Written by Kosoma Kim
“When we talk about food, nutrition and safety is the most important part that everyone in the food industry from producers and consumers has to think about.” – Vourchnea
Everything begins with the idea and it is somehow easy to come up with the idea, right? What about making the idea happen regardless of the challenges around?
Almost 2 years ago, I met one young girl who was a food-engineering student with an idea to create high nutritional instant foods in Cambodia; so she started her first prototype – Instant Rice Porridge. Last week I found out that now she is in France taking her prototype into international level while hoping to bring the final product back to the kingdom.
Let’s meet Vourchnea Ny, Founder of Neaty Instant Porridge, to find out more about her startup journey, dream, and challenges in providing healthy instant food in Cambodia.
Q1: What is Neaty?
Vourchnea: Neaty is a food startup that aims to provide healthy and convenient foods for Cambodian. Our first product is Instant Rice Porridge which has a flavor adapting to Cambodia. Neaty vision is to increase the healthy food productions in Cambodia, reduce waste, and support local farmers.
Ny Vourchnea, a co-founder of Neaty, pitches her business idea in a 3 min video.
Q2: How you come up with the idea of Neaty?
Vourchnea: Instant noodle is very convenient and popular among Cambodian. I am one of them who likes it a lot. While Instant cup noodle is popular; I think why we don’t make instant cup porridge as well.
Cambodian porridge tastes amazing, but only available in the morning or some places at nights. I asked myself “how about making it be the first Cambodian taste instant rice porridge? how about making it available anytime people want to eat? And how about making it affordable, high in nutrition and healthy instant porridge?
Neaty Instant Rice Porridge (Prototype)
Q3: How you kickstart Neaty?
Vourchnea: With that idea, I have applied to Business Model Competition without even know the technical ways to make the instant porridge and zero knowledge in entrepreneurship. But I applied anyway to many competition programs until 2017 when I first started work on the prototype.
In Business Model Competition where I first learned about entrepreneurship, my team is a second winner. Then I have joined Impact Hub Phnom Penh in Cellcard Labs program and won the second place again and USD3000 to continue working on the prototype. Finally, in 2018 Neaty has won the first place as Best Innovative Project by Journées de la recherche France Cambodge. I have reached out to a lot of networks, mentorship, and many opportunities through those competition programs and especially Impact Hub Phnom Penh. With all of that, I am so gladful that I am finally now in French taking my prototype into international level.
Vourchnea and her team winning the second place in Cellcard Labs
Neaty winning the first place as Best Innovative Project by Journées de la recherche France Cambodge
Q4: Can you tell us a bit more how you get selected to France? What do you expect from this trip?
Vourchnea: I can make it now to France working on my prototype because of FORICA. forica.org is a French endowment fund supplied with donations from individuals or companies. This crowdfunding is specifically for Cambodian students entrepreneurs to access higher research and laboratory in France. It is a 6 months fully funded program taking place in Albi, France and Phnom Penh.
In Abli, I have been linked with a laboratory specialized in powder generation and processing, the Centre RAPSODEE of IMT Mines Albi. During my 3 months internship with the company, I will focus on the hydration process, taste, nutritional properties, and design manufacturing process at the scale of a Cambodian SME.
In short, one of the most important outcomes is to bring a high-quality Neaty Instant Rice Porridge as a final product back to Cambodia.
Didier Lecomte – Advisor to the Director of Institute of Technology of Cambodia and Vourchnea
“I am here, my dream city” – Vourchnea Ny enjoying Christmas in Paris
Q5: What are your challenges in kickstart Neaty in Cambodia?
Vourchnea: Though I have had a lot of support on the business side, the product development itself is still a big challenge due to the limitation of laboratory equipment in Cambodia for SME.
But I am thankful for the connections I have made so far from all the competitions I have joined which every day makes the impossible possible.
Vourchnea in Women’s Forum Singapore 2018
Q6: What is your advice for young Cambodians, in general, to kickstart a social startup?
Vourchnea: Well, I am afraid I don’t have much to say. But base on my experience I would suggest learning how to wait while busy getting ready for the opportunity. Apply to any related competitions you see and don’t be afraid of failure! Remember that in any competitions, whether you win or not; it will always take you to the next level. Again, I am glad to be here now in France to work on the idea which I once thought it might be just an idea forever. But after all the competitions I have joined; it keeps taking me further and further with it. And now it is getting real. 😀
Support FORICA and Vourchnea here