Interview: CamboSearch – Tech Service Portal in Cambodia

CamboSearch is a new search engine that gathers technology service providers across Cambodia, and aims to provide easy access to such services. Launching today, Geeks in Cambodia caught up with the Siya, one of the developers as well as Darren, their consultant to find out more about what they do.

This interview has been edited for flow and clarity.

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What is CamboSearch & How was the project founded?

Siya: CamboSearch is a project founded by DI (Development Innovations) together with Darren, who is our Rotati Consultant. We founded the organization because technological companies are hard to find in Cambodia, especially for a service that is suitable for their project. CamboSearch is used to search for all the information-technology companies in Cambodia. For example, if you want to find a company that can specialize on developing mobile applications, you may easily search for it when you come onto CamboSearch.

CamboSearch was part of the practical training when I attended DevBootstrap, something like a demonstration. When we finished the DevBootstrap course, we continued to develop on CamboSearch.

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The Team behind CamboSearch.
Photo Credits : Cambosearch.

What was the inspiration for CamboSearch & Who does it target?

Siya: In Cambodia, we have a lot of technological companies; and to find the one that provides what a client needs, will be very difficult as there are a lot. A lot of the clients or NGOs want to develop a project or a system for their companies, but it is really difficult for them to find a good one. So we try to provide those NGOs/Clients with a portal that is easy for them to find a tech company that is suitable for them.

Darren: It’s actually primarily targeted towards CSOs and NGOs, because it is a USAID funded project through Development Innovations. It’s pretty helpful for any kinds of companies who are looking for people to provide web content, social media content, photography, web solutions, mobile solutions, everything in the tech space, and you guys are in there, Geeks in Cambodia is in there and Endorphine Concept is in there as well.

Did you encounter any obstacles along the way?

Siya: Yes, I just finished my second year of university, and I have never studied Rails technology before but I learnt it from DevBootstrap and after that I had to apply it. We also had a small team. There are 3 of us, me, a developer and a senior developer.

How did you bring the listed companies onto the platform?

We sent out e-mails to those companies that provide the services that are relevant to us and to ask them for permission to put them in CamboSearch. Once they agree, we add them onto the platform.

What are some future plans for CamboSearch?

Darren: We are viewing it as something that will grow overtime, and we are going to invite more and more tech service providers onto the site. We’ve taken the approach of only publishing companies that are actually approved of beforehand. Which means that the number of companies is a little bit limited, because a lot of the companies are perhaps too busy to respond or to check their emails to find out what we are doing.

We are trying to grow it through marketing activities, through Facebook and Twitter or by holding some events; there will be a proper launch event about the site on Thursday (5th November). Through that event, hopefully we’ll get some traction because we are going to be published online. The event will be inviting the end-users to the event, to see the site and start to use it and start to make contacts through the site and hopefully that will go into some traction.

There’s a number of companies that I know of and worked with in the past that have not gotten back to us yet, but I know these people personally, so I’m going to nudge them and to bring them online.

The thing about CamboSearch is that it could be one of the first tech service provider portals in Cambodia. It’s very much focused on showcasing who are the tech service providers here in Cambodia and sort of showcasing the industry.

As Siya was saying, there’s a team of a senior developer and two other developers and at the moment, we’ve got a few tricks and surprises up our sleeves and we will be launching a mobile app in the next week or so. Hopefully within the next two-three weeks.

The current team will just continue to work on that, we don’t really have plans to expand the development team because the project’s relatively small and I think a team of three is enough.

We might want to expand our marketing efforts, to get more and more customers to start using the site and to add/ register your company with us, so if there’s anyone who is looking to be published within CamboSearch, just contact Siya, and she’ll create an account and help them add their data to the site.

Finally, do you have any comments about the start-up scene in Cambodia?

Darren: It can only grow from here I would say, there seems to be a little money coming in now, we were funded basically through USAID /DI so that helped us to do this properly, before we were asked to do this, there was a similar project but there was not much funding for it, so I couldn’t put in three developers like I have now.

If there’s going to be more availability of funding, then that’s certainly going to help our startup community in Cambodia. Also, there’s a lot of very localized startups, like CamboSearch, it’s all about Cambodia, it’s all about searching for businesses in Cambodia, so at the moment, there are a lot of local startups. For example, Khmer smart keyboard, something’s going to happen with them, there are a lot of good things on the horizon and it really just boils down to the availability of money as well as talent. But there’s a lot of talent here already and there are a lot of people here who are already trying to build startups. But if there was just a little bit of money to just back them up, that would really help.

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To find out more about what CamboSearch is, look for their portal here.