Mekong Innovative Startup Tourism Accelerator Programme has announced its Cambodian Finalists!

Exciting news has landed on Geeks in Cambodia’s doorstep, and as always, we are here to share it with you!

Organisers of the Mekong Innovative Startup Tourism (MIST) accelerator program have announced the 12 startups that have made it to the finals and earned themselves a precious pitching spot at the Mekong Tourism Forum.

The startups who made it to the finals! 

These 12 startups hail from the Lao PDR, Myanmar, Vietnam and excitingly, Cambodia. When we first heard of this, the first thought that ran through our geeky minds were: which Cambodian startups made it?

If you had the same thoughts as us, have no fear, because our article is here! Of the 12, three of them were Cambodian startups and they include:

  • BookMeBusWith an interesting backstory of being an innovation that was born from a particular bad travelling experience, BookMeBus is an online platform that connects travelers and bus operators in real time. It is a platform that helps bus companies fill their seats and for users find the most cost-effective ways to easily get around the region
  • CamboTicket – A convenient all-in-one platform that aggregates bus, ferry and private taxi bookings around Cambodia and Laos into one platform, CamboTicket creates an even playing field for over 40 operators.
  • GuideInsiderA platform that was inspired by the founder’s travel to Bangkok, GuideInsider offers comprehensive in-country guidance on local sights and activities, including history, opening times, available tour guides, possible tour packages and user reviews.

Startups were chosen by industry experts from a pool of 250 applicants spanning travel technology solutions, traditional tourism products, hospitality projects and social enterprises. The qualifying startups then attended a three-day training and evaluation program from 5to 7 May in Siem Reap, and were mentored by various industry experts such as: Amadeus Next, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Buffalo Tours (TMG), Clickable Vietnam, Entrepid Advisors, Gobi Ventures, the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO), and

Startups had the opportunity to be mentored by industry experts

“In addition to conventional evaluation criteria, the startups qualifying to pitch at the Mekong Tourism Forum were also assessed on socioeconomic factors such as contribution to responsible tourism development of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), employment of local people especially women, and inclusive growth,” explained MIST Co-creator Jens Thraenhart.

But the grand prize lays in the pitching that the startups will conduct at the Mekong Tourism Forum held from 6 to 9 June in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR.

The Mekong Tourism Forum is an annual platform for public and private sector stakeholders to discuss the development, marketing and promotion of travelling to, from and within the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). At this forum, the 12 qualifying MIST startups will present their business plans to their wide audience of the media, investors and an expert judging panel, earning them a chance of recognition and investment for their startup.

However, only four will come out tops and be awarded innovation grants of $7,000 to $10,000 USD.

“Cambodia, the Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam are all counting on tourism to contribute to their economic growth and socio-economic development. While governments can provide favourable policy conditions for tourism development, startups must do the hard work of enticing tourists, creating jobs and generating income. MIST has proven that the region’s startups are up to the challenge,” said Dominic Mellor, head of the MBI.

Geeks in Cambodia couldn’t agree more! The Mekong scene has proven to be bursting with an abundance of potential from promising startups, and to see Cambodian startups being groomed and accelerated under the MIST programme makes us look forward to what new innovations and features they will bring to Kingdom.

We would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate the other 9 startups that made it to the finals, and are beyond excited to know which four of the twelve startups would be awarded the grants. You can be certain that once we get news of that, we’d be right back here announcing it!

The 9 other startups that qualified for MIST include:

Artisan Origins by TAEC – Lao PDR – Artisan Origins offers authentic, high-quality crafts from rural ethnic communities in Lao PDR, a café and information center about visiting handicraft communities, and displays about the ethnic groups, cultural context and techniques demonstrated through the crafts.

Bayo – Vietnam – Bayo’s mission is to help Vietnamese make the best travel decisions by helping them find the right travel information, right suppliers, right products and prices, and to transact with local suppliers easily.

I Love Asia – Vietnam – I Love Asia offers women-led motorbike tours of Hoi An and Hue while supporting projects for disadvantaged communities in the cities where they operate.

Dichung – Vietnam – Dichung uses technology to promote low-impact rideshare transportation options, giving drivers the chance to trade free seats in their vehicles, and working with taxi companies to develop vanpools.

Chameleon City – Vietnam – Chameleon City is an on-demand chat-based service providing travel and lifestyle answers from local experts, 24/7.

ezStay – Myanmar – ezStay offers hotel reviews and instant booking confirmation, including for hotels and guesthouses without an online presence, broadening and simplifying accommodation bookings for travellers in Myanmar.

GoP – Myanmar – GoP is an online tour platform amassing providers and options into one place, offering high-quality service, reliable bookings and instant confirmation.

Ma Te Sai – Lao PDR – Ma Te Sai preserves cultural heritages while developing skills and offering employment options for youth in Nambak through tourism to unique TaiLue villages via a multipurpose information center and roadside café.

Morning Rooms – Vietnam – Morning Rooms is Vietnam’s largest budget hotel network, helping economical tourists find the right quality rooms for the price they need.