Cambodia’s first Startup Weekend winner about to launch!

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Last year, in 2011, Cambodia hosted it’s first Startup Weekend and the winner of that event was a team called “SMS Dating”. What has happened to them since? Startup Weekend Cambodia caught up with the founder David Wilkie.

Are you still called SMS Dating?

No, we renamed to Chibi and we are online here: chibitxt.me and here’s my logo:

chibitxt.me logo

Can you descibe when and how you came up with the idea for Chibi?

I’d been thinking about doing a startup with SMS for a while where you could SMS and be matched with people with the same interest e.g. “badminton in phnom penh”. When Startup Weekend Cambodia came about I thought I would pitch a different angle where instead the service would match you with people who you might want to chat with and maybe even date!

How did Startup Weekend Cambodia help out?

Winning Startup Weekend Cambodia really motivated me to keep going with the idea after the event. Another very important reason was all the superb help from the mentors. Additionally, meeting a developer from Instedd who introduced me to their fantastic Open Source software they have available to interface with telecom API’s.

How close are you to actually launching?

In just a few days time! I have a contract with a local provider in Cambodia which I will sign this week!

Have you pivoted since Startup Weekend Cambodia?

Originally SMS only – now we provide voice and chat services too!

Why did you make that pivot?

Basically from customer feedback – most customers prefered voice over SMS

How many people were on your team at Startup Weekend Cambodia?

3 persons

Did they stay with you following the Startup Weekend Cambodia event?

No, because they had other commitments following the event.

So, what’s it been like working on your own?

It’s been ok since I can drive the project as I see best but with also adding customer & friends feedback along the way.

Do you have any advice about raising finance?

Yes, I would say, concentrate on the product first, launch, get customers and get some revenue BEFORE going to meet with investors. The best approach would be to try and bootstrap the business yourself first. It’s not necessarily about generating revenue first, but you must have some users!

Do you have anything you want to add about starting a business in Cambodia?

Advantages are that because of the low cost of living in Cambodia one can spend time to focus on properly developing the product. Additionally, you do need to worry to much (initially) about legal issues, it’s cheap to startup and so its possible to finance yourself.

Everyone at Startup Weekend Cambodia wishes David the best of luck with Chibi! Well done!

For more about Chibi, check out their website: chibitxt.me