Interview: SEA Makerthon Winners Team Rat Hunter

Four like-minded, determined individuals – Chanthy Leang, PauvRachana Phauk, Likun Meas and Lydet Pidor, banded together over an intense three day period to come up with a solution to tackle a problem that is faced by many farmers in Cambodia – crop destroying rats.

Their solution was simple – install a device in the field that emits the sound of the rats’ predators and set traps to capture the rats alive, keeping the crops protected.

Since winning the Makerthon, the team has been consistently working on the project, teaming up with ARC Hub to 3D-print the device, joining Impact Hub’s EPIC incubator programme and doing field tests which have shown promising results.

This weekend, they’ll be headed to Singapore to compete in the SEA Makerthon grand finals. Geeks In Cambodia caught up with two members of Team Rat Hunter, Chanthy and Likun, to find out more about the project and understand their plans moving forward.

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

On a personal note, how did you get involved in the “Rat Hunter” project?

Chanthy(C): The idea of solving the rat issue has been around for quite awhile given my background in agriculture. he inspiration came about as the current methods for trapping rats destroyed some of the crops even though they were effective.  To improve on this idea,it occurred to us that perhaps, the rats were afraid of the sound of their predators.

Likun (L): For me, I was simply inspired to join the team by Chanthy’s storytelling. Her persuading me that this was a worthwhile project to join was a big reason for it. She made me realise that we could make a difference for farmers in Cambodia.

Through the competition, what were some challenges you faced?

C: I think the most difficult moment for me through the competition was that I knew the problem and I knew what solving it would look like. However, I had no idea how to execute the solution.

L: To be honest, I felt lost during the competition.

But understanding the direction from Chanthy, I began to do research about the topic and gained a better understanding of the problem and was able to contribute to the team that way.

How did it feel like to win SEA Makerthon Phnom Penh?

L: It was really unexpected.

C: Yea, It was unbelievable. There were so many other great groups and great ideas. I never thought we’d win. After all, I only came to the Makerthon intending to gain exposure to the community while learning and networking.

What are your hopes for your time in Singapore and for the future of this project?

C: We hope to win. But even if we don’t, I still think it’s a great opportunity to network and maybe meet more people who are willing to help with the project.

My hope for the project would be that the device can develop into something that is easily adoptable and effective in the long run, so that farmers can use it to help them improve their crop growth.

L: For me, the short term goal is to win. But, when we come back from Singapore, my hope will be that even though we will all be busy pursuing our careers, we will continue to stay united as a team and work on this project to improve it even more.

How can people come alongside to help you?

C: Well right now, we need more people with technical expertise. A sound engineer, to work on the sounds of the predators, a coder to develop and adapt software for the device and someone who is able to get the device made as well.

And, if we were to think really big picture, we would need someone with business experience to help us.

One last question, what advice do you have for aspiring innovators?

C: My advice would be, just go. Before I joined the competition, many people doubted me and asked what I was doing there but I went anyway.

I think it’s also important to believe in the idea that you have, and focus on how this idea could make a positive impact to people’s lives if it eventually comes true. Use that as an encouragement to push you forward.

Well, that’s GIC’s interview with Team Rat Hunter. The team will be flying off to Singapore tonight to compete in the SEA Makerthon grand finals and we wish them all the best!