Cambodia Investment Review
Haystack Capital, a service design firm focusing on the intersection of the digital and physical worlds has continued to grow exponentially despite the recent challenges of Covid and the global economic crisis.
With more than 120 committed, passionate young professionals working from their Siem Reap and Phnom Penh offices, the group builds, operates and scales digital platforms and services both in-house and for a range of impressive clients including the nation’s largest banks and telecoms companies.
Together, Khmer-Canadian Founder and Chairman, Mme Linda Phou, alongside her husband and CEO, successful Canadian entrepreneur Frederic H. Proulx, make the perfect power couple, and fully embody the spirit and soul of the company.
Ethical business built by doing good and treating people well
It was Mme Linda Phou herself who made the decision to establish and raise their young family here in Cambodia, and Mr Proulx is very active in the country holding the prestigious title of Chairman of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CamCham).
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Mme Linda Phou and Mr Proulx are on a mission to build a “Honey Empire” – a hugely successful ethical business built by doing good and treating people well, or as Mr Proulx passionately describes it: “My wife and I want to create the best place to work in Cambodia, where love and confidence to grow are bigger motivators than fear of failure. Already we can see the results of all the hard work from our whole team.
“We are committed to the development of Cambodia’s tech sector, supporting big businesses to adapt to new technologies, as well as encouraging the startup ecosystem,” they added.
To date Haystack has invested it’s millions of dollars in three core sectors – tech, agri-tech and real estate – with a primary investment in Canadian firm, Winter Farms, an agri-tech unicorn-in-the-making with a recent $40 million raise and estimated fair market valuation over $150 million.
Haystack labs, the development arm of Haystack Capital is responsible for building Cambodia’s leading event booking app LIVE., and the nation’s financial launchpad for students, Campus. Both of these platforms are now managed in-house by the group’s tech unicorn Wonderpass.
So, how do you find needles in haystacks?
Mr Proulx insists their approach, although unique is quite simple: “We apply the Build, Operate, Transfer (BoT) method. Industry leaders and up-and-coming firms approach us when they have identified shifts or opportunities in the marketplace. We define the business requirements, design and build the solution, operate it to demonstrate efficacy and then transfer to their in-house team.”
Never one to live off past success, Mr Proulx continues to welcome large and medium size businesses in Cambodia and South East Asia to get in touch: “Normally in large companies you have resources and cash, but not the speed or the internal teams to develop new solutions. Startups have the opposite problem, they are lean and agile but without resources. Haystack sits perfectly at the intersection with a well-defined approach, tested team and proven track record.”
The group aims to reach more than 300 companies across the Kingdom and region, providing digital service design for Quality Systems and Core Technology for banks and telecoms, whilst also boosting the nations startups by providing developmental support and financing.
According to the company, expect to hear a lot more from this inspiring group in 2023 as they plan to launch two new products to market in Q1 – GARA, Cambodia’s first roadside assistance app and Hugg, a complete digital monetization tool for social influencers.