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Cambodia’s startup community says greater collaboration is key after conducting delegation trip to Israel

Harrison White

Cambodia’s leading entrepreneurs have gathered to discuss the importance of more collaboration for the success of Cambodia’s tech sector after a recent study tour to one of the world’s leading tech startup centers Israel.

The tour in September was hosted by the Cambodia Israel Chamber of Commerce (CICC) with the support of Khmer Enterprise, a unit under the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and the Israeli Embassy.

The delegation included five days of meetings between Cambodian delegates and their Israeli counterparts in the tech innovation sector to Explore the Israeli tech sector development model and open a door for future bilateral collaborations.

To read more about the study tour to Israel click here.

Leading Cambodian entrepreneurs attended the sharing session.

The delegation had a total of 16 Cambodian delegates  representing a wide range of stakeholders from the Cambodian tech sector, and was planned as a platform that aimed to connect actors from the two countries’ sharing dynamic backgrounds, and allow them to meet and potentially access each other’s network, available resources, skills, and technology.

The panel discussion was moderated by Moran Hadad and included:

  • Chy Sila (Sabay Digital)
  • Vireak Chea (PillTech Solutions)
  • Chea Langda (BookMeBus)
  • Sam Kosal (Business Cambodia)
  • Ty Rady (Khmer 24)
  • Khy Tykea (TK Express)

Moran Hadad an Israeli-born social entrepreneur and President of the Cambodia – Israel Chamber of Commerce (CICC) told Cambodia Investment Review after the event that it was paramount the startup community understands the importance of collaboration for the success of the tech sector’s development aspirations.

The Israeli Chamber in Cambodia has as a primary goal to be an active player in supporting the extraordinary development efforts done by the Cambodian private and public sectors.

“Cambodia has many actors doing great things but is lacking the structure that will allow those actors to work in accordance with each other, pushing the wagon in the same direction. The CICC wishes to play a catalyst role, promoting collaborations by actively supporting and promoting the activities of the relevant stakeholders,” Moran said.

Young entrepreneurs also attended as guests.

“The understanding of the important role failure is playing in success, by the entire spectrum of the sector’s stakeholders, is also a crucial element in the future development of the sector, the capacity to fail fast, embrace the lesson, and go at it again, relentlessly is key,” he added.

According to Moran success as an industry will be measured by the global impact achieved, and not by the failure rate it took to achieve it.

Investors and startups must understand each other

Chea Langda, founder of the online booking system BookMeBus commented that a startup founder in Asia should know that to successfully get one Venture Capital (VC) in the funding round they will need to at least knock the door of at least 50 different relevant VCs and get rejected by at least 49 of them.

“As for an investor investing in seed funding stage startup they should know that their expected return on investment is between 5 and 7 years. Not knowing this, the investor would set high expectations over their investment and turn to be trouble for the investees instead of helping,” Langda said.

The panelists had all attended the recent study tour to Israel.

“In Cambodia, I think without knowing this practice, both startups and investors tend to never be able to work or grow together I think,” he added.

Vireak Chea sent a message towards Cambodian investors saying that when you invest in early-stage startups you need to focus on the founders, not only providing them with the money, but also networks or assistance to scale up the company.

To read more about PillTech’s hopes on changing pharmacy culture in Cambodia click here.

It takes time to develop a community

Chy Sila founder of the digital news and entertainment group Sabay Digital also reflected on the need to build a stronger and better ecosystem that fits Cambodian startups however added the community had to be practical with its expectations.

“Israel has been building their Startup nation 40 years ago, however clearly we can see there are lots of things can learn from the Israeli startup ecosystem, from the private sectors, academia and the public sectors. We have to learn to accept that there are things to improve in each sector,” Sila said.

Guests and panelists were able to network after the sharing session.

Cambodia is continuing its long-term vision of becoming an upper-middle-income country by 2030 and ultimately a high-income country by 2050; implementing the Cambodia Digital Economy and Society Policy Framework 2021-2035.

The framework aims to build a vibrant digital economy and society by laying the foundations to promote digital adoption and transformation in all social actors including the state, citizens, and businesses, to accelerate new economic growth and promote social welfare in the new normal.

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