SmartStart Hackathon: 2 days of Prototyping, Development and Testing

The month of April was a whirlwind of tech and startup events, and ending off the spectacular month with a bang was SmartStart’s Hackathon. This Hackathon was the conclusion of the phase 1 of the SmartStart Young Innovator programme.

Here’s a little recap –  SmartStart is a 9-month programme organised by Smart Axiata for university students to develop their tech business ideas into viable businesses. Separated into 3 phases, the first phase saw Smart hosting workshops at 4 targeted universities to generate interest and encourage students to submit online applications for this programme.

The top 120 applicants selected from these applications then move on to “The Hatch”, where those identified as team leaders were invited to pitch their ideas, and 30 teams were formed based on interest and skills.  

Teams during the prototyping phase of the Hackathon, attentively listening to a talk by guest speakers. 

Hosted at Raintree, the 2-day Hackathon started off with intensive productions of prototypes and development of their digital business ideas under the guidance of inspiring speakers, tech experts and mentors from Smart. Teams also went on the streets to test their business concept with the public, allowing them to gather constructive feedback and develop their business ideas further.

The university students from various teams after concluding 2 days of intensive prototyping and pitching at the Hackathon. 

At the end of the second day, all 30 teams presented their business ideas to a panel of esteemed judges, and under their critical eye, 15 were shortlisted to proceed on to phase 2, the Technopreneur Challenge.

To be hosted at Battambang from 11 to 15 May, this 5-day challenge is shaped around the fundamentals of ideating and growing a digital startup. The aim of the challenge is to help teams recognize, evaluate and capitalize on opportunities while understanding the importance of rapid prototyping.

With a focus on “learning by doing”, teams will go through high-level digital training and exposure to the fundamentals of back-end and front-end software tools. They will also have the opportunity to network with guest speakers, mentors and fellow entrepreneurs to learn first hand from the experiences of those who have succeeded in the field.

Phase 2 will yet again conclude with a pitching event, where only 5 of the most outstanding digital entrepreneur team will proceed to the grand prize: a 6-month funded incubation programme.

“SmartStart: Young Innovator Program was created to provide young Cambodians more opportunities to realize their digital ideas. We envision that this program will provide them technopreneurship knowledge, mentorship and funding through a nine-month program which will give them the correct tools to realize their tech business ideas. Through this program, all university participants who go through the different phases of ideation, acceleration and incubation with experienced speakers and mentors, will be well-equipped to play an active role in the technopreneur, start-up and digital space with Smart in future,” says Thomas Hundt, the CEO of Smart.

Indeed, simply from the first phase of SmartStart, we already have no doubt that it definitely has and will continue to fulfill the programme’s vision.

Geeks in Cambodia would like to congratulate the 15 teams of 60 students that have made it through not one, but two rounds of selection. With the Technopreneur Challenge looming close, we wish them all the best in reaching Phase 3 and making their business dreams a solid reality.

For more updates on the SmartStart programme, do stay locked onto our site or follow us on Facebook to never miss another tech event! Check out the recap video for SmartStart as well to get a full, visual picture of what went on: