1. What is the objective of this program?
The SmartStart Young Innovator Program is aimed at enabling and empowering young Cambodian
to develop their innovative tech and digital ideas with Smart. The goal is to help turn the best concepts into
actual tech enterprises.
2. What are the benefits of joining this program?
SmartStart offers a unique learning platform along with mentorship and financial support. Through
this program, you will get:
Connected: You will be exposed to various elements of Cambodia’s digital startup ecosystem,
such as experienced mentors, inspirational speakers, co-working spaces, investors and technical support.
Skills: The program consists of business modules taught by experts in their field who have
trained and mentored successful startups in Cambodia. The Technopreneurship Challenge will take successful
teams to a province outside Phnom Penh. (This is subject to change upon consideration of the organizing
committee in light of the Covid-19 pandemic)
Funding: Five winning teams will be granted a 3-month paid internship with the leading
digital and tech startups in Cambodia. The winning team of the Grand Final Pitch will receive 10,000 USD as
well as an array of resources, mentorships and collaborative opportunities.
3. Do I have to bear any costs to participate in this program?
Smart will cover all program-related expenses, including meals, refreshments and program
materials. Transportation and accommodation will also be provided for the Technopreneurship Challenge during
the Enable Phase.
4. What is the selection process like?
A total of 120 students will be selected from a pool of applicants to participate in a one-day event called
Hatch, during which they will pitch their ideas and form their respective teams based on interests and
Teams will be invited to a two-day Digithon, which will involve prototyping and performing a demonstration.
After this event, up to 15 ideas/teams will proceed to the next phase for further development.
This phase will see a five-day off-site Technopreneurship Challenge take place. It will be shaped around
the fundamentals of ideating and growing a digital startup; recognizing, evaluating and exploiting
opportunities; understanding the importance of rapid prototyping; market validation; and experiencing all
aspects of business creation. During this phase, there will be high-level digital training and exposure to
the basics of back-end and front-end software tools.
Participants will hear from guest speakers – local and international – and network with mentors and fellow
entrepreneurs, with a focus on “learning by doing”. The phase will conclude with a public pitching event in
Phnom Penh after the five-day Bootcamp. At the event, five teams with the most outstanding and promising
digital ideas will be granted three-month internships with the leading digital and tech startups in Cambodia
to further develop their business ideas.
In this phase, teams will develop and realize their ideas in a three-month fully paid internship as well as
receive tailored support in partnership with Impact Hub Phnom Penh. They will turn their startup ideas into
actual businesses/products through an ecosystem of resources, mentorships, inspiration and collaboration
with business and tech consultants.
Besides having regular check-ins to monitor progress and troubleshoot challenges, the teams will take part
in demo days and meet with experts and mentors from various companies to receive valuable insights.
Teams will enjoy full membership at Impact Hub Phnom Penh, allowing them full-time use of facilities as well
as free access to regular events, workshops and business clinics.
5. What are the requirements for participation if I am selected?
If you are selected and continually progress, you will be required to fully participate in all
events of this program, which is divided into three phases and includes the Hatch, Digithon ,
Technopreneurship Bootcamp and respective pitching events, as outlined above.
1. When is the application deadline?
2nd May, 2021.
2. Who can apply?
This program is open to all university students (with those in the third or fourth year of their studies
especially encouraged to apply) with:
- A keen interest in innovation, entrepreneurship, startups and digital technologies.
- Any digital business idea in the following verticals: digital education, digital commerce and payments,
digital entertainment and content, and other disruptive industry models (in the areas of healthcare,
agriculture or transportation).
- Digital or entrepreneurial skills that may contribute towards the development of one’s ideas. For
example, coding, graphic/web design, marketing, writing or sales.
- Good English proficiency.
- A strong drive and determination to make their dreams come true.
- A commitment to fully participate in all sessions of the program.
3. How do I apply to this program?
We only accept online applications. Click
if you’d like to get started on your
application. The deadline
for applications is 2nd
4. What supporting materials are required for the application?
You are required to submit a video introduction about yourself (please refer to the application
form for details regarding video content). You must upload your video to YouTube and provide the link
accordingly in the application form.
5. When and how will I be notified of my admission status?
You will be informed of your application’s status by the organizers via email. Successful
applicants will be asked to confirm their participation upon receiving the notification. Failure to do so will
imply that the applicant has rejected the opportunity to join the program, and the position will be offered to
6. Can I apply as an individual or do I need to have a team?
You can apply to SmartStart as an individual, or as part of a team.If you apply as an individual,
you can apply with or without an idea. If you apply as a team, you must apply with an idea. If you apply as a
team, we will either accept your idea and your whole team, or we may reject your idea but consider each
7. Can I apply without an idea?
You can apply to SmartStart without an idea only if you are applying as an individual.
8. How do I find a good idea?
A great idea is something that solves a problem that someone is facing. You can think about a
problem that you, your family members or friends used to face. A good business idea could also be an
enterprise that exists online or in another country that you think should exist here. Another suggestion is to
think about what you’re passionate about and how you can turn that passion into a business.
9. I’m stuck with my application -- help!
Here are some of our suggestions:
- Make sure your problem is real, specific enough and has a real market with potential customers. Make
sure you have spoken to people who experience the problem or experts who are working in that area for
- You should think outside of the box and come up with solutions that are innovative and creative. We
recommend you to do some research on what has been done, and how you can make those solutions better.
- Make sure to have some data, facts and figures on how big the problem is.
- Lastly, make sure the problem is something you and your team are passionate about -- but also make sure
your team has the right skills and experience to pull it off.
10. How do I know my team is the right fit for the program?
See this checklist. Your team has:
- People with diverse and complementary skills and backgrounds (at least one person with creative, one
with business and one with tech skills).
- At least more than half of the team is very passionate about the topic.
- You have the time to commit to this project and you are committed.
- You have the same vision.
- At least one of the team members has some industry insights.
11. How will the program be executed with the COVID-19 outbreak?
For the time being, the main means of communication will be through Zoom. However, the organizers
will closely monitor the situation of the outbreak in Cambodia and will shift arrangements accordingly,
following standard operating procedures issued by the Ministry of Health.
What are the important dates?
Hatch: May 22nd, 2021
Digithon: May 29th - 30th, 2021
Technopreneurship Challenge: June 15th - 20th, 2021
Final Pitch: July 3rd, 2021
Internship: August - October, 2021
Grand Final Pitch: November 13th, 2021
Organizers reserve the rights to change the dates.