Starting a business with the intention of earning heaps of money is good. But what is better is, the intention of changing lives of people surrounding us along with earning money. Codingate, founded by Sopheakmonkol and Rithy Thul, a Cambodia based tech venture company. Together they organized a dedicated and dynamic group of young student team players to work at the heart of Codingate with specialities in programming, design and marketing.
Sok Sopheakmonkol is a new generation Cambodian entrepreneur with a passion for social enterprise and creating educational opportunities for progressive Cambodian youth. He is a 2012 graduate from the University of Hradec Králové in the Czech Republic where he majored in Information Management. Upon completing his Bachelor’s of Science degree, he returned to Cambodia to pursue his career while at the same time providing motivation and direction for other students who are determined to learn and improve their country.
Rithy Thul is a serial entrepreneur and start-up business promoter from Cambodia. He is co-founder of SmallWorld Cambodia, a collaborative business networking center for startup entrepreneurs, and Toursanak, an International adventure tourism company. In May 2013, Rithy and Sopheakmonkol Sok co-founded Codingate, a Cambodia based tech venture company.
We speak to Spoheakmonkol to understand more about Codingate and the innovative Laptop Exchange Program conducted by him.
Tell us the motivation and vision behind starting Codingate.
We (Rithy & Monkol) are always looking for some sort of venture to work together. The real motivation is that we believe in starting a sustainable venture that will not only create ourselves a job, but others as well.
Our vision is leverage information technology through collective genius. What it means here is that the existent of technology does not really ensure that people will have better lives. It has to be in the hand of a collective who want to make use of technology to improve and change the living standard of unfortunate human fellows.
What kind of services do you offer? When did you start, how many projects have been completed so far and how many employees does Codingate have?
We provide mainly three types of services; web design, business application and graphic design. We started in June 2013 as part-time. October 2013, we take it full-time with 13 employees. And have been completed 7 projects and about 8 more in November and December.
Tell us about your innovative Skills-Exchange-Laptop campaign.
When we started, we worked with students from a training school called PNC. The students study there for two year, but don’t have their own computer. They were studying web programming. Without a computer, they cannot learn much.
At the time, we of course want to start a venture, but without the necessary tools like computer, they cannot do the work. We didn’t know whether it was going to work. We started a campaign called Skills-Exchange-Laptop. The first thing we know was that people need websites, we can build website for them without charging money, if they are willing to buy us some laptops depend on the work they want to be done. First week, we have got one project that allow us to exchange four laptop computers. Now, we know that it works. So we had to raise 11 laptops, and we just achieve our goal around mid-October.
We understood few things by doing this campaign. First one was bring necessary tools for those who needs. Second is that we created some jobs for them. And third, build a product and provide services that really in good quality, so it does not spoil ourselves and our staffs.
What are the future offerings you plan to add on Codingate?
So our plan right now is two stages; the survival stage and growth stage.
We are offering three type of services mentioned above in question number 2. With our commitment to build quality result, so we could develop our skills to compete in global market. This is our survival stage.
Once our team are strong enough, then we could take on another challenge which we call Codingate Tech Venture. We are going to build needed technology will be use by our people to improve their lives and work productivity. We don’t know what yet. This is our growth stage.
As an Internet Entrepreneur in Cambodia – tell us how has the experience been. What kind of challenges you had to face to come up with Codingate and the lessons learnt so far!
We feel like being entrepreneurs is not much different, no matter ones is in tech or in professional business such as accounting, the biggest challenge is the real skills. Skills is really make it possible. If ones really can do or make something, they can sale it or find saleman to help sale their things.
In our case, we are just have more doors of opportunities out there, because we can serve our clients from distances. Though, we have to have skills to deliver what we promise our clients. Codingate team have been great in doing this. We hope to make it better in the time to come.
Where is the most client base coming in from? Has it been easy to convince local businesses to go for website creation, content and SEO? Would like to know your experience in dealing with local & international clients.
Our first clients were from Europe, then US. Now most of our clients are local. The trend of having a website for business is really coming up in Cambodia. We are currently work so much with service and media industry. Our experience with international clients is a little challenging because of the distant and time different, difficult to community. But, we also take some advantage of that too. We can work day time, while our clients are sleeping then share with them what we are done, when they are awake. Local clients are easier because we are closer and speak the same language.
For anyone who wishes to start a company in Cambodia – what suggestion would you like to give them?
We would say first, find an industry that ones know best, skills enough, or have a good team who can produce products or services that cold be sold. Second, find a community that encourage them. Many time, when ones want to start a business, there are more people would say NO to the idea than yes. And this is really important, as far as I experienced myself.
TTP’s take on Codingate
Codingate is an example of innovation. In the heart of Cambodia, this startup has successfully managed to get laptops for their staff from their projects and has built a strong team in a couple of months. Getting projects locally means a lot of landscape to cover for this young startup, and we wish Codingate team all the best.