Sotha Veng is the CEO of PlasGate – an enterprise communication solution company in Cambodia which focuses on SMS Gateway and IP PBX/Call Center.
Human Asia spoke to Sotha to find out more about this venture.
Please tell us more about PlasGate and the idea behind starting the business.
Sotha: PlasGate was founded in late 2014 as an enterprise communication solution company which focuses on SMS Gateway and IP PBX/Call Center as an add-on. The main idea of creating PlasGate is to legalize the SMS traffic by offering a firewall solution and monetize the illegal traffic by offering a single connection point and direct connection quality with local touch and support to minimize risks and complexity within the Cambodian telecom industry.
How are you different from other similar telecom companies?
Sotha: We have a long-term vision and we call it an eco-platform which allows us to compete with both local and international gateways by providing flexibility to our customers such as low entry barrier, competitive price, and local support with premium quality especially the ability of offering a full SMS service with security unlike the illegal grey routes which are mostly used by international gateways.
How did you go about building a market?
Sotha: We did struggle at the beginning when the grey routes were not filtered by the mobile networks. Actually, the majority of customers who use SMS service are corporate clients who wish to digitalize their services and products so we used a direct approach method.
Thanks to my senior role at Smart Axiata especially in the last one year which I had the opportunity to head the enterprise business that allowed me to keep close contact and build good relationships with key corporate people that subsequently became our clients.
At the end of the day it is down to the personal value and professional relationships. Of course, we also actively involve our name and brand through event sponsorships and social events which is part of the growth.
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Why should businesses use SMS in their marketing and communications?
Sotha: SMS is simply fast, secured and more affordable than other communication channels so it’s a very unique tool that makes businesses and their customers closer than ever especially for those who are moving toward digital space and Internet of Things as I believe a mobile phone will become a human daily digital passport for trade, communication, social interaction and many more.
Besides SMS Gateway, PlasGate also provides services such as Telephony PABX & Call Center and Hotel Solutions. Please explain more about them.
Sotha: IP PBX/Call Center is a new way of communication solution as it can simplify corporates’ complexity, reduce cost, performance management and allows a full control over daily operations and communication of customer service. Unlike the old analog systems, the center helps to bring all communication channels like email, chat, SMS and social interactions into one place.
What are PlasGate’s growth plans in the future?
Sotha: PlasGate is a partnership company and majority owned by a few Cambodian entrepreneurs and a minority stake by a Malaysian investor. Despite our current major focus on SMS gateway and IP PBX/Call Center distribution, we are also exploring building some solutions and services around our core products for enterprise businesses such as integrated platform for SMS, IVR and Internet SMS (Viber, Line, etc.), voice gateway, USSD gateway, cloud IP PBX/Call Center and out-sourcing call center service.
Sotha, please share about yourself and work experience prior to founding this business.
Sotha: I was born in Phnom Penh from a simple family and started my professional career at the age of 18 as a telephone operator in one of the five star hotels in Phnom Penh after finishing high school with fair English language and basic computer skills. I always challenged myself to be one of the best in the workplace through hard work and dedication. Because of that, I was given the opportunity to move up up the ladder from a staff role to a management role in the tourism and telecommunication industries.
What got you so deeply involved in mobile telecommunications?
Sotha: I remember that it was a big jump for me from tourism to telecommunication in 2007 to manage a roaming business which requires both commercial and technical knowledge but I never looked back and really enjoyed working in the new field. The new challenges really motivated me to work even harder to build my knowledge, skill and capacity.
You have had a great career in Smart Axiata. What made you decide to get out of that comfort zone and build your own mobile telecommunications business?
Sotha: I simply like challenges and I felt I haven’t realized my final dream to become a millionaire. The main factor is the fear of failure which prevented me from starting up. However, I gained my confidence after taking an entrepreneur course and started to get involved in social and business events. That’s where I usually get to meet a lot of business owners with inspirational stories they shared about overcoming fear. Now I don’t have that fear anymore, but what I fear now is that I can’t stop doing business.
Where do you see the mobile telecommunications space heading in the next three years?
Sotha: My prediction is that diversity of platforms is the long term key in order for the telecommunication industry to grow, and it simply can not rely on basic voice and a data package anymore so innovative enterprises, home solutions, and investments are necessary for long term growth as IoTs become more and more ubiquitous.
Any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs out there?
Sotha: From my personal experience, time is the most important thing and I believe it can change everyone from bad to good, and also from good to wonderful. It’s hard to judge the right time but if you have a dream and can smell it, then don’t wait. Do it right away with focus, hard-work, dedication, and commitment with optimistic goals. Business planning is important but it is not too important as long as you have a business heart. Because then you will be able to solve all the problems along the way and reach your goal one day.
You can visit PlasGate at http://plasgate.com/
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