Startup Weekend Cambodia

Startup Weekend Cambodia, third edition, is officially announced to take place from November 22nd to November 24th 2013, at Yellow Tower in Phnom Penh.

startup weekend cambodia

For the record, Startup Weekends are intensive global challenges gathering people who nourish a passion for entrepreneurship and startups. Startup Weekends take place in cities all across the globe. In these 54-hour races, participants turn ideas into real projects, and end up defending them by pitching in front of a jury. On the margin of Beyond the competition, Startup Weekends are a time when entrepreneurs looking for advice, inspiration and motivation can meet each other, and also get advice from experimented leaders. Those events gather people with different skills, from business people, project manager to web designers, resulting in a unique experience, making Startup Weekend a key event for every person willing to overcome meaningful challenges.

All the tech savvy people in Phnom Penh are already excited with this upcoming event, but they’re not the only ones. Indeed, although Startup Weekends often highlight Tech-Startups projects, the event remains open to anyone willing to present an idea, or to take part in the competition by joining one of the team.

Willing to share the inspiration, we had the pleasure to hear from Michael Yockney, winner of Startup Weekend Cambodia 2 in 2012 with his project “Hundred words”, and David Wilkie, winner of Startup Weekend Cambodia 1 in 2011 with his project “Chibi”. These pioneers of the Cambodian Startup Weekend edition shared with us the benefits they gained from this experience, along with their advice for future participants.

Geeks in Cambodia : How did you find out about SW Cambodia in the first place, and which reasons pushed you into taking part in this event ?

David : I found out about SW Cambodia, through my friend Darren Jensen, who has been the lead organizer for the past 2 years. He encouraged me to take part in order to validate my idea and potentially find a team.

Michael : I heard about SW when Darren Jensen gave a talk at Nerd Night Phnom Penh. It’s an event where people give talks on anything that interests them, following the Pecha Kucha format. It sounded like fun, so I signed up later that week.

Geeks in Cambodia : Could you please sum up your project in few words ?

David : Chibi is a mobile dating and chat service that helps you find new friends.

Michael : My project was a mobile application for learning the 100 most common words in a new language. Those words actually account for a huge percentage (~50% written, ~30% spoken), so learning them, along with some important phrases using those words, gives a beginner student a great framework to start learning.

Geeks in Cambodia : In your opinion, what were the strengths of your team / project that allowed you to win this competition ?

David : We had 4 members in our team which is an ideal size. If your team is too big it becomes difficult to organize people and make decisions. In addition, our team was quite diverse. We had a marketing person, a person with experience in SMS and mobile technologies and a designer. Also our mentor, Mike Gaetner was extremely helpful and gave us some really good advise and mentorship.

Michael : We were fortunate to have a good range of skills in our team : technical, sales/marketing, graphical design, linguistics… Those skills let us do a variety of tasks with minimum fuss. The project itself was fairly simple, with a clear vision, obvious monetizing strategy, and easily measurable market segments. That made it easy to validate, to estimate and show demand.

Geeks in Cambodia : What did the SW Cambodia  experience bring to you ? Why should people participate ?

David : For me participating in SW Cambodia gave me great experience in making presentations and pitching my idea. It also validated my idea and gave me the drive to go ahead and implement it. It’s also a great opportunity to network and meet new people. If you’re an entrepreneur and already have an idea, SW provides a great forum for you to validate your idea and pitch it. Even if you don’t have your own idea, you can join another team and offer your skills and expertise to try and win the competition.

Michael : I went to SW intending to watch, listen, and learn as much as I could. I spent as much time talking with other teams and the mentors as working on my project, and I cannot begin to put a value on the lessons learned and contacts made. The weekend is a great way to learn how to recognize and quickly evaluate opportunities, encouraging you to “fail fast” rather than investing huge amounts of time and potentially money into a product/service that the market doesn’t want.

Geeks in Cambodia : What would be your recommendations for people taking part in this event ?

David : If you are going to SW to try and win, it’s all about the pitch / presentation on Sunday. You can spend Friday night and Saturday refining your idea, but you should spend most of Sunday preparing your pitch. The more you practice the better chance you have to win.

Michael : For people participating this time around looking for a competitive edge, get your website up on friday night, focus on validating the idea rather than building the product, and build your final presentation as you go. But really, to get the most out of the event, talk to everyone, learn everything you can, and stay on the lookout for anyone you may like to work with in the future.

A warm thank you to both Michael and David for their time, and we hope this will inspire a lot of people and make them want to come and enjoy the event ! If you’re not convinced yet, you can watch the following video about Startup Weekends that will definitely raise your interest for good !

Startup Weekend – Full from Eighteen Eighty on Vimeo.