On an early Friday evening (16 September 2016) as people rushed back home from their long day at work, a group of energetic 50 people flocked their way to a new, modern workspace: The Canopy of Raintree in the heart of Phnom Penh. After dinner, facilitator Mike Michalec walked the participants through the program and agenda and introduced the event concept that inspired many people to start their own journey in building a startup. In other words, it’s the start of the Startup Weekend Education Phnom Penh 2016.
A Startup Weekend alumnus, Soliya Kong, shared his personal experience onhow the 2015 event helped him found Joonaak, a business to customer delivery service. Solya’s personal story about challenges and triumphs inspired many in the audiences who would soon take the same path to found their startup.
As the evening helped set the direction for the participants, also known as Weekend Warriors, to define and refine their offerings to start a business, the next two days enabled teams to produce something more concrete, which is probably “the hardest part of starting up– starting out.” Throughout the event, 12 mentors and coaches helped them stay focused.
During the weekend, 10 teams poured their energy and thoughts into their startups. These are the teams who committed to transforming their early business concepts in running startups: EasyTutor, Read-in, Frich, Yul, Tos Rean, EDU-Medic, Project Camp, SSK (Snadia Seavphov Khmer), Khalture, and Academic Goal.
With these amazing teams, the judges had a tough time selecting the winning teams. However, the event format provided a good opportunity for each team to pitch, which was an interactive demonstration of the excellence. The pitch session is usually very crucial to everyone at this stage. Five judges with business experience and mentorship from successful firms and prominent institutions concluded the 54-hour weekend event. The first winner went to Project Camp, while Tos Rean and Academic Goal got second and third place respectively.
“The recent education themed event in Phnom Penh revealed the rapid progression in the local ecosystem through the quality and quantity of startup pitches on the third day, the judges and attendees were pleasantly surprised!,” said Mike Michalec.
Just like all the Startup Weekend, the Special Education Edition event aims to help them build a fully operating startup, and provides others the bootcamp experience and a network of like minds.
Partially supported by TIGERS@Mekong, a U.S. Department of State-funded program that aims to help accelerate the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Lower Mekong sub-region (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam), this Education theme is part of The Startup Weekend Cambodia’s series to nurture aspiring entrepreneurs to design solutions for social impact, especially in the field of education.