5 Cambodian startups want to make it easier to commute and travel in Cambodia

Independent Monument, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Last week Phnom Penh has been rated as one of the world’s least livable cities by London-based Economist Intelligence Unit this week. Its annual Global Livability Ranking placed Phnom Penh 127th out of 140 capital cities and commercial hubs.

However, 5 Cambodian startups are optimistic enough to combine their technology and entrepreneurial skills to make the Cambodia’s largest capital city smarter.

What makes Phnom Penh a smart city? And what makes you a smart commuter and traveler?

While Phnom Penh doesn’t have to be Asia’s Silicon Valley, local entrepreneurs can look for inspiration from there, where startups want to change the world, the way we travel and commute to work.

The technology startup community in the Cambodian capital city has been growing remarkably in the past five years. One thing to note is the growing number of co-working spaces. In Phnom Penh alone, there are almost ten venues dedicated to those who start to execute their ideas. It’s as if the future of shared space is here to stay.

In this blog post, you’ll learn about 5 technology-driven startups offering simple solutions to Phnom Penhers and travelers in Cambodia. From optimizing how you commute to work to an easy way to hop on a bus to your destination around Cambodia to getting your ordered grocery at your door step.

We tried to pick startups that:

  • help people to travel and commute easier
  • have technology-driven solutions or at least tech-enabled
  • have similar hiring needs to a typical silicon valley startup, small and agile
  • are focused on fulfilling basic needs of people who are typically underserved

BookMeBus.com

Phnom Penh, Cambodia
What they do: As in its name, this is a local startup that helps travelers to book bus tickets easily and quickly. As BookMeBus has a growing list of bus operators on its online service, it’s so convenient to check bus schedules, compare prices, and order the ticket over the Internet or through your smartphone. Think of this as Cambodia’s Uber for bus.
Why you should know about them: Before founding this BookMeBus, Chea Langda was frustrated by how hard it’s get a bus ticket. Getting to the agent for the ticket in person. Not so much information about the bus of choice, departure schedules to plan the trip well. This startup has attracted attention from those in bigger cities like Bangkok and Yangon. In a country like Vietnam, people still have to make phone or use SMS to book the ticket. No smart phone app yet.

Exnet Taxi

Phnom Penh, Cambodia
This is an ultra Uber concept of “a simple idea—tap a button, get a ride.” EXNET doesn’t have its own vehicles or hire full-time drivers. Telling the Phnom Penh Post recently, the founder said “We wanted to provide passengers with a more convenient way to order a taxi, without the need to call and have difficulties explaining their location to drivers on the phone.” Check out its Android app here.

Stops Near Me

Phnom Penh, Cambodia
City bus is relatively new to Phnom Penh residents. To get to the bus stop is a challenge, too, as most people are more used to driving their own motorcycles. When Malypoeur Plong, the app founder, had a tough time to find the closest bus stop and hop on the bus, she coded the app, Stop Near Me (in both Khmer and English).

Chatomuk Traffic

Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Not all mobile apps are all equal. When Chatomuk Traffic was launched in 2014, the media and the public were hopeful it must help ease the pain of of driving through the Phnom Penh traffic. Va Kora, founder of Chaktomuk Traffic, returned from Japan in 2013 to start the commuter app. His motivation is clear: “to do something very useful for the people.”

Pengpos

This is not an online store that sells you tomato. Based on your regular need, Pengpos want to solve your daily issue, getting grocery delivered to your doorstep. The startup’s mission is to save people’s time and give them convenience. You browse its website, pengpos.com, for vegetables, meats, and grocery you need to cook. You make an order. Pengpos delivers them to you. Just like BookMeBus that collaborates with bus operators, Pengpos works closely with food vendors and product suppliers.

What these startups have in common is: the adoption rate among local users remains low. The major users who adopt the tech-driven solutions are non-Cambodian. Is it the English language issue or payment method. Most Cambodians don’t have access to Visa or Master card, not to mention Paypal or standard payment option. However, here’s a long list of mobile money operators available to many fragments of users across Cambodia: Wing, E-money, True Money and Smart Luy; bank-managed mobile financial services such as ACLEDA, Prasac, AMK, and more. When you take a look at BookMeBus, the online bus ticket service thrives to provide as many payment methods to its users as possible.

This updated blog post was first appeared in CamboPedia.com on August 17, 2016.

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