As technology use has proliferated among Cambodians, businesses have sometimes struggled to keep up. The Post’s Robin Spiess sat down with Sopheakmonkol Sok, CEO and co-founder of web and mobile development company Codingate, to discuss how the country’s businesses can better harness the power of technology.
What does Codingate do?
We assist businesses in streamlining their operations, and help them overcome inefficiencies or help them start using new, tech-based products. We have helped more than 100 companies to digitise their businesses, which has helped them to communicate with their clients more efficiently. We focus on web and graphic design as well as mobile development, and we want to challenge our businesses and help others grow in the hopes they will become leaders in the region.
Codingate began as a Cambodian startup, and has since attracted international recognition for its rapid growth. What has been the key to success?
Finding the right team during the startup phase is important. Sometimes the idea for a business is only 10 percent of the business’s success. In order to be an international company, you need to understand that innovation is important. Technology is always changing and improving. Nowadays, we are a digital society, and we have to adapt to keep up.
When did Cambodian businesses first begin digitising?
Cambodia’s businesses began considering digitisation in 2016. There are two technological advancements that are most important for businesses in Cambodia to adopt, and the first relates to marketing. Before, businesses would only use offline sources like television and newspapers to advertise, but now people have had to move to digital outlets and begin using social media and the internet for marketing. The ways we communicate with clients have changed.
Second – and this is very specific to a country like Cambodia – a lot of entrepreneurs here tend to have multiple businesses. This can be very time consuming, and businesspeople will begin to worry that they can’t create and run more businesses if they don’t have streamlined services for communication, so it’s very important.
Also, with younger people now operating businesses, they’re finding ways to cut costs by using technology. The cost of business is getting lower, and businesses have to keep up.
How has technology in Cambodia been making a difference, and how can businesses continue to adopt these advancements in the future?
Online payment options are maturing, which is a really noticeable step forward. Most banks are offering online payments, and some key players like Pi Pay are bringing technology forward for making online payments as well. Businesses in Cambodia are going to be ready for these changes and advancements sooner than most people think. Businesspeople don’t always need to know how to use different technologies, but everyone should be aware of them and of how they can help.
In order to keep pushing forward, businesses need to be finding talent, because we are seeing a strong need for a skilled workforce and young people are the fastest at adapting. For Codingate, when we begin helping a company, it might take about two or three years until the full technological transformation is complete for that company – but after that, the business basically runs itself. Everything falls into place, and one person can control a lot of things.
That said, for entrepreneurs just starting out, it’s important to know that the startup ecosystem in Cambodia is not really mature yet. When young people jump into starting their businesses, the most important thing for them to know first is the state of the ecosystem, so they can know when and how to grow. Knowledge of the ecosystem allows you to build a strong community and a strong client list.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.