Overcoming Adversity to Become a Digital Entrepreneur

Like many, Vann Bora lost his income during the pandemic. However, he turned adversity into opportunity to launch a digital advertising business that today employs six full-time staff and 10 freelancers
Vann Bora, founder of YES Creator. Kiripost/Siv Channa
Vann Bora, founder of YES Creator. Kiripost/Siv Channa

In 2020, while facing financial constraints due to the impact of Covid-19, Vann Bora started a new business to try and make up the loss in income from his side hustle.

Like most people, the pandemic unexpectedly took Vann Bora by surprise. With less income from teaching English and selling books online, he was forced to drop out of his second year at university.

He had previously moved from Kampong Chhnang province to Phnom Penh to study a Bachelor’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).

During the pandemic, Bora noticed a surge in e-commerce, including food delivery, delivery apps, and other online businesses.

The 22-year-old decided to turn the problem into a golden opportunity. With a close friend with different skills, he started to produce digital entertainment content.

In the beginning, Bora started a Facebook page to showcase his talk shows and digital media creations. The page also featured videos on how to create and distribute content.

“The pandemic was a terrific chance. It made me unemployed by reducing the number of staff. In those days, I wouldn’t know what to do if I returned home. However, in Phnom Penh, creating anything is a wonderful opportunity,” he said with pride. “The opportunity came from the challenge. So, I launched YES Creator.”

Digital entrepreneur Vann Bora. Kiripost/Siv Channa
Digital entrepreneur Vann Bora. Kiripost/Siv Channa

When starting his digital advertising business, Bora had nothing.

“Early on, we borrowed and rented materials, including a camera, lights, and other equipment. Then there was a big challenge because of the lack of sponsored​ projects.”

The first few months dealt even more challenges. “We had no portfolios to convince clients. They didn’t trust our services. The pandemic also affected our workflow to produce content.”

Bora said YES Creator was born in 2020 with just two computers, which made it difficult to edit videos. However, he was thrown a lifeline when a company paid 50 percent in advance for a project, meaning they were able to invest in equipment.

Vann Bora (right) in one of comedy set in 2022. Kiripost/supplied
Vann Bora (right) in one of comedy set in 2022. Kiripost/supplied

“When they gave us money, we improved our gear, like cameras and computers, and rented some of the gear that we didn't have enough of until we were able to replace everything at once.”

In addition, when the company started, the team had little expertise or much in common, apart from being students at the same institution and come from the different region.

“My friend has the technical talents that I don't have. I have skills that can provide ideas and concepts. When combined, it’s good for this new business. We both come from the provinces," Bora told Kiripost in an interview.

YES Creator currently offers social media marketing services, such as design, photography, film production, creating video content, and management services for online business owners. Producing video content is its main goal.

The founder added his business constantly gets new clients through referrals, and is willing to bargain, and even offer to do free work for a week, in exchange for a contract.

On the basis of posts on various social networking sites, such as Facebook, YouTube, and Tiktok, YES Creator reaches 20,000 views to one million views. In addition, the company now employs six full-time staff and 10 freelancers, who work on support client projects.

Bora believes that YES Creator’s future success depends on the number of clients. Currently, expenses outweigh income, and the company has no financial reserves.

“Family obligations put additional pressure on me to work hard, which means I have to make more effort and sacrifices,” he said. “To achieve our goals, we must make sacrifices. We will accomplish more and take on greater responsibility.”

Bora, who was a Buddhist monk for seven years during his childhood, was born into a poor family living close to mountains in rural Cambodia. “My father was a farmer, a herdsman, a stonemason, and a climber,” Bora said.

Vann Bora (center) in one of comedy set in 2022. Kiripost/supplied
Vann Bora (center) in one of comedy set in 2022. Kiripost/supplied

He added that despite his parents being poor, “they raised their children and provided them with the opportunity to study”.

He said, “I couldn't work hard and was physically not strong when I was young, I sought to learn from an early age. I studied at pagodas. Pagodas are my second home after my home. My parents often say they are poor and have nothing to share, but they believe in education for us.”

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