For our second installment of “The Journey Of: Technovation Cambodia 2018,” we sat down with Team Estrogen, the winners of the People’s Choice Award and the creators of the TutorKH mobile app.
TutorKH aims to connect students to quality certified teachers for extra lessons and tutoring. The app features a rating system that allow students to provide feedback on the teachers.
Team Estrogen shared with us their 12-weeks journey at Technovation Cambodia, their future plans, and some challenges they have faced while developing the app.
The following interview has been edited for clarity, length and flow.
Congratulations on your achievement at Technovation Cambodia 2018! How do you feel about being People’s Choice Award?
Cheam Monkolraksmey (CM): I feel really grateful because we didn’t think we were going to win the People’s Choice Award. Honestly, we thought we were going to lose as we did not get as many likes as we thought we needed.
Sang Sopheakpognreasey (SS): I feel really thankful for winning the People’s Choice Award meant that the community will support us throughout the development of our app.
Liev Jennifer (LJ): We were all pretty excited when we won. During the last few minutes of voting, the ‘likes’ for one of the other teams was getting pretty close, and we honestly ran out of hope for a while.
How was the experience like during the 12-week intensive program?
CM: It was a really great experience because we had the chance to spend time and learn more about one another, and also learnt how to do things like surveys and writing code.
SS: We have learnt a lot about coding, group discussion and better understanding one another’s working styles. Sometimes we argue but at the end of it, we talk it out and everything is good.
LJ: I think the greatest part of the whole experience was interacting with people from other schools and seeing some of the problems they face in their lives.
I understand that all of you are still studying in high school, how did you cope with schoolwork and the 12-weeks program concurrently?
CM: For the first to third weeks, we had some difficulty adjusting and managing our time but from the fourth week onwards we knew exactly when we should code and when we should set aside time for our homework.
SS: The 12-weeks programme has made me feel more responsible. It is like making up a career at a young age, and a good practical test for the future me.
What inspired your team to come up with TutorKH mobile application?
CM: We found out that the students here have a difficult time to connect with both teachers and tutors. Sometimes, even if the teacher teaches very well, students may not approach the teacher as he or she is not famous. Therefore, we created the app not only for students to connect with teachers, but also for teachers to have students.
SS: We created the app also based on our own experience. There was once that Jennifer wanted to find a Chinese tutor, but was not given any choice of which teacher suited her the best. So we created the app based on that experience as well.
LJ: Students here are inclined to learn not just Khmer, but English and Chinese as well. We only get eight hours of school daily, and if you compare it with other countries which study only one main language, it is actually a lot for us students to cram in. Hence, TutorKH will be of extra help to students needing tutoring for their other languages.
How have the skills taught in Technovation shaped TutorKH to be the mobile application it is now?
LJ: We learnt about the needs of our society. Whether you come from a higher or lower-income family, students still need to pursue an education and require external help for their studies. Most of the companies that offer tutoring services do not provide us with choices. Therefore, we shaped TutorKH to be an application that could provide students such opportunities.
What are some challenges that you have faced and how did you overcome it as a group?
CM: The weeks closer to submission, we were running out of time and were behind schedule. To complete our work on time, we had to go to bed at around 12am and had extra meetups on Saturdays. Thankfully, we had the help and assistance of our mentor.
SS: One of the challenges that we also faced as a group was group discussion. We all had very different ideas and sometimes took a long time before reaching a common consensus.
What is your biggest takeaway from Technovation Cambodia 2018?
CM: The biggest takeaway is our teamwork.
Do you have any future plans to improve TutorKH mobile application?
LJ: We would like for professionals to take over the development of our app, while we will be in charge of business plans. According to the 600 students and 152 teachers we have surveyed, we would like to upgrade our app to better suit our users’ needs before starting our marketing plan of creating promotions.
Where do you hope to move together towards as a team?
LJ: As of right now, we would like to concentrate on our Grade 12 exams before creating the app. Our end goal would be to spread our app to other countries as well.
Lastly, do you have any words of encouragement you would like to give to aspiring female innovators?
CM: No matter how hard it is, you must try hard to be successful.
SS: In today’s society, not only boys but girls can be interested in technology. In Technovation, it does not matter whether you lose or win but the experience you gained from technology. I have learnt a lot about business and met many new friends.
LJ: I think it is good for girls especially to always give things a chance, because the three of us, we went in not knowing anything about business or coding. But at the end of the day, we still came up with a mobile application. It might not be the best compared to other teams, but there is always a next time to try again. We hope to go to Technovation 2019 and work on TutorKH and make it better.
There is no doubt that Team Estrogen have big dreams, and are determined to make them become a reality. Their passion and drive to make TutorKH flourish into a mobile app that will change the lives of students and tutors is commendable. From everyone at Geeks In Cambodia, we would like to wish the Team Estrogen team all the best.
Stay tuned to Geeks In Cambodia as we bring you on two more installments on the Technovation winners 2018. If you missed last week’s interview with Tech Girls Cambodia, you can read more about it here, or learn more about the four winners here.