For our fourth week chatting with the SmartStart winning teams, Geeks in Cambodia sits down with the Sers Chborng, an application that brings brand new opportunities for students!
Inspired by personal experience, the Sers Chborng team has created an application to aid students seeking to apply for scholarships, exchange programs or competitions. Sers Chborng offers mentorship support for these high school students, in hopes to link these promising students with the opportunities they deserve.
The team shared the challenges faced throughout the programme, and their hopes for their platform. 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?
Sers Chborng (S): When we first started out, we weren’t sure how we were going to accomplish certain things. We had asked many people about our platform, and the feedback we got was that, ‘Actually if you work hard, and if you are really good at presentations, you’ll make it past the Hackathon stage at most.’ Many people feel that the platform doesn’t actually solve the problem as they thought it was simple and that it wouldn’t generate a lot of revenue. The mentors were trying to be honest with us and that really inspired us to work harder.
How different were the various stages of the SmartStart journey for you?
S: From the Hatch Day to the Final Pitch, our team has been through a lot of stress. Especially in Kampong Cham, our mentors kept questioning us for a lot of aspects, and very often we didn’t know how to answer them. The mentors had really helped us to think outside the box. We needed to go back and forth for many things and it really stressed us out because we needed to think of the solution.
What are some of the challenges during the programme?
S: Building a platform was really not easy, as we had to think in terms of the business model, the stakeholders, how to generate revenue, how to let it scale-up, how to build a financial plan, how to deal with customers. We had to think a lot because when mentors asked questions, we didn’t have convincing answers for them. For instance for the financial plan, we had to make it very convincing for the judges and potential investors, and we had faced trouble even answering the mentors. They had prepared us for many things.
How has the SmartStart programme evolved your business idea and integrated it into the mobile application?
S: We usually go back and forth. When it started it was an application to match mentors and mentees. For now, it is still the same but we do it in a different direction, like within five years we are going to have a forum. For the first year it is going to be a free trial of matching mentor and mentee along with other aspects.
What do you have in mind for your business idea during the incubator programme?
S: First we want to build our mobile application to be user-friendly first. We want to keep updating our features, not to add many new features, but for users to get familiar with our application. Secondly we want to introduce our service to the market and work on our marketing.
For our readers to understand, what was the thought process behind the concept of Sers Chborng?
S: We wanted to tackle the problem, because the problem is something we face ourselves. When we talk about the problem we are putting ourselves in the shoes of the students as well. This is where Sers Chborng comes in, students get to be exposed to those opportunities, such as scholarship opportunities, exchange programmes and competitions.
How do you want to differentiate yourself to emerge as the most outstanding team during the incubation programme with Impact Hub?
S: We have set objectives for ourselves within these six months, and we really want to think outside the box beyond what is expected during the incubation programme. We just want to reach out to more customers as well.
Do you have any advice for aspiring innovators?
S: I would say that go for it, even if you think that the idea isn’t good enough. Because who knows? As long as you try your best you may succeed in ways you’d never expect. Pitch your idea to people, because it may be the answer that will address the problem, maybe it can be an idea that will help many people in Cambodia and beyond.
Geeks in Cambodia is excited to see the impact that Sers Chborng will have on the students in Cambodia, and we look forward to seeing their improvements during the incubation programme. All the best! For more information on Sers Chborng, check out their Facebook page here.
Stay tuned for our last feature next week as we catch up with the final SmartStart winning team. Read about previous features, Rentech, PhumCAKE and SpeakOut! To find out more about SmartStart, visit the SmartStart website or the Smart for Cambodia Facebook page!