Cambodia Investment Review

Rean Podcast: Rising Giants on Showcasing Cambodian Startups & Launching Their Own Investment Holding

Rean Podcast: Rising Giants on Showcasing Cambodian Startups & Launching Their Own Investment Holding

Cambodia Investment Review

Cambodia’s investment and startup scene is experiencing new wave of transformation, led by innovative players like Max Thornton and Dom Kalousek, co-hosts of the Rising Giants podcast and the newly launched Satori Giants fund. In the latest episode of Cambodia’s number one podcast ‘Rean Podcast’, hosted by Rean Thort the trio spoke about the importance of showcasing Cambodia, what it means to be a content creator in the local market, and the intricacies of building a business in the challenging yet promising markets of Southeast Asia.

Rean Thort started the discussion by inquiring about the language dynamics in podcasting and business interactions, particularly between Khmer and non-Khmer speakers. Max and Dom, acknowledging their ongoing efforts to learn Khmer however also stressed the strategic choice of using English for their podcast. “Our aim is to engage with the global business and investment community. While translators can bridge some gaps, it’s crucial that our message and the essence of our guests’ insights are conveyed accurately and authentically,” said Max.

The Untapped Potential in Cambodia & Southeast Asia

Max, originally from the UK, shared his global upbringing and diverse experiences in countries like the US, Dubai, and Kenya. “My journey across different cultures and economies made me realize the untapped potential in Southeast Asia. Cambodia, in particular, struck me with its vibrant energy and the myriad of opportunities it presents, distinct from the UK’s stable yet conservative business environment,” Thornton reflected.

Read more: Unpacking Cambodia’s Startup & Venture Capital Ecosystem: Insights from ANGKOR 500

Rean Thort.

Dom’s path to Cambodia was equally international, with experiences backpacking in South America before his pivotal journey to Southeast Asia in 2016. “The cultural richness and growth possibilities in Cambodia were eye-opening. It’s a nation bustling with potential, and after a few years back in the US, I felt a strong pull to return and immerse myself in its impact investing landscape,” he recounted.

Discussing the local startup scene, Max observed a trend unique to Cambodia – businesses often hinge on the vision and drive of a single founder. “This model can be a double-edged sword. It’s inspiring to see such personal commitment, but it also means that if the founder pauses, the entire venture can stall,” he explained.

Quality or Price a Unique Challenge For Startups

The conversation then shifted to consumer behavior in Cambodia. Thornton highlighted the challenge businesses face with price-sensitive consumers, where quality often takes a backseat to affordability. “While discerning quality is universal, the prioritization of it varies. In Cambodia, affordability often trumps quality, which poses a unique challenge for startups aiming to compete on quality rather than price,” he noted.

Dom and Max also discussed the evolution of their podcast, from its humble beginnings to a well-equipped studio setup. “Our initial episodes were rudimentary, leveraging online tools and battling inconsistent internet. But over time, we’ve upgraded to a professional studio, enhancing the quality of our content significantly,” Dom shared.

Dom Kalousek.

The Rising Giants podcast, started amidst the pandemic, has now evolved into a significant influencer within the startup ecosystem. The hosts emphasized the balance they strive to maintain in their shows. “It’s about spotlighting our guests and their journeys, rather than centering ourselves. We delve deep into their stories, avoiding overly opinionated narratives to keep the focus on their experiences,” Max added.

Satori Giants, An Investment Fund Aimed at Empowering Startups

Looking to the future, they revealed their recent news of launching Satori Giants, an investment holding aimed at empowering startups primarily in Cambodia, Thailand and Singapore. “The fund is a natural extension of our work with Rising Giants. We’ve built a robust network and gained insights into the common challenges startups face here. Satori Giants is our way of contributing more tangibly to the ecosystem,” Dom explained.

Read more: Investment Strategies for Cambodian Startups During Economic Challenges: Insights from the Techo Startup Center Digital Business Expo 2023

Max Thornton.

Max and Dom also expressed their admiration for Cambodia’s transformative energy and the progressive mindset of its new generation. “There’s a palpable sense of change and openness to new ideas here. It’s what makes Cambodia not just a place of business, but a source of inspiration,” Max concluded.

Their story, as shared on the Rean Thort Podcast, is a testament to the power of media in shaping business landscapes and the pivotal role podcasts like Rising Giants play in spotlighting and supporting the entrepreneurial spirit in emerging economies like Cambodia.

Listen to the full podcast here.

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