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Smart’s annual TechTalk identifies potential in Cambodian start-ups

Gerald Flynn / Khmer Times Share:
Sala received the award for best startup in Cambodia. Sala is a school management platform designed for K-12 and universities with features such as student management, human resources and billing. Smart Axiata

The Institute of Technology of Cambodia played host to a range of students, entrepreneurs, leading lights of the private sector and officials from a range of ministries yesterday as the annual Smart TechTalk rounded off the weekend by highlighting the immense potential in local start-ups.

Keynote speakers from Amazon, Grab and Leaderonomics delivered speeches to a rapt audience on Sunday, which concluded with Sala, a school management platform, announced as the winner of the Seedstars’ Best Startup Cambodia award.

The plucky young Cambodians were one of the 30 applicants to the Seedstars World Phnom Penh event and beat out the other seven finalists after wowing the judges with their innovative approach to school management.

Sala will now go on to the regional Seedstars summit in November and receive three days of mentorship, as well as a host of investor meetings. Furthermore, they will go on to join Seedstars’ investment readiness programme, which entitles them to a 3-month mentorship programme that is tailored to the challenges they will face. The potential prize at the end of the road is $1 million, should Sala reach the Seedstars’ Global Summit in Switzerland next year.

The success of Sala was mirrored in a similar contest run by Seedstars. The Lean Launchpad is a pilot programme designed to encourage entrepreneurship from an early age, challenging high school students from grade nine to 12 to tackle environmental conservation and education.

Big Dream from Liger Academy took the top prize, winning the hearts and minds of the panel of judges, who were comprised of local and international experts, giving the high schoolers a very real taste of pitching to investors in what appears the perfect marriage of education and experience.

Sunday’s event and the success of the start-ups involved was the result of a combined effort from Smart Axiata, Seedstars, the National Institute of Posts, Telecoms and ICT, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, and the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunication.

“This is one of my favorite weekends of the year as it brings all these incredible young people together with some of the best and brightest from the region. Watching the ideas flow at events like this makes us so proud to be part of Cambodia’s digital journey, where we can support the unleashing of dynamic talent, passion and energy onto the region’s tech scene,” says Jonathan Yap, head of regulatory and corporate affairs at Smart Axiata.

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