For our fourth installment of “The SmartStart Journey,” we chatted with one more Top 5 winner of the SmartStart Cycle 2 Young Innovators, the creators of the Tos Rean digital platform.
Tos Rean aims to help ease the process of students finding a suitable tutor that fits their learning style, with users able to customise their selection based on pricing, subject, and availability. Tutors are able to upload their past teaching experience, achievements and educational background to promote themselves to potential students.
The Tos Rean team shared with us their 3-month journey, their inspiration to create the service, challenges they faced along the way, and some future plans.
The following interview has been edited for clarity, length and flow.
How do you feel about this win?
Tos Rean (TR): All 15 teams that participated in the final pitching did really well; each business idea was unique and every pitch was strong. We are very happy that our efforts are paying off, and extremely proud of ourselves for making it this far.
What inspired your team to come up with this business idea?
TR: We noticed the common problem high school students were facing; sourcing tutors. Some spend up to 2 months looking for a tutor, while others were not able to ever find any. However, we also noticed that university students have the skills and passion to teach. Therefore, we came up with the idea to pair and connect high school students to university students, bridging the gap to make up for the lack of tutors in Cambodia.
How has the 3-month SmartStart journey been?
TR: It was challenging for us at the beginning as none of us had any prior knowledge or background in business. All of us are pursuing education in either the engineering or information technology fields. We had many assignments, term projects, teaching and volunteering along the way which took up time. However, our mentors have been patient in guiding us through these 3 months. Our biggest takeaways from SmartStart Cycle 2 are the business lessons and mentoring.
I understand that all of you are currently studying in University, how do you handle both SmartStart and school concurrently?
TR: Knowing how to prioritise was the key to how we juggled our studies and SmartStart. We reduced the time spent on social media and activities that were not necessary such as gaming, shopping, or hanging out with friends. For our studies we made a schedule, keeping our abilities and health in mind, and we spent the time we had left on SmartStart. Though we did skip a few classes, we made sure that we sought help from our professors and friends.
How has the 3-month programme shaped Tos Rean into the digital platform and business idea it is right now?
TR: During the 3 months with SmartStart, we learnt a lot about business, including market validation, generating a financial plan, working as a team, creating a digital platform, pitching and more. SmartStart is the best competition platform for young people who have the passion and ideas to create a startup that could make a differences in the Cambodia society
How different is the incubator phase from the first few phases for your team, and what are some of your plans to further develop Tos Rean?
TR: The first few phases were mostly for us to build on our business model and prototype. However, the incubation phase is for us to focus on putting our business into operation. We plan to update our website to make it more user-friendly and source potential partnerships to expand our business.
What were some challenges you faced as a team and how did you overcome them?
TR: One major challenge that we faced was communication. Individually, we had differing opinions and ideas for the project. However, we would meet up as a team to discuss and decide on the best idea that would fit the project best.
Lastly, do you have any words of encouragement for aspiring innovators?
TR: Robert De Niro once said, “Time goes on, so whatever you are going to do, do it. Do it now. Don’t wait.” If you have an idea, commit to it and turn it into a reality. Whenever in doubt, don’t be afraid to seek clarification from the experienced. The process is a learning journey where you will gain new knowledge and seek new improvements.
The Tos Rean team is clearly filled with passion and they take pride in whatever they do, and from everyone at Geeks In Cambodia, we wish the team all the best as they proceed to the incubation stage. For more information on Tos Rean, you can visit their Facebook page here or website here.
Don’t forget to stay tuned on Geeks in Cambodia as we bring you the last installment of ‘The SmartStart Journey’. You can read more about Team Malis, Team Somjot, Team Haystome and Team Homex or about the Top 5 winners here.