Phandeeyar is one of the 3 accelerators of Yangon and is specialized in tech. It was launched by David Madden in 2014, right after the opening of the country to the world. We met different employees from Phandeeyar and some of the entrepreneurs incubated in it. Phandeeyar was the first actor in this sector in Myanmar.
- What are the missions of Phandeeyar?
Myanmar has opened to the world at an incredible speed, 6 years ago a sim card costed c. 1000$ and there was one for an entire village, nowaday everyone has a smartphone. This incredibly fast opening highlights all the way the country has to make. For instance, if everyone has a smartphone, 71% of the population is still lacking electricity: so the differences between countryside and cities are still huge. Our mission is to help Myanmar through these digital changes, to do so we invest, help, and support tech startups.
- What are you doing to foster people to become entrepreneurs?
We first organise several community events per year like hackathons on few intensive days with a goal to meet potential entrepreneurs and help them create a business plan and a minimum viable product (MVP) by the end of the challenge. Then we incubate by batches few entrepreneurs who need to be accelerated. But we tend to distance ourselves from this “batch” method and incubate people only when we are certain of their potential. We can also fund them up to 30K$ in a pre-seed round. Finally we also give them an office space to begin their firm and a real network to help them.
- Can you speak about your Founder Institute program?
Launched in 2016, Founder Institute is Silicon Valley program that we brought to Myanmar. It is the idea-stage and startup launch program that lasts 3,5 months where we help entrepreneurs reach their next steps. Some people fail to end this program but those who finish it are often funded by us after in a pre-seed round and join our Phandeeyar Accelerator program. During these 3,5 months we have weekly workshops, meeting with the entrepreneurs, who are evaluated on the same basis. This evaluation is a weekly pitch with some assignments in parallel. The entrepreneurs need a good grade to evolve in the program.
- What are your criterias for this program?
We want few things before considering really an application. We need the firm to be a Burmese firm, we highly encourage founders to work in teams We also want people to have more than an idea which means a market study and a MVP tested on few customers. But these are almost the only criterias we have before taking into account the application with the sector which means that the startup must be related to technologies generally speaking. We want to help a maximum of entrepreneurs to create a real ecosystem in Myanmar and we are helping them from the very beginning.
- What do you think about the Burmese ecosystem?
I think there is a lot to discuss about, I think that it is very difficult as the market is not ready to some innovations,so we have to do it step by step. There are many inequalities between the regions of the country and we have to educate people about this ecosystem. First in the big cities and then in the whole country.
- In what sector are you investing in?
I would say that we have no real criterias but that the firm is related to technologies as our teams have a real insight on it. We want to choose our startups more on quality criterias than on the sector I think.
- What are the next steps for Phandeeyar?
As we were the pioneer of the accelerator type in Yangon, we still want to be a pioneer in the Burmese entrepreneurship ecosystem. Now that some accelerators were created, we want to help entrepreneurs in other ways such as in their scale-up because there is no such actor in Myanmar.
- What is the startup of your portfolio with the most potential to your mind?
This is quite hard to choose, but in terms of potential I would say “Recyglo”, because there is a real recycling problem in Myanmar and that they just got a huge amount of money in their new round of funding. Actually, 6 startups raised more fund after our programs for a combined amount of more than $700K.