Busi­ness in brief

Southeast Asia Globe - - Contents - – Claire Knox

Last month, Sopheak­monkol Sok was one of three Cam­bo­di­ans – the oth­ers were me­dia fig­ure Kounila Keo and so­cial en­tre­pre­neur Daroath Phav – to make Forbes Asia’s 30 un­der 30 list. The list, de­spite its name, picks out 300 of the best and bright­est young lead­ers and startup fig­ures across ten dif­fer­ent sec­tors who are “dis­rupt­ing and chang­ing the faces of their in­dus­tries”. We sat down with 27-yearold Sok, who won a spot on the en­ter­prise tech­nol­ogy list, to find out about his app and web-de­vel­op­ing busi­ness Codin­gate and how Cam­bo­dian star­tups can at­tract in­vest­ment

How did you come to work in tech?

Well I’ve al­ways been a gam­ing geek, a game lover, so that’s why I stud­ied IT. I grad­u­ated from univer­sity with a gen­eral in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy de­gree in Siem Reap, but was lucky to win a schol­ar­ship in 2009 to study in­for­ma­tion man­age­ment in the Czech Repub­lic. I feel like this was a game changer for me, as this broader course al­lows you to then have skills and ex­pe­ri­ence as a busi­ness an­a­lyst.

A few uni­ver­si­ties in Cam­bo­dia of­fer these cour­ses now, but they didn’t back then.

What are some of the chal­lenges star­tups face in at­tract­ing tal­ent?

We were quite lucky to get quite a few big projects roll in. It meant that we all worked in­cred­i­bly hard, and I had to jump in to help with steer­ing the tech­ni­cal stuff. I knew I couldn’t do this and lead the busi­ness for long; I would burn out. So I be­gan re­cruit­ing for a project man­ager. I had a friend who I knew would be per­fect, but it took a lot of time to con­vince him. I had to prove our com­pany struc­ture, our vi­sions, our clear hu­man re­sources man­age­ment and poli­cies, ben­e­fits, se­cu­rity. If a startup can prove those things it’s much eas­ier to re­cruit the best peo­ple.

How can star­tups at­tract in­vest­ment?

More and more Cam­bo­dian star­tups are now get­ting no­ticed and funded – just look at Kh­mer­load – it’s not just big in­ter­na­tion­als that are notic­ing our po­ten­tial but also lo­cal cor­po­rate giants such as Smart Ax­i­ata, which just launched a $5m in­vest­ment fund. What star­tups need to do is due dili­gence. The gift of Cam­bo­dia is that we are young and have so many ideas, but no mat­ter how cool your idea or prod­uct is, if the in­for­ma­tion isn’t clear for in­vestors you won’t get fund­ing.

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