Back in November, we heard from Codingate’s Co-Founder and CEO, Sopheakmonkol Sok not only about his future plans and startup business, but also all about his 3-week IVLP trip in the USA. Together with 4 other prominent tech players in the Kingdom, the team learnt a wealth of knowledge and information that can be applied to Cambodia’s tech market to make it flourish even more.
IVLP, which also stands for International Visitor Leadership Programme, is a prestigious programme for professional exchanges spearheaded the U.S. Department of State. This gives foreign nationals a chance to meet and confer with American businesses and professionals firsthand to exchange knowledge and experiences. Furthermore, since 1994, the U.S. Embassy has sent over 205 visitors from Cambodia to participate in this program; ranging from distinguished guests from the parliament, potential leaders in the government, educators, journalists, economists, human right activists and NGO leaders.
With that, we will be kickstarting a brand new series titled “The IVLP Experience” to learn more about what the individual Cambodian tech leaders who attended uniquely learnt during this trip. Hence, in this instalment of the series, we hear from Langda Chea, CEO of BookMeBus, on his very own experiences and future plans after his exciting stay in the USA!
The following interview has been edited for clarity, length and flow.
What encouraged you to apply for this IVLP trip in the first place?
Langda (L): So far, as I know, I was actually nominated by a few people to the organiser at US Embassy in Phnom Penh.
Can you give us a brief summary of what you have experienced during this programme so far?
L: We went to different states and met with different organisations, ranging from state departments to private sectors such as co-working spaces, incubators, fintech companies and much more. This all allowed us to learn from their experiences and lessons learnt (from their perspective). Likewise, we were able to show them the potential of the market in Cambodia for collaboration and expansion opportunities.
What else have you learnt during the entire trip?
L: What impressed me the most is the public-private partnership part– basically how government sectors work with private ones by addressing real problems happening in their organisations and opening up opportunities for any potential private companies or even startups to help solve their problems.
Besides these impressive works, all of us attending had a wonderful time getting to know each other better and finding synergy in working together towards promoting the sustainability of the startup ecosystem in Cambodia even more, despite being from different sectors.
What was your favourite and the most impactful part of the trip?
L: We went to Washington D.C., North Carolina, Ohio, and San Francisco. In San Francisco, we went to Silicon Valley, where the most unicorn startups have been started. Also, we visited giant tech companies like Facebook and Google, plus some successful startups like InstaCart and Token. This is what I call an eye-opening experience.
Relating it back to your own business, can you elaborate on ways you have been inspired to improve your innovation, work processes and such for the future?
L: From a startup’s perspective, what inspired me the most during the trip was seeing how startups grew from just a few people in the company to hundreds of people today. This shows how they truly addressed the real problems happening in society and engaged in teamwork to tackle challenges. Their growth also shows how they stayed focused on raising funds; so as to disrupt the market and scale beyond the border.
Considering that America is a country with a totally different culture and work processes, what do you think Cambodians can learn from the Americans?
L: Though we are different in terms of development and culture, we can always learn from their success stories and the general know-how; and adapt them into our context.
Are there any upcoming plans or collaborations between you and the rest who attended IVLP after this programme?
L: Absolutely! We met each other everyday during the trip, which rare because we barely have any chance to see each other here in Cambodia. So, we shared our common challenges and came up with a solution that would benefit all tech businesses. Anyhow, it is still being studied and researched upon and we hope to share more once it passes the validation stage.
To find out more information about Langda Chea’s startup, BookMeBus, you can either visit their Facebook page or head straight to their website. Also, do stay tuned to our platform for the coming instalments of “The IVLP Experience”, so as to hear the amazing insights from the rest of the Kingdom’s most innovative minds in tech!