DoyDoy: The Story of A Startup

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EM Chanrithykol, 21 years old, is a senior year student pursuing an English language Bachelor’s Degree of Art at the Royal University of Phnom Penh. He is also the founder of Doydoy, what he calls “a low cost STEM learning and innovation tool” for children. Doydoy was developed when Chanrithykol attended the Think Global Make Local (TGML) course run by ARC Hub PNH in 2015 and funded by USAID’s Development Innovations. The product was designed to serve kids who didn’t have a lot of money but were interested in building and design, and is made with low-cost plastic straws and 3D printed joints that can be put together to build different structures like houses or boxes. The TGML course provided free, high quality product development training with a focus on design topics ranging from 3D printing, to electronics and robotics.

Entrepreneurs Em Chanrithykol with his STEM-skill learning toy “Doydoy”.

As a young Cambodian entrepreneur, Chanrithykol faced many challenges. “I have no background in business at school nor family, and most of my mentors are foreigners which is hard for them to give advice to fit the local context,” said Chanrithykol. He said his age has held him back, saying, “it is hard to seek partnerships since people don’t trust me as I am young. They think that I don’t take things seriously and I just do what I am doing because of the short term excitement.” Like other startups and small businesses, financing has been a big barrier. “I started with my family and my own pocket money, and it was hard to make money in the early stage and even harder look for funding as most funding opportunities require a lot of supporting documents such as financial projection and budget plan which I have never learned before.”

Eighteen months after he dreamed up this product, Doydoy has a team of three people including specialists in marketing and design, and he is planning to recruit more team members soon. He has sold more than 800 of these toys so far, and wants to expand further and grow his business. Forming a team with a good structure is another big challenge that he had to deal with. “It is hard to form a good team with clear structure to make the startup function well. This is what I found missing from any entrepreneurship programs I have joined. I wish to learn how to form and manage a good team,” he added.

Despite all these challenges, he acknowledges the importance of the support he has received throughout his journey. After the TGML program, he joined the Cellcard Lab program run by Impact Hub, where he won $5,000 USD and a three-day exposure trip to visit Microsoft Malaysia and Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC), the biggest startup accelerator in the region.

Kids are excited to construct their dream buildings with Doydoys, which were donated to the Coconut School, a school built from recycled plastics and waste materials.
[Photo Credit: Em Chanrithykol]
Through this program, “Impact Hub has connected me with mentors and networking events where I have learned to make an investment strategy, business plan, and reports.” ARC Hub PNH also continues to support Chanrithykol by offering him a reduced fee to produce for Doydoy with their 3D printing tools at ARC Hub. This lowers the cost of his product and helps him expand. Most recently, Chanrithykol was selected as a winner of one of the fifteen Cambodian Young Entrepreneur Awards 2017. This award marked a big success for Doydoy as it helped him build more recognition from the local market. “I am happy that five among the nine judges were Cambodian who has experiences working with local brands, and I also got a good opportunity to connect with more people and potential buyers,” said Chanrithykol.

Doydoy is working to partner with schools and companies so he can help more kids use these low cost tools to design their own adventures and learn some of the basics of beginning engineering. Contact Chanrithykol here if you want to know more.  If you are interested in purchasing Doydoy, you can find it at ENGINOV Cambodia at Block 11.

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