EPIC Showcase – a Grand Finale

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EPIC Showcase

Today, our guest blog post is from Laura Smitheman, Programs & Innovation Director with our partners at Impact Hub Phnom Penh. They ran the EPIC one year startup incubator program from 2016-2017, and Laura will highlight some of the key lessons learned and pieces of advice captured from all the EPIC Ventures that recently completed the program. Read her blog post about the September EPIC Showcase event below, originally published on the Impact Hub Phnom Penh website.

After one intense and memorable year of incubation, our five EPIC teams celebrated the grand finale of the program in September. Rat Hunter, E House, Eco Fresh SE, Edemy and UniQFood joined together to share their experiences of starting a business which aims to have a positive impact on society to a crowded room and live to audiences on Facebook.

The entrepreneurs shared updates on the progress of their businesses, gave important insights in various aspects of start-ups and provided other entrepreneurs with valuable advice.

E-House shared how important it is for entrepreneurs to deeply understand the problem they are trying solve and how for their team, the inspiration for their business came from themselves experiencing the challenge of finding decent, safe and affordable housing in Phnom Penh.

Rat Hunter discussed their positive experience of ‘fail early, fail often but always fail forward’ (meaning that start-ups only learn and progress by testing new ideas and if they discover their assumptions don’t work, they can make improvements quickly, allowing them to reach success faster, with less money and more effectively). By spending their time to test their prototype, they have learnt a lot about the issues of rat infestation on crop yields and ensured they have not rushed into production of ineffective technology. Importantly, they remain focused on the needs of their customer which means they are flexible on the method which they can use to impact this problem.

Most start-ups begin with a solution to a problem and a product/service which they want to sell to customers, however they are often unclear about what the business model should be. UniQFood began with a strong solution – providing access to improved food manufacturing knowledge and techniques to family-based and small and medium sized food producers. However, they did not know the best way to do this, and explained that analysis of the market, competitors and the needs of customers helped them to define their current business model.

Eco Fresh SE focused on the importance of ‘team’ for a start-up. They have found that this is a particular challenge for an early stage start-up, when there are so many uncertainties, so much risk, the team sometimes had different ideas about their model and often had other work to focus on. The shared how they have kept the team motivated, have maximized on the skills sets of their team and managed the challenge of communication and decision making.

Finally, Edemy shared their experience of growing their business. They have found that a solid base – from operations, human resource to financial model –  is vital before a business should start growing significantly. They also reflected on the importance of remaining true to your social mission while growing your business and trying to make it financially sustainable.

We at Impact Hub Phnom Penh are incredibly proud of each team for their commitment, dedication and immense energy over the past year and look forward to continuing to support the teams as they impact Cambodia and beyond.

The EPIC Showcase was honored to receive insights from His Excellency Mr. Chek Lim (from the Ministry of Youth Education and Sport), Ms. Veena Reddy (USAID Cambodia’s Deputy Mission Director), Ms. Kate Heuisler (Chief of Party Development Innovations), Mr Ganesh Muren (CEO and co-founder of Saora Industries, which provides affordable, high impact, green technological solutions to marginalized communities) and Ms. Satoko Kono (President of the impact investment fund, Arun LLC).

What is next for the EPIC incubator? We are excited to announce that EPIC is being molded and developed to scale its impact to ASEAN and focus its support on early-stage entrepreneurs pursuing innovative solutions to advance achievement of the the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). EPIC is going regional! Watch this space for more EPIC developments.

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