiarized with these technologies. This is where Aniwaa can help.
KT: Tell us about the virtual reality and augmented reality sectors in Cambodia. What is Aniwaa doing to expand in these markets?
Mr Lansard: Virtual reality and augmented reality have incredible growth potential, and they will change a lot of things in the future. We know it is going to change the way we interact with machines, as well as the way we see digital information. What we don’t know yet is what sector will be changed the most by these technologies. We are now trying to help people understand the technology available in the market, and give them an idea of how it is going to work for them. Since some companies are trying to sell virtual and augmented reality headsets, we collect all the information and present it in a simpler format so that buyers can understand it better and make an informed decision.
KT: Do you have any competitors here in Cambodia? What are your sources of revenue?
Mr Lansard: In Cambodia, we do not have any competitors. We are a media company so we make money from advertising. We build product pages which feature the description of the products, including specifications, photographs, and shipping service information. When buyers go to our website, the information is fresh, reliable and functional.
KT: How popular are virtual reality and augmented reality in Cambodia?
Mr Lansard: I would imagine they are famous around the world because people love videogames. Cambodians like technology and they like having fun, so they like virtual reality. The biggest users of virtual reality and augmented reality in the future will be businesses like real estate companies and architecture firms, as well as professionals like personal trainers and doctors, who will need it to show their designs and products. Augmented reality is useful for manufacturing, logistics and construction.