Amid a global panorama ruled by foreign social networks, an audacious Cambodian group spearheaded by Lee Ngeap, an accountant turned digital entrepreneur, aims to etch a digital mark with Snapkyu. This locally-built social media platform emerges from a shared ambition to create a Cambodian solution for Cambodian users.

Seeing the fast-paced digital surge in Cambodia, Ngeap is committed to offering a platform that addresses the unique needs and hurdles confronting local users.

“I’ve observed, based on my learning from Khmer Enterprise and Angkor 500, that up to $88 million leaves Cambodia due to online expenditure,” shared Ngeap.

The primary struggles Cambodian users encounter on international platforms often involve seeking assistance for account issues, alongside a call for designated business pages and streamlined verification. Ngeap’s vision is to make a difference.

“Our aim is to build a platform where Cambodian users feel supported and empowered, a space for business growth and connectivity without total reliance on foreign platforms,” he explained.

Snapkyu, officially acknowledged by the Ministry of Commerce, is steeped in purpose: the term “snap” as in capturing a snapshot, while “kyu” takes inspiration from the queue, signifying the action of capturing and sharing a moment.

This venture commenced six years ago, as a committed friend circle invested their spare time into the project.

“Over the years, we faced challenges, and even had to recode due to high usage, causing inconvenience to our users,” Ngeap revealed.

He told The Post: “As inexperienced Cambodians, we tackled these obstacles one by one as they surfaced”.

The journey of constructing a local social media platform is not devoid of challenges. The team encountered challenges from complex coding, and the occasional need for code rewriting due to heavy use. However, they’ve remained resilient.

“We persevered as a team, addressing issues one by one, harnessing our Cambodian spirit of resolve and creativity,” he said.

Despite the more gradual growth compared to tech behemoths, Snapkyu has attracted almost 200,000 users, evidencing its appeal among the community.

Ngeap concedes competing with established foreign platforms is tough but remains driven to foster user trust, specifically regarding Snapkyu’s speed.

Working with a Singaporean server company, the team is bent on ensuring an uninterrupted, fast user experience. Despite moments of doubt, Ngeap’s commitment to Snapkyu is fuelled by his desire to enhance Cambodia’s digital landscape.

“Having devoted six years to this, how can I quit now? More marketing funds would certainly make a significant difference, especially as Snapkyu gains recognition,” he said.

Snapkyu distinguishes itself with unique features, such as “voice comment” on the News Feed, offering users a novel way to express themselves. Furthermore, it facilitates voice-to-text conversion in both Khmer and English, addressing the linguistic diversity of Cambodian users. Yet, the journey wasn’t devoid of obstacles like complex coding and time-consuming design processes.

Ngeap recognises the lack of confidence in local social networks primarily due to privacy concerns. However, he underscores that absolute privacy is a myth as all companies access user data.

“From the moment we purchase a phone, our privacy is compromised. And any mobile application, be it from Google or Apple, requires us to accept the terms of their privacy policies before use,” he stated.

Ngeap calms apprehensions by reminding users that Snapkyu has acquired a license from the relevant ministry. They plan to establish an office for public verification of their commitment to privacy.

To ensure security, Snapkyu has a unique login system where users receive a code via their mobile telephone number, providing a heightened layer of verification and protection.

Ever looking forward, Snapkyu has ambitious plans to enhance its offerings, including live streaming support by 2023, and a strong commitment to user safety, with robust measures against abusive content.

“If users post inappropriate content, we take action to remove it and shut it down. Our response time to abusive content can be as short as one day, during which time we disable all sharing except for recording, which is also not feasible on other social media platforms,” Ngeap asserted.

As Snapkyu carves its unique path in Cambodia’s digital landscape, Ngeap remains steadfast.

“We have come a long way, and with more marketing and growing recognition, Snapkyu has the potential to significantly impact our digital community,” he said.

Snapkyu aspires to be the platform Cambodians can call their own, nurturing connections, empowering businesses, and reflecting the dynamic Cambodian digital community. With its distinct features, commitment to privacy, and plans for future growth, Snapkyu is set to become a robust platform, aiding Cambodians to connect, create, and flourish in the digital age.