Here’s a little riddle for you:
What rhymes with fun, brings joy to the faces of startup and entrepreneurs and excites the writers of Geeks in Cambodia?
If ‘funds’ was the first thing to pop into your mind, then you are absolutely right! And of course, whatever tingles our excitement, we will definitely want to share with our readers.
With that in mind, you should understand why we are beyond thrilled that CamboTicket, Cambodia’s first and leading travel ticketing platform, has received 100,000$ in funding from OBOR Capital* with the potential to invest additional funds of up to $100,000 if growth targets are achieved.
OBOR Capital, headquartered in the bustling Phnom Penh, is a boutique investment firm that has previously invested in Utility and Agro sectors in the past. CamboTicket marks its first exciting investment in the tech sector, and we can definitely see why.
An online platform that connects travellers with travel operators, CamboTicket has currently partnered with more than 40 travel operators, granting users a wide range of bus, ferry and private taxis services they can book online. These services include 80 routes within and even to the neighboring countries of sunny Thailand, friendly Vietnam and charming Laos.
“Travel segment in Cambodia, and the Mekong region in general, is highly fragmented and CamboTicket aims to solve this problem through technology. The new funds will be used to increase penetration in the Cambodian market and to add new markets for expansion,” says Shivam Tripathi, the co-founder of CamboTicket.
Certainly, aside from presenting a network of online consumers for its partners, CamboTicket has also provided an efficient booking management software that many of them use to manage their operations and distribute seat inventory.
Thai Sila, CamboTicket’s Operations and Sales Manager also noted that: “Majority of our existing customer base is international travelers and expats but we are putting efforts to increase adoption among locals by building awareness and trust among them. Acknowledging the needs of local market, CamboTicket offers payments by cash since its inception. It has recently expanded cash payments in all major Cambodian cities.”
Indeed, CamboTicket’s efforts to bring a reliable online ticketing platform have not gone unseen. Since being founded in 2014 by Shivam Tripathi and Rahul Anand, it has gone on to win numerous awards recognition such as the Bronze Medal in the 2016 ASEAN ICT Awards in Startup Category. Tripathi was also featured in the Forbes 30 under 30 Asia 2016 under the E-Commerce and Retail Category.
“Travel and Tourism plays an important role in Cambodian economy, contributing close to 5 billion dollars to GDP. CamboTicket is solving a real problem for local and international travelers and it has a strong team to develop the business multifold.” Says Christophe Forsinetti, Chairman of OBOR Capital.
Geeks in Cambodia cannot agree more, and are proud of how quickly CamboTicket has developed as a startup. In fact, we caught wind that CamboTicket would be capitalizing on this fund to expand regionally, and had the wonderful opportunity to discuss this upcoming development with Mr Ricardo Balmori (R), the marketing manager of CamboTicket.
The following interview has been edited for clarity, language and flow.
What does this achievement represent to you? What does this recent funding represent for CamboTicket?
R: The funding has been enormous news for the team as it’s a validation of our efforts since CamboTicket’s birth. We have worked very hard to make the business work and the team is very excited about the opportunities that this brings.
There will be a lot of scaling up to do in the coming weeks and months so it will take a lot of work, but it is going to be very exciting to see the progress of CamboTicket, and the team grow with it. Most of the team members joined when they were fresh out of university, so being part of the process from handling 3 bookings a day to the size we are now (and about to become) is very meaningful.
You previously mentioned the possibility of a regional expansion with this funding, could you let us know more about the plans for this expansion and how the funding plays into this?
R: Firstly, the funding will be used to improve our processes in terms of technology: booking systems, operation processes, reports… We will also be investing a lot in branding and local marketing, as we want to attract more and more local customers to our platform: they put the Cambo in CamboTicket!
Consolidation in Cambodia will allow us to look beyond the borders. When we look at countries like Vietnam, Laos or Myanmar, we see some of the same problems that brought CamboTicket about in the first place.
We believe our technological strength is one of our most important features to face the competition from larger players in the region. The improvements that our software systems have brought to the operators in Cambodia can be replicated at a regional level, since the lack of adequate tech is not exclusive to Cambodia. The funding will also allow us to improve further on this to keep delivering to our partners.
How will CamboTicket’s online platform impact the travel sector in the Mekong and Cambodian scene?
R: CamboTicket will aim to be a one stop destination for travellers – both tourists and locals – to book their trips. Like in any other market, prices should be transparent and the information should be clear.
We want to help to connect South East Asia by making travel and tourism more accessible and modern for both operators and users. Tourism is expected to keep growing so this process is all the more necessary.
Where do you see CamboTicket in the next 2 years? Or what do you hope CamboTicket would achieve in the near future?
R: We want to see CamboTicket consolidate in Cambodia, especially with the local population, and then bring this experience to the rest of the region. We believe we have developed a product that works for Cambodia, and we think this can be taken to its neighbouring markets. Being able to replicate this success would be a great achievement for CamboTicket.
After receiving this fund, are there any new developments for the platform that users can look forward to?
R: As I said before, further improving our tech systems is our priority number 1. Our customers are already used to a very up-to-date user interface in our platform. But the new system we are working will be a whole other story… I already said too much!
Stay tuned in the next weeks…
Based on your experience in raising funds, what is the best approach you would recommend for entrepreneurs and startups that are looking for investors to further their businesses or would like to expand regionally?
R: I think the number one challenge for entrepreneurs and startups is scalability. It’s not enough to be doing your tasks well – you have to think about how to lay the groundwork for growth: teams need to be ready for a dynamic workplace and tech has to lead… If you get caught up in the operations of it all you will lose sense of the whole picture.
Cambodia is still a small market, but its dynamism is very encouraging. So dream big, and then make the investors dream with you!
And that concludes our exclusive interview with Mr Ricardo! Congratulations to CamboTicket on receiving this amazing funding, and we are definitely at the edge of our seats to see what new developments CamboTicket will be uncovering for all of us.
To all entrepreneurs out there, remember: ‘Dream big, then make the investors dream with you!”
*Disclosure: Shivam Tripathi, co-founder of Camboticket, is also involved with OBOR Capital, managing OBOR’s investment portfolio.