What is a Startup Incubator ?
According to the definition released by entrepreneur.com : “Business incubators are organizations geared toward speeding up the growth and success of startup and early stage companies. They’re often a good path to capital from angel investors, state governments, economic-development coalitions and other investors”
Incubators’ features may vary, most of them offering services such as mentoring, hot desks, networking, advice from experts such as accountants or lawyers… Some of them also facilitate the access to finance, by introducing the Startups they incubate to investors and other funding sources.
Speaking with Cambodian entrepreneurs, startups and business savvy people led us into realizing that many of them were not aware of some of the resources available in the country.
That’s when we decided to introduce KOTRA’s incubator, located in the heart of Phnom Penh, and full of ideas for creative entrepreneurs.
Starting from a business idea and lots of energy, building a startup remains a long and specific process requiring investment, infrastructures and above all : advice. That’s why resources such as incubators can be crucial for startups willing to expand.
We recently met Mr. Kai Park, manager and investment support at KOTRA, an incubator for early-stage companies based in Phnom Penh. This project is part of the activities led by Korean-Trade Investment Agency, a Government Agency acting specifically on the behalf of the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. With offices around the world (Kai explained that any major city in the world actually features a KOTRA office), they act like a cluster supporting SMEs’ expansion in many ways. From helping with market researches, to finding perspectives, and connecting local stakeholders with Korean resources, KOTRA actually supports Korean SMEs in their adaptation to International markets, and acts like a « bridge », between opportunities emerging from local markets and Korean businesses and development programs.
KOTRA’s Plaza (incubator) started in March 2013, and began to concretely operate from May this year in Cambodia. Korean government’s goal is to support entrepreneurship across the globe, with incubators in Hanoi, Jakarta, Phnom Penh (and soon in Dubai). Phnom Penh’s one is a pilot test, aiming at establishing a business platform, by developing a range of business models to foster future development in both Cambodia and Korea. In this regards, programs are offered to support successful development of entrepreneurial companies in the country.
KOTRA’s incubator dedicates its resources to take part in the growth of startup and business ideas from their early stages. KOTRA’s specificity is to focus on business models relying on CSR (Corporate Social Responsability) and CSV (Create Share Value). On top of that, they’re willing to create value for Cambodia as well with Korea, by developing businesses serving both markets’ interests.
KOTRA implements programs in various sectors (IT/Softwares, Agriculture, Green Energy, Health, Climate Change, Fashion/Handycraft, Culture/Art, Franchise and General Business). The incubator currently hosts 10 programs, involving students amongst which are 20 Korean and 10 Cambodian. The incubator provides its “proteges” with business network connections, mentorship related to business models, business plans, but also coworking space features and global business coaching.
Who can apply to the Incubator ?
So far, anyone with a business idea can submit their applications. The idea will then be thoroughly analyzed in order to determine whether the potential is sufficient enough to generate value. It doesn’t matter if the idea is only nascent, the main focus are the scalability and the potential value for both Korean and Cambodian markets. Once granted, the person with the business idea is able to enjoy the benefits of the whole incubator’s resources, and to be paired with other Cambodian and Korean students.
For more information, you can get in touch with KOTRA by email : firstname.lastname@example.org and also follow their latest news on their Facebook Fan page.
KOTRA’s incubator representatives will attend next Startup Weekend in Phnom Penh, so do not hesitate to register now and come to meet them from November 22nd to 24th.