12 startups from Cambodia, the Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam have qualified to pitch their business plans to investors at the Mekong Tourism Forum, 6 June in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR. Industry experts selected the 12 startups from more than 250 applications spanning travel technology solutions, traditional tourism products, hospitality projects and social enterprises.
All 12 attended a three-day training and evaluation program, 5-7 May in Siem Reap, Cambodia, where experts from Amadeus Next, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Buffalo Tours (TMG), Clickable Vietnam, Entrepid Advisors, Gobi Ventures, the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO), and Triip.me mentored the startups.
Mekong Innovative Startup Tourism (MIST) accelerator program co-creator Jens Thraenhart, executive director of MTCO, explained that it is critical in today's competitive and fast changing travel and tourism landscape to integrate innovation and startups into tourism development planning. MTCO is currently the only regional tourism organization that incorporates startups into its tourism strategy development process.
Startups qualifying for the Mekong Tourism Forum Investor Showcase include:
Artisan Origins by TAEC – Lao PDR: Artisan Origins offers authentic, high quality crafts from rural ethnic communities in Lao PDR, a café and information center about visiting handicraft communities, and displays about the ethnic groups, cultural context and techniques demonstrated through the crafts.
Bayo – Vietnam: Bayo’s mission is to help Vietnamese make the best travel decisions by helping them find the right travel information, right suppliers, right products and prices, and to transact with local suppliers easily.
BookMeBus – Cambodia: BookMeBus connects travelers and bus operators in real time, helping bus companies fill their seats and users find the most cost-effective ways to easily get around the region.
CamboTicket – Cambodia: CamboTicket aggregates bus, ferry and private taxi bookings around Cambodia and Laos into one platform, creating an even playing field for over 40 operators.
I Love Asia – Vietnam: I Love Asia offers women-led motorbike tours of Hoi An and Hue while supporting projects for disadvantaged communities in the cities where they operate.
Dichung – Vietnam: Dichung uses technology to promote low-impact rideshare transportation options, giving drivers the chance to trade free seats in their vehicles, and working with taxi companies to develop vanpools.
Chameleon City – Vietnam: Chameleon City is an on-demand chat-based service providing travel and lifestyle answers from local experts, 24/7.
ezStay – Myanmar: ezStay offers hotel reviews and instant booking confirmation, including for hotels and guesthouses without an online presence, broadening and simplifying accommodation bookings for travelers in Myanmar.
GoP – Myanmar: GoP is an online tour platform amassing providers and options into one place, offering high-quality service, reliable bookings and instant confirmation.
GuideInsider – Cambodia: GuideInsider offers comprehensive in-country guidance on local sights and activities, including history, opening times, available tour guides, possible tour packages and user reviews.
Ma Te Sai – Lao PDR: Ma Te Sai preserves cultural heritages while developing skills and offering employment options for youth in Nambak through tourism to unique TaiLue villages via a multipurpose information center and roadside café.
Morning Rooms – Vietnam: Morning Rooms is Vietnam’s largest budget hotel network, helping economical tourists find the right quality rooms for the price they need.
Qualifying MIST startups will present their business plans to media, investors and an expert judging panel. Four will be awarded innovation grants of $7,000-$10,000 USD