For our third installment of “The SmartStart Journey”, we talked to the Haystome team and heard about how their journey has been so far!

Haystome is a digital platform dedicated to connecting travelers looking for a unique arts experience in Cambodia with the local arts community. Through the platform it would be possible to book various art tours and learn more about the Kingdom’s art, history and culture, and it would also allow users to connect with local artists anytime.

The following interview has been edited for clarity, length and flow.

How do you feel about this win?

Haystome (H): The amount of time and effort that went into working on this business idea really paid off, and we feel really proud of ourselves. We are really thankful to the people who helped us along the way, and gave us their honest opinions and suggestions to improve ourselves.

What inspired your team to come up with this business idea?

Haystome: The inspiration for our team was witnessing many amazing and creative art works of international Cambodian artists in Cambodia. Through our interaction with them, we have had many inspirational conversations and there were many concerns raised about their financial difficulties. This motivated us to turn this societal problem into a business idea, and change the dire state of artists in Cambodia by spreading Cambodian arts to the world.

How has the 3-month programme shape Haystome into the website and business idea it is right now?

Haystome: This is one of the most intensive programmes we have attended so far. Through the patient guidance of mentors who pushed us to keep improving, Haystome has shaped into what it is today as a website. Throughout the 3 months, the mentors have helped us refine our business idea, provided us with the necessary connections, and supervised us to develop the digital platform.

How different is the incubator phase from the first few phases for your team?

Haystome: The incubator phase will be really different. This phase is critical for us as it will have an impact on our financial and business strategy, which will in turn affect the growth of our product in the market.

Do you have any plans to further develop Haystome?

Haystome: We are really enthusiastic to launch Haystome as a digital media platform. But first, we are working to develop the website as well as reach out to the various Cambodian artists and art communities for partnership and most importantly, advertise our service.

What were some challenges you faced as a team and how did you overcome them?

Haystome: Initially, [clashing working styles] affected us badly as we could not come a consensus. However, as time passed and and we got to know each other better we were more receptive to the differing point of views and would discuss to reach an agreement. Another challenge that we faced was trying to find a balance between school work and the project. However, through this programme, we learnt how to manage our time well and the importance of working together as a team.

What is the biggest takeaway from SmartStart Cycle 2?

Haystome: As a team, we have learnt how to develop our business idea as well as how to take leadership decisions, which is useful knowledge that we can apply to our business in the future.

Lastly, do you have any words of encouragement for aspiring innovators?

Haystome: We would just like to encourage all the aspiring innovators out there to rise above what seems impossible and pursue what you believe in. Even though you may face discouragement along the way, don’t let the words affect you, and keep pressing on as long as you believe in yourself.

We at Geeks in Cambodia wish them all the best in the incubation phase, as they proceed ahead to develop their website and share Cambodian art and artists with the world! If you would like to find out more about their service, you can visit their website here and their Facebook page here.

Catch up with the previous interviews of team Somjotteam Malis, team Homex and team Tos Rean or find out more about the Top 5 winners here. Remember to stay tuned on Geeks in Cambodia as we bring you two more installments of “The SmartStart Journey”.