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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.

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