Three Lao Startups Accepted for the Mekong Innovative Startup Tourism (MIST) Startup Accelerator Program

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The Mekong Business Initiative (MBI) and the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) have announced that three innovative tourism startups from the Lao PDR got accepted for the Mekong Innovative Startup Tourism (MIST) Startup Accelerator program.

More than 250 travel tech and traditional tourism startups applied to the MIST program. The Travel Startups Incubator, based in the United States, screened applications based on their potential for investment and the quality of their business plans. MBI experts performed additional due diligence, considering sustainability and other socio-economic criteria.

Qualifying startups will advance to a MIST Startup Accelerator bootcamp from May 5 to 7, 2017 in Siem Reap, Cambodia, alongside 17 innovative tourism startups from Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam. Market experts (including Deputy Director of TMG Cong Nguyen, Investment Director of Gobi Ventures Victor Chua and Founder of Triip.me Hai Ho) will mentor startups at the bootcamp.

Qualifiers from the Lao PDR include:

Artisan Origins by TAEC offers authentic, traditional and high quality crafts from rural ethnic communities in Lao PDR. It also includes a café and information center for traditional arts and ethnic communities.

Ma Te Sai preserves cultural heritage while developing skills and offering employment options for youth in the remote and rural areas in Lao PDR, including Nambak. It also includes a multipurpose information center and roadside café.

Passa Paa is a design and print boutique studio in Luang Prabang creating and selling innovative Hmong-inspired textiles that promote traditional textile culture with a modern appeal.

“MIST promotes sustainable tourism, giving innovative startups the potential to transform travel in one of the most dynamic regions on earth”, said Jens Threanhart, executive director of MTCO.

Dominic Mellor, head of the MBI, added, “We’re proud of this batch of startups. They are fueling the right kind of tourism growth that positively impacts the tourism experience and local communities”.

Approximately half of all Startup Accelerator finalists, selected by mentors during the Siem Riep bootcamp, will advance from the bootcamp to an investor showcase at the Mekong Tourism Forum in Luang Prabang on June 6, 2017. There, startups will present their business plans to media, investors and an expert judging panel. Ultimately, four will receive innovation grants of $7,000-$10,000 USD.

About MIST: MIST is a leading tourism accelerator for Asia’s top growth markets, giving startups everything they need to launch successfully, achieve profitability, create jobs and impact communities in the Greater Mekong Region. In addition to grants up to $10,000, the MIST startup accelerator offers exposure, connections to local stakeholders and ecosystems, individualized coaching and the chance to network with investors and global accelerator programs. MIST is a joint project of the Mekong Business Initiative (MBI) and the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO). On Facebook: Mekong Innovative Startup Tourism.

About the Mekong Business Initiative (MBI)MBI is an advisory facility that promotes private sector development in Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), Myanmar, and Vietnam. MBI fosters development of the innovation ecosystem by supporting business advocacy, alternative finance and innovation. It is supported by the Asian Development Bank and the Government of Australia. On Facebook: Mekong Business Initiative.

About the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) – MTCO is a collaborative effort between Cambodia, the provinces of Yunnan and Guangxi in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. The mission of the MTCO is to help GMS National Tourism Organizations develop and promote the Mekong as a single travel destination, offering a diversity of good quality and high-yielding sub-regional products that help to distribute the benefits of tourism more widely; add to the tourism development efforts of each GMS destination; contribute to poverty reduction, gender equality and empowerment of women; and minimize any adverse impacts of tourism through the development of a sustainable industry. On social media: @TourismMekong.