With the conclusion of SmartStart Cycle 3’s final pitch last month, five teams have emerged at the top for the season! As their ideas enter the incubation stage, Geeks in Cambodia is eager to find out more about their SmartStart journey. For our first week, Geeks in Cambodia sits down with Rentech, an application aiding students in renting accommodation in Phnom Penh!
The team shared their progress throughout the programme, and the motivations for their business idea. Read on to find out more!
The following interview has been edited for clarity, length and flow.
How do you feel about this win and how has the 3-month SmartStart journey been for you?
Rentech (R): The journey has been great, we have learned a lot along the way. We have learned a lot about business, tech and even leadership skills from the programme, which we can use to turn our tech idea into reality.
How has the SmartStart programme evolved your business idea?
R: It has changed a lot, because through the programme we have mentors who supplied us with plenty of ideas. We thought about what is the best approach and how we can tackle the hard decisions? The basic concept we had is still largely consistent, which is renting houses to people, frequently students, but we have many features that were added throughout the course of the programme, so we have changed it a lot.
For our readers to understand, what inspired you to create Rentech?
R: We have friends who come to Phnom Penh to study and they struggle to find houses in Phnom Penh because when they first come here, they know nothing about the city. They have had to drive around the city, meeting different people that they have never met before so it was difficult for them. For myself and some of the team, when we first came to Phnom Penh many years ago also faced the same problem. I think by transforming this idea into a reality, then we can help a lot of people, specifically students.
What are some of the challenges faced during the programme?
R: The most difficult one was making changes to the idea. Our idea evolved from one form to another while meeting different mentors, and we had to do research on adding new features. So that was the most challenging in our opinion.
How different were the various stages of the SmartStart journey for you?
R: For the hatching stage, it was not difficult for us, as we already had a solid team formed. But for the Hackathon, we had only two days to complete mock-ups and pitches, so it was challenging for us due to the time constraint. For the bootcamp, it was more like a study session, so it was easier, but often we had to stay up until midnight and it was exhausting. Between the bootcamp and the final pitch, we tried hard to put the ideas in to action and apply the knowledge that they had taught us in bootcamp.
What do you have in mind for your business idea during the incubator programme?
R: Our intention is to make it happen. For our idea, we plan to have an application on mobile, but it takes a lot of time to create that. First of all, we plan to create our minimum viable product (MVP) for the first stage as it would be easier. It also gives us a pilot to test our product first. We hope to launch the application as soon as possible based on the MVP. We want to target more audiences, not only students. We want to also reach out to more landlords in Cambodia as well.
How do you want to differentiate yourself to emerge as the most outstanding team during the incubation programme with Impact Hub?
R: I think for us, we need commitment, we want to launch our product as soon as possible, maybe before other teams, we want to launch it as soon as we can, while producing quality work. This proves that we can be efficient.
Do you have any advice for aspiring innovators?
R: Grab the chance and go with it! I was apprehensive at first because of school, class and exams. But I reckoned that if I didn’t take the chance right then, then when? Because after university we will have work to do, so we won’t have much time. In college years, we should participate in these kinds of programme, to get to know more people and to gain more knowledge.
Once again, a big congratulations to Rentech on their accomplishment, and Geeks in Cambodia would like to wish them all the best as they enter the incubation programme with Impact Hub! We look forward to seeing the great work that they will produce. For more information on Rentech, check out their Facebook page here.
Be sure to check our next feature next week as we catch up with the other SmartStart winning teams. To find out more about SmartStart, visit the SmartStart website or the Smart for Cambodia Facebook page!