Phnom Penh, 9th June 2018: Five teams won 4,000 USD and a 6-month incubator program to transform their tech ideas into reality with SmartStart: Young Innovator Program Cycle 2 after impressing judges at the final pitch event with their business models, digital product ideas and teamwork.

Through intensive workshops and expert advice during the Hackathon in Phnom Penh and the Technopreneurship Challenge in Battambang during April and May, the initial pool of 30 teams from more than ten universities across Cambodia were whittled down to 15. Those remaining teams presented their final pitches to a prestigious panel of judges at Sunway Hotel Phnom Penh today.

The five winning teams will now move on to the final phase of the program, turning their ideas into actual businesses or products. Besides ongoing handholding by Impact Hub Phnom Penh as well as Smart Axiata, the teams will gain access to an ecosystem of resources, mentorship, inspiration and collaboration opportunities.

“All the judges today were really impressed with the quality of all the presentations and the desire of these students to transform their initial concepts into a prototype. I urge all the participants to continue pursuing their concepts and contribute towards the booming technovation ecosystem in Cambodia,” said Zoe Ng, Managing Director of Raintree Cambodia.

The five winning teams are:

1 – Haystome is a platform that connects travelers with local artists for a truly authentic experience.
2 – Malis is a booking platform where users can easily book an appointment with a beauty salon.
3 – Tos Rean is a matching platform for tutors and students.
4 – Homex is a mobile application that connects reliable technicians with people who have household problems.
5 – SomJot is a mobile parking application that makes the lives of vehicle and parking-space owners a lot easier.

Sokunthaneth Chhoy, SomJot’s team leader said that reaching this stage was a huge moment for his team: “I am delighted that our digital business concept impressed the judges today. It has been a great privilege to join such an impressive tech innovation program. I would like to thank Smart and Impact Hub for creating learning opportunities for Cambodian universities students like us. I look forward to continue our SmartStart journey.”

During the closing ceremony, both H.E. Dr. Hang Chuon Naron, Minister of Education, Youth and Sport, and H.E. Dr. Kan Channmeta, Secretary of State of Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications congratulated the winners as well as encouraged more young Cambodians to participate in future SmartStart programs.

Both ministries have strongly endorsed the program as well as the hard work and commitment of Smart Axiata and Impact Hub Phnom Penh in making this program thrive. This year, the SmartStart program received further support through the reimbursement received by Smart Axiata from the Capacity Building and R&D Fund.

Smart Axiata CEO Thomas Hundt was delighted with the immense talent showcased during this year’s final pitch: “SmartStart is an annual program that I am always looking forward to as it has unlocked many brilliant ideas and young talents in Cambodia. All 15 teams are the pride of Cambodia. Congratulations to each one of them for their efforts and dedication throughout the first two phases of SmartStart!”

“Smart believes in these young innovators and is proud to kick-start their digital journey. Together with Impact Hub Phnom Penh and other partners, we will be together with them over the next months in making their start-up ideas a reality,” added Thomas.

Alberto Cremonesi, CEO of Impact Hub Phnom Penh, was excited to be part of another edition of the program: “SmartStart has proven to be a great success again based on the diverse ideas discovered throughout the last few months. As Cambodia continues to develop and grow, we need more young people with strong passion to show their talents as well as find ways to turn their thoughts into reality.”

At the end of the 6-month incubation program, the team with the most progress will receive a tech-trip to visit the likes of Google, Microsoft, Facebook and LinkedIn in Singapore.

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