Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - The smart money’s on startup apps

The smart money’s on startup apps

WOW! Siem Reap takes users to top spots
WOW! Siem Reap takes users to top spots. PHOTO SUPPLIED

The smart money’s on startup apps

Cambodia’s smartphone revolution is proving to be fertile ground for tech-savvy entrepreneurs with bright ideas

Cambodia might be a rookie in the tech game, but industry insiders say it’s just warming up.

As mobile users grow exponentially, foreign companies enter the market and tourists flock to the Kingdom, local startups are devising apps that streamline pen-and-paper services and tap into new niches.

“This is an exciting time,” said Samuel Ng, innovations adviser at Development Innovations. “Apps are still in their infancy, but they’re probably going to thrive and feed into themselves in a couple of years.”

According to Ng, several Cambodian startups have already piqued the interests of Singaporean, Thai and Chinese investors - not surprising, given the runaway success last year of the addictive puzzle game Asva the Monkey. Some newer offerings, too, boast loyal and growing followings.

Asva the Monkey takes a festive detour from his natural habitat.
Asva the Monkey takes a festive detour from his natural habitat. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Here, Post Weekend looks at five apps created by local startups that you should watch out for:

StreetFoodies
Appropriately named StreetFoodies, this upcoming app aims to provide a comprehensive roster of Phnom Penh’s street food stalls. Users can pin their new epicurean discoveries on the map and share it with fellow foodies. They can also search around their current location for nearby street food stalls. The team behind the app, who won this year’s Startup Weekend “hackathon”, also plans to create a food tour program where users can charge money to take tourists on trips to their favourite haunts.

Tour bookings can be made through the app.

“We also want to engage the locals, foreigners and tourists, and have them share their food experiences,” said StreetFoodies team leader Touch Sopor.

Sopor said they plan to launch the app next year.

SnappyShop
The guys at SnappyShop have made it their mission to make buying and selling easier. Anyone with something to sell can post a photo of a product (with price included) through the app or website. The photo is then promoted on a mobile marketplace and the user’s various social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and, soon, Pinterest. Running on the Android OS, SnappyShop filters new and used products into different categories and cost brackets to help consumers single in on that coveted gadget or item of clothing.

Uch Saoath, one of the team behind SnappyShop
Uch Saoath, one of the team behind SnappyShop Charlotte Pert

“We want to improve the way people in Cambodia shop,” said SnappyShop programmer Uch Saoath. “Everyone’s getting busier, so we want to make it easier for them and also allow them to sell their products overseas.”

The app also provides a live chat feature where buyers can haggle with sellers. SnappyShop’s website is already live and growing with more than 600 users. The mobile app will launch at the end of November.

Bongloy
Dubbed “Cambodia’s PayPal” by creator Dave Wilkie, Bongloy aims to simplify electronic payments for merchants and consumers. The app, which can be accessed through any mobile browser and is linked to the user’s bank accounts, eliminates the need for credits cards and staggering transaction fees. To pay, users will enter their username on the app and enjoy a paperless transaction.

Bongloy has already forged partnerships with electronic payments company WING and other microfinance companies in Cambodia. According to Wilkie, the app will launch early next year.

WOW! Siem Reap
WOW! Siem Reap gives users a different view of the home of Angkor Wat. The free platform runs through WeChat, which is compatible with any smartphone, and allows tourists or even residents to browse through a wide range of activities and places to eat and drink handpicked by the developers. WOW! Siem Reap also offers users a discount card for specific haunts. The app specifically targets Chinese tourists in the province, but the startup plans to expand its reach all over Cambodia after securing more funding. WOW! Siem Reap launched in early November.

StreetFoodies directs users to gastronomic hotspots that aren’t listed on Google Maps.
StreetFoodies directs users to gastronomic hotspots that aren’t listed on Google Maps. Charlotte Pert

Asva the Monkey
The brainchild of Cambodia’s first game development company, Osja Studios, Asva the Monkey has been topping app charts internationally. The puzzle game’s basic idea is to have Asva jump to reach the end of more than 90 levels. The crux? Each level gets more complicated. But the game gives you a few lifelines to solve the puzzles. With HD graphics and a seamless interface, it’s no surprise that Asva the Monkey, which costs $0.99, has become the top game in at least three countries in the world, according to the Apple app store.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM to vet NY holiday dates

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance submitted a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen asking him to formally set a five-day national holiday from August 17-21 to make up for the Khmer New Year holiday in April that was postponed. Finance minister Aun Pornmoniroth sent

  • Cambodia rejects UN rights claim

    Cambodia's Permanent Mission to the UN Office in Geneva on Friday hit back at David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression after he raised concerns over the repression of free speech and

  • Snaring may spawn diseases

    The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has warned that snaring of animals has become a crisis that poses a serious risk to wildlife in Southeast Asia and could spawn the transmission of zoonotic diseases to humans. Its July 9 report entitled Silence of the Snares: Southeast Asia’

  • Ex-party leader, gov’t critic named as secretary of state

    A former political party leader known for being critical of the government has been appointed secretary of state at the Ministry of Rural Development, a royal decree dated July 9 said. Sourn Serey Ratha, the former president of the Khmer Power Party (KPP), told The Post

  • Residence cards set for over 80,000 immigrants

    The Ministry of Interior plans to grant residence cards to more than 80,000 immigrants to better keep track of them. The ministry announced the plan on July 10, following the results of an immigration census. “An inter-ministerial committee and many operational working groups have been set up

  • Kingdom produces PPE gear

    Medical supplies from Cambodia have been donated to member countries of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to assist in the fight against Covid-19, said an ADB report published on July 9. The report stated that the supplies were donated as a response to global efforts to

  • Kingdom, US vow stronger ties

    At an academic forum on Saturday to celebrate 70 years of Cambodia-US diplomatic ties, Cambodian researchers and officials expressed hope of encouraging US investments and for that country to deepen and improve its bilateral relations. Held at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, it reviewed the past 70

  • Fifteen Cambodians from Saudi get Covid-19

    The Ministry of Health on Sunday confirmed 15 more imported cases of Covid. The 15 men ‒ all Cambodian aged 21 to 33 ‒ arrived from Saudi Arabia on Friday via a connecting flight in Malaysia. They were travelling with 79 other passengers, three of them women. The ministry said 80 of the

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea