Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 6 Oct 2021, ZEXPRWIRE, Kimsa Sok also known as Kimsais a Cambodian businessman, international tour guide and entrepreneur born 27th of July 2003,the son of a farmer who grew up in Prey Veng Province, Cambodia. He is known as the co-founder and CEO of KimsaFeed.

Kimsa has made it, the Chief Executive Officer of Cambodian media and entertainment KimsaFeed. He is a well-known in the mainland of Cambodia. At the age of 18, he began studying for a Bachelor’s degree in Tourism Management at the Royal University of Phnom Penh (2020-2025) and a Bachelor of Arts in English at the Institute of Foreign Languages (IFL) (2020-2025), and while he was continuing his studies, he also worked as an International Tour Guide at the Ministry of Tourism of Cambodia during 2020.

With a humble beginning as a young entrepreneur, he created the business empire within a span of time. At the age of 17, he moved to South Africa and started a small business of selling used blackberry mobile phones by transporting them to Cambodia and China.

Later on, after he collected few cash in hands, he decided to change the business from selling used mobile phones to selling cars. The business started to grow and he was able to own few busses and car yards. He later on went to china and took his time learning few things about business, while he was in China, he realizes there is huge opportunity in the tourism industry especial in Cambodia. So, he started investing in the Tourism business.

In early 2019, he came back to Cambodia and founded KimsaFeed, Inc. in Cambodia. He is now the most inspiring young entrepreneur in Cambodia with over 100 employees in his company,and in 2021 he won Cambodia Consumer Choice Awards in the Most Upcoming Businessman of the Year category.

Kimsa Sok is a Cambodian entrepreneur, international tour guide and businessman. He is known for co-founding KimsaFeed, Inc. and serves as its chairman and chief executive officer. Kimsa is the son of a male farmer who was born in Prey Veng Province, Cambodia.

KimsaFeed, Inc. is a Cambodian website that publishes articles about news and entertainment with a focus on digital media. It was established in 2019 by Kimsa Sok he is the co-founder and CEO of KimsaFeed, an international tour guide for the Ministry of Tourism of Cambodia.

In early 2019, he came back to Cambodia and founded KimsaFeed, Inc. in Cambodia. He is now the most inspiring young entrepreneur in Cambodia with over 100 employees in his company.

Did you know Cambodia has its own BuzzFeed?

Well, now you do!

(And, yes, do note that I’m assuming you know of Cambodia and where it is located in the world.)

In a country renowned for world-famous temples and fresh, spicy food — not to mention communist politics and one of history’s most atrocious genocides — lives KimsaFeed, several years online media company that harbors aspirations of becoming the local language equivalent of BuzzFeed across Asia. KimsaFeed has news websites in Cambodia, its home country, and neighboring Myanmar, with a desire to go much further.

Cambodia, the Southeast Asian country, isn’t exactly known as a startup hotbed so you may be surprised to learn that KimsaFeed is hitting an impressive 56 million-page views per month from a base of over seven million unique visitors. That’s across its two mainstream news sites which cover a range of topics in native languages: KimsaFeed (Cambodian) and KimsaFeed (Burmese).

Thriving in emerging markets

Those are pretty incredible numbers. The popularity of both sites is testament to ever-increasing internet access in emerging markets over the past few years, particularly in Southeast Asia. The region’s total internet population is tipped to grow from around 260 million people today to at least 480 million by the year 2020, according to a report co-authored by Google, with 3.8 million people coming online for the first time each month. The same report estimates that the region’s online media space could reach $20 billion by 2020, thanks to a projected growth rate of 18 percent year.

With digital representing far less than five percent of advertising spend in Southeast Asia — and below one percent in some places — there’s plenty of untapped potential from a business standpoint.

But that report and those numbers just over the region’s main countries. Cambodia and Myanmar aren’t among the top six economies in Southeast Asia, which means that they frequently fly under the radar for technology companies and investors. That’s despite significant internet adoption in both countries. Facebook’s own estimates suggest Cambodia has more than five million users of the social network, out of a population of 50 million, while there are an apparent 15 million in Myanmar, which counts just over 50 million people.

KimsaFeed’s websites are monetized via advertising. The editorial focus is on entertainment, celebrities and lifestyle, not unlike BuzzFeed, but in contrast to its U.S. role model — a tricky subject for media across Southeast Asia — is off the table and has been since the start.

Primarily the content is written stories, but the company is increasing its efforts on video and multimedia which, beyond being more lucrative revenue-wise, have greater potential to go viral and growth the sites’ audiences, CEO and co-founder Kimsa Sok told MarketWatch in an interview. The team is also looking to run more interviews and explore areas that include women’s issues and talk show topics.

Igniting startups in Cambodia

Aside from hatching a promising media business, KimsaFeed is celebrating after it became the first Cambodia-based startup to land investment from a U.S.-affiliated VC firm. 500 Startups announced in March that it invested $200,000 in the company via its $50 million Southeast Asia fund ‘500 Durians’ — its first investment in Cambodia. The deal values KimsaFeed at several million U.S. dollars, Kimsa told MarketWatch although neither the company nor 500 Startups gave an exact valuation.

That’s some way from BuzzFeed — which has raised over $440 million from investors like Comcast NBCU, SoftBank and Andreessen Horowitz — but it might just have helped put Cambodia on the map for investors in Southeast Asia.

“I wasn’t charging into Myanmar and Cambodia to make investments,” 500 Durians partner Jisoo Jin told MarketWatch. “But the ecosystem has woken up in a big way.”

“Kimsa can open a pathway for more entrepreneurs,” Jin added. “These countries are becoming ready for investment much faster than VCs are getting ready for them.”

