Cambodian Startup KhmerLoad Expands into Myanmar

Clocking in somewhere between 18 – 19 million pageviews a month, Khmerload is one of Cambodia’s top three websites.

Started by Vichet In and his siblings, the website focuses on disseminating socially viral news especially in the areas of entertainment, such as editorials revolving around topics like “how to be confident”, or  any news that might be shocking or that might trigger a reaction.

In August last year, Vichet expanded the business into Myanmar with Myanmarload. Six months later, the website already boasts over 8 million pageviews a month and over 3 million Facebook followers.

Geeks in Cambodia sat down with Vichet (V) to discuss their expansion into the Myanmar market in their position as a Cambodian startup.

The following interview has been edited for clarity, language and flow.

What are some of the key differences between MyanmarLoad and KhmerLoad?

V: The columns for both Khmerload and Myanmarload remain the same – entertainment, social news like local happenings that are going viral, a little bit of editorials on how to make yourself confident or how to do make up in 5 mins and the “OMG!” section where our focus is on news that shocks. In other words, we try to make our content easily sharable on social media.

That means that in terms of appealing to the different markets, our strategy was to bring the best ideas and best practices from Cambodia to Myanmar. As I said, we focus a lot on sharable content so while the categories remain the same, we tailor the news stories for each market by localising them and ensuring that the news being shared took place locally or is directly related to the target market.

How did you build up the Myanmarload following in such a short time?

V: Well we focused a lot on social media strategies so that’s how we started in Myanmar. We first put a significant amount of money into building up our social media presence. In terms of writers, we recruited young Burmese writers through Facebook because I believe that in terms of the type of news we are looking for, sometimes the youths can do it even better than the professionals.

Once our social media had been built up, we then used it as a mass distribution channel for our content. We’ve also implemented a chat-bot that delivers our news to people upon the release of a new article.

The good thing about new media and this focus on social media is that we can get reactions to the content that we share. From there, we can know what is viral and what isn’t . We then tell our staff to pay attention to what is popular, what content is gaining the most traction and we learn over time what works well.

In summary, we executed an intentional social media strategy and capitalised on the audience that brought us to build up our website viewership.

How did you decide that Myanmar would be the market you would expand into?

V: We launched Myanmarload in August and it was around the time the country opened up itself to the world through the elections. Additionally, we believed that Myanmar presented us with a lot of opportunities and possibilities in a space that had less competition as compared to the other regional markets like Vietnam or Indonesia. Furthermore, Myanmar also gave us the opportunity to reach a population that was bigger than Cambodia but had similar market characteristics.

What are some ways you are hoping to improve Myanmarload in the next year?

V: We don’t have an office set up in Myanmar yet, our staff are working remotely or at co-working spaces so we are hoping to open an office in April this year.

Another thing is that we have seen video content getting a lot of reactions from followers so we are going to embark on an initiative to build up more video content. All these work is being done in the eventual hope that we will become the no.1 website in Myanmar.

What advice would you give to Cambodian startups looking to scale up their businesses to the region?

I think my advice would be to tell them that the world is digital and in that sense, the world is pretty flat and reachable. So if your product doesn’t involve high intensity capital, you could always give it a try.

If it’s a digital media platform or something that is digitally based, it typically doesn’t really cost a lot to begin the expansion process so I’d say just try it and learn from it. There’s no doubt that you’ll make mistakes along the way but you can always learn from that.

Another thing for me would be to go out and secure investments. Right now, there’s only been one major investment from angel investors and that was for BookMeBus but I think there is momentum gaining in that area and for sure, I think 2017 will be the year for Cambodian tech startups.

That was our interview with Vichet In, the CEO of Khmerload and Myanmarload. We’re really excited and happy to see Cambodian startups reaching such great heights and penetrating new markets.

2017 does indeed look set to be the year for Cambodian tech startups so stay locked to Geeks in Cambodia for the very latest developments in the scene.