Complementing the bright sunny skies of Sunday afternoon was an equally bright event filled with aspiring youths pitching their shining ideas in hopes of attaining a 4,000 USD cash prize and a funded incubator programme.
The event kick started off with an hour of exhibitions where the 15 teams shortlisted from the first phase of the programme set up booths displaying flyers and banners of their innovations with team members present to answer any of the public’s queries.
Following that was the much anticipated pitching, in which teams walked through their business ideas to a panel of distinguished judges consisting of Thomas Hundt, Chief Executive Officer of Smart; Kanishka Wickrama, Chief Financial Officer of Smart; Zoë Ng, Managing Director of Raintree; Malypoeur Plong, Founder of Stops Near Me and David Sok Dara Marshall, Partner of Mekong Strategic Partners.
The distinguished judges of the Final Pitching – from left to right: Ms. Malypoeur Plong, Mr Kanishka Wickrama, Mr Thomas Hundt, Ms Zoë Ng, Mr David Marshall
Each pitch was backed up by comprehensive slides and explanations of their business idea that they had spent months developing under the mentorship of Smart and industry personalities.
Teams walked through their main business idea, real world problems they are solving with it, along with a pragmatic business model to the judges in only 5 minutes. After which, judges would have another 4 minutes to ask any questions they have for the teams.
From the 15, only 5 teams would be selected for phase 3 where they would immerse in a funded incubator programme and awarded cash prizes. The criteria for the judging were based on the creativity, feasibility, and scalability of the digital product, the strategy of the business plan as well as the disruptiveness of the idea.
The 5 winning teams of Smart Start Final Pitching with their cash prizes and big smiles!
The 5 business ideas that were selected from these criteria are:
- GoSoccer: with a tagline ‘to “kick” start a new trend, this web application allows users to book futsal fields anywhere in Phnom Penh, as well as find friendly opponents to ensure a great game.
- Prestige: To help elevate the common problem of finding the perfect gift, this platform is a service that provides gift consultation based on personality tests, wrapping and delivery that promises to create a pleasant experience for both gift giver and receiver.
- SPARE: A digital platform that fosters a sharing community by connecting space providers with space seekers to provide them with a venue for meetings, events and more.
- Be First: To bridge the communication barrier between locals and foreigners, this mixed platform allows users, such as tourist and expats, to learn basic Khmer by repeating phonics/sounds while learning the cultural etiquette.
- SopheakMongkol: A digital platform that aims to be Cambodia’s first all-in-one wedding planner that enables engaged couples to connect with vendors, send digitized invitations and various other functions that will follow couples from the start of the wedding organization all the way to their subsequent anniversaries.
One of the judges, Zoë Ng, Managing Director of Raintree, commended all the competing teams for their hard work and ideas: “The level of commitment has been amazing to see. I’m very proud of the five exceptional teams that impressed myself and the other judges with the diversity of their ideas and their determination to turn their plans into reality. I look forward becoming a real customer of them soon. This is a very interesting time to be involved in technology innovation in Cambodia. These students are a testimony of the quality of young talent stepping up to the challenge.”
Similarly, Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart, was also highly impressed with the level of competition: “All of them have proved me right that Cambodian students are very talented. All the 15 teams have excited the crowd during their tech innovation pitching today are an inspiration for the nation. Smart is proud to be part of their digital journey. Together with our partners, we will be with them during the next 6 months to help them establish their startups… Smart believes the young generation is the future and we want to unlock and develop their untapped ingenuity. I am very positive that this annual program will continue to generate more ICT talent and resources towards achieving a digital Cambodia.”
He also mentioned that Smart is considering further investments into the most progressive startups. In addition, the team that shows the most improvement in the 3rd phase will also be rewarded with a trip to Singapore to visit the likes of Google, Facebook and Microsoft to gain further valuable tips and advice.
Certainly, the inaugural SmartStart Young Innovator Programme has not been the easiest of journeys, with a Hackathon, a Technopreneurship Challenge and finally, this final pitching, but it is definitely fulfilling. Geeks in Cambodia believes that all students, even those from the original 30 teams in phase 1, have learnt something from this experience, and encourages all to continue pursuing their passion for digital innovations.
We also look forward to the shining future of these 5 winning teams and their business ideas, as well as which team will bag the exclusive trip to Singapore.
Relieve this wonderful event with us in the video below:
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