Myanmar got its own social network: Squar

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Rita Nguyen
Rita Nguyen

Facebook got new competition in a fast growing market: Myanmar’s homegrown social media platform Squar, which was launched last year and has since caught attention of many.

The network has been set up by a team led by Rita Nguyen, a Vietnamese-Canadian who has moved to Myanmar and created the local-language social media site aimed specifically at the long-isolated country’s youth.

With a background in mobile gaming and social networking, Nguyen is helping to fuel an internet revolution, just as the country starts to build out its 3G networks. Squar was launched last June with seed capital of $500,000 from angel investors in return for a 20 per cent stake. It is targeting 1.5 million members by year-end 2014 out of a population of around 60 million. Nguyen, who is CEO, and her cofounder and vice president of operations, Quynh Anh Nguyen, own most of the rest of the company.

Nguyen says she plans to monetize Squar through advertising and partnerships with big consumer brands, and as the site evolves she will add gaming and e-commerce, although  Nguyen says she won’t offer e-commerce based on a Western model that requires credit cards as most Burmese don’t have them.

In just a few months after launch, there are already hundreds of online community groups blossoming on Squar. These groups are centerd on topics as varied as photography, parenting, design and dental health. Users comment, share tips and interact in chain-like conversations similar to Facebook status updates.

Some companies are already diving into social media to facilitate brand launches in Myanmar’s expanding commercial market. As part of its landmark launch in the country, Coca-Cola paired with Squar for its “Happiness” campaign to promote its 300-kyat (about $0.30) Coca-Cola products. While the company created its own Facebook page to connect with Myanmar’s growing number of users, it paired with Nguyen’s site with a focus on long-term campaigning and information sharing – trends rooted in the rumour mill society of the dictatorship years.

Other business partners are Unilever, HTC and Ooredoo. There are 11 Squar employees in Yangon, mostly handling marketing, and a nine-person development team in Ho Chi Minh City.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Rita Nguyen

Facebook got new competition in a fast growing market: Myanmar’s homegrown social media platform Squar, which was launched last year and has since caught attention of many.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Rita Nguyen
Rita Nguyen

Facebook got new competition in a fast growing market: Myanmar’s homegrown social media platform Squar, which was launched last year and has since caught attention of many.

The network has been set up by a team led by Rita Nguyen, a Vietnamese-Canadian who has moved to Myanmar and created the local-language social media site aimed specifically at the long-isolated country’s youth.

With a background in mobile gaming and social networking, Nguyen is helping to fuel an internet revolution, just as the country starts to build out its 3G networks. Squar was launched last June with seed capital of $500,000 from angel investors in return for a 20 per cent stake. It is targeting 1.5 million members by year-end 2014 out of a population of around 60 million. Nguyen, who is CEO, and her cofounder and vice president of operations, Quynh Anh Nguyen, own most of the rest of the company.

Nguyen says she plans to monetize Squar through advertising and partnerships with big consumer brands, and as the site evolves she will add gaming and e-commerce, although  Nguyen says she won’t offer e-commerce based on a Western model that requires credit cards as most Burmese don’t have them.

In just a few months after launch, there are already hundreds of online community groups blossoming on Squar. These groups are centerd on topics as varied as photography, parenting, design and dental health. Users comment, share tips and interact in chain-like conversations similar to Facebook status updates.

Some companies are already diving into social media to facilitate brand launches in Myanmar’s expanding commercial market. As part of its landmark launch in the country, Coca-Cola paired with Squar for its “Happiness” campaign to promote its 300-kyat (about $0.30) Coca-Cola products. While the company created its own Facebook page to connect with Myanmar’s growing number of users, it paired with Nguyen’s site with a focus on long-term campaigning and information sharing – trends rooted in the rumour mill society of the dictatorship years.

Other business partners are Unilever, HTC and Ooredoo. There are 11 Squar employees in Yangon, mostly handling marketing, and a nine-person development team in Ho Chi Minh City.

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