Hackathon #SVToPP Retrospective: Bridging Phnom Penh & Silicon Valley

Hackathon #SVToPP, the first event to connect Phnom Penh and the Silicon Valley, saw youths in Cambodia rise up to create technological solutions.

10 teams of 3-5 members took part at the event held at the University of Puthisastra from 26-27 November. What set this event apart from other events was that the demographics of participants ranged from those in their early teens to those in their early twenties!

For us at Geeks in Cambodia, it’s really encouraging to see youths in Cambodia stepping up and taking the initiative to use technology to create real-world solutions.

At the event, mentors from Silicon Valley Skype-called participants to offer them valuable advice and tips as they embarked on developing their respective projects. On top of the Silicon Valley mentors, members of the Cambodians in Tech (CiT) team also went around to lend the teams a helping hand. Members of CiT that were in attendance included Sokhna Vor (Singapore), as well as Daphnee Lucenet (Silicon Valley), Sophors Khut (Seattle) and Sophaline Mao (Singapore) who were members of the judging panel.

After two intense days of work, teams were required to pitch and demonstrate their ideas to a panel of accomplished judges. Each team stood a chance of winning attractive prize packages which included press mentions, cash and further mentorship opportunities.

The 6-man judging panel included Daphnee, an IT engineer who now resides in the Silicon Valley and works for tech hardware company Springcard, Sophaline, a Partner Programmes Manager at Salesforce, the 6th largest software company in the world and Sophors Khut. The other judges were Rithy Thul, the co-founder of SmallWorld, Sopheakmonkol Sok, the co-founder and CEO of CodingGate and Malypoeur Plong, project manager at Web Essential.

Following an intense deliberation process, the judges awarded prizes in three categories – “Best Project”, “Outstanding Team” and “Promising Team”, to GuideInsider, Flexible Khmer Keyboard and Nhor Nhim respectively.

Team GuideInsider with the organisers of Hackathon #SVtoPP

Team GuideInsider with the organisers of Hackathon #SVtoPP

GuideInsider, a team led by Sokna Ly, is a platform that helps connect tour guides and tourists. This app will also allow tourists to look through a variety of tourist attractions before selecting a tour guide to bring them there. As winners in the “Best Project” category, they walked away with $500 in cash, press mentions and further mentorship opportunities. What’s more, participants at next year’s Hackathon #SVtoPP event will also be able to meet the team as they will be coming back as mentors!

As for the Flexible Khmer Keyboard project, which was awarded the “Outstanding Team” award, it allows users to type Khmer words by using English with Khmer phonetics. In other words, it’s a dual language keyboard that is originally in English but will give suggested words in Khmer.

Finally, the Nhor Nhim project is an exploration by Liger Learning Centre that aims to provide low-cost health information to those living in rural areas. The app also provides information for those who have smartphones and those who do not. Anyone can access the app, and those with skills and knowledge can post/share anything about health in the Learn More section.

Speaking about the event, Maya Gilliss-Chapman, the founder and CEO of CiT said, “It was incredible to see that teams naturally gravitated towards solving problems that either affect them directly, or affect their immediate communities. To me, this indicates that Cambodia’s youth are thinking critically about the world around them and actively contemplating how they can make it better.”

CiT, the organisers of Hackathon #SVtoPP would like to thank SMART, TRYBE and the University of Puthisastra for sponsoring the event and helping it come to life.

Indeed, it’s really great to see Cambodian youths stepping up and capitalising on the digital innovations available in the Kingdom to make their communities a better place!

Want to see more of what went down during Hackathon #SVtoPP? Check out some photos of the event here!