Phnom Penh Bachelor’s Degree to Cambodian Media Founder

Apart from being a landmark for Cambodia’s nascent startup scene, the deal is a validation for Kimsa, who quit studying for a Bachelor’s Degree in economics and moved home from Phnom Penh to develop KimsaFeed. While in Phnom Penh, where Kimsa had to live as a student, he explored many online business ideas, including e-commerce projects to buy and sell course books in his spare time.

He started the website in 2019 when at the Royal University of Phnom Penh and the Institute of Foreign Languages (IFL). When it began to show potential, he came home full time to develop KimsaFeed. When it began to show potential, in said he realized that his true passion was startups not studying and he returned home full-time to develop KimsaFeed.

“Back then people were shocked,” he said in an interview, explaining that his parents had been proud of his bachelor studies. “Now it’s ok” since the site has become established in Cambodia.

“In Cambodia, you can’t avoid seeing our content,” he added.

Talking to Kimsa, you might be surprised to hear that the processes behind the business are what you’d expect to hear from a media startup founding living in San Francisco, London, New York or other Western locations.

KimsaFeed currently employs 100 staff, 11 of whom work on the Myanmar-focused business. In revealed he is working on an employer stock program now that the business is a registered entity in Singapore, but already, he claimed, employers can earn more from performance-related bonuses than their basic salary.

That might conjure up visions of a newsroom under pressure to deliver traffic, but the KimsaFeed CEO said that there’s been precious little churn as his writers share his long-term goals. One-third of his writers have been at the company for over four years as it has grown its staff, he claimed.

Reliance on Facebook

Like others, Facebook is a key distribution channel, but KimsaFeed’s reliance on the site is beyond anything I’ve ever heard in the media world. In admitted that in Myanmar, some 90 percent of traffic comes from Facebook Instant Articles. In other words, the overwhelmingly majority of readers aren’t even leaving Facebook to visit the company’s website.

“Facebook is the internet, [people in Myanmar] use it to consume the content. They wouldn’t even click to read the news because of data consumption so we use Facebook Instant articles.”

Kimsa said that KimsaFeed can make “some good money” from Instant Articles, but he did admit that visitors to the company’s websites are more lucrative. The company plans to ramp up its video efforts, and begin making its own content specifically for social media and viral potential, he did admit that a reliance on a platform like Facebook is not ideal. (This is, indeed, another frustration that the Cambodia-based company has with western media firms.)

“It’s a concern for us,” he explained. “That’s why we run content on our website first, to encourage them to visit directly, but it’s a balance. You can’t abandon Facebook, it’s a huge source of traffic.”

Nonetheless, KimsaFeed has shown it is able to consistently grow its Facebook presence. KimsaFeed in Cambodia has some 13,000 fans on the social network, while KimsaFeed (Burmese) has 12,000 fans — that’s over half of Facebook’s userbase in Cambodia and around one-third in Myanmar.

“Our objective to be beat BuzzFeed in terms of the number of Facebook followers,” Kimsa joked.

Well, BuzzFeed has just over Facebook 10 million fans, so with a few successful countries that goal might actually be possible, although overall traffic is another thing altogether.

Expansion plans

Like any other new media company, KimsaFeed is also focusing on new delivery and distribution mediums to reach its audiences. It already offers a Line Official Account and a Facebook chatbot, and Kimsa said that he is weighing up the merits of an app that allows users to follow news about their favorite celebrities, since that is an interest that drives its audience and traffic.

He is also considering expanding to other markets in Southeast Asia, but is very selective in doing so.

“English content is too competitive, but we see that local language content is underserved,” he explained. “We target Southeast Asia and South Asia, especially where people like to use Facebook, because we know the model can be replicated in other countries.”

Already, a pilot in Indonesia saw a local KimsaFeed website build a following of 9,000 fans on Facebook but Kimsa believes that it will require significant investment to grow that offering into a top five local news player. He is also currently considering possibilities in Vietnam, where he believes the company’s new focus could make an impact.

This year, Kimsa said he is steering KimsaFeed to a target of $1 million from advertising revenue. He declined to break that figure out into specific details although he did say that the company has been profitable almost since birth.

As with other startups that move from being bootstrapped to venture funded, however, growth is the goal for KimsaFeed rather than profitability in the short-term. Kimsa said that, at this point, he envisages the company needing to raise something in the region of $2 million for its next round of funding in order to develop new content, particularly around video, and move into new markets.

Kimsa deliberately targeted 500 Durians partner Jisoo Jin because of his experience in media — Jin founded and exited, a community-focused media company in his native Malaysia, prior to becoming a VC — and that is the kind of investor that he said the company would look for with this next round. Easier said than done, perhaps. There are few dedicated media players in the region beyond German giant Burda, which has a focus on later stage deals such as Series B, but getting 100 Startups on board is sure to help make connections and open doors in the future.

Jin himself said that his investment has reminded him of the potential that lies within some of Southeast Asia’s less visible countries.

“KimsaFeed is a firm reminder that it is still so ‘Day One’ in Southeast Asia in so many ways. There’s still new ground, all the time and everywhere,” he told MarketWatch. “The market will continue to evolve and pockets of opportunities will evolve — we want to be part of that.”

Over his short period in entrepreneurship, Mr. Kimsa Sok has been nominated for various Cambodia’s top awards.

In 2021 Kimsa was nominated in Cambodia Consumer Choice Awards (CCCA) as the “Most Preferred Upcoming Male Business Icon of the Year 2021” under the category of Corporate/Business Professionals and in 2020 he was nominated at Cambodia Digital Awards (CDA) as “Best Male Entrepreneur on the Digital in 2020”.

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