Our mascot, a happy mouse

Siphone Sounnalad

Writer, entrepreneur, and computer handyman

Siphone's computer shop Siphone has been part of Big Brother Mouse right from the start. While Siphone was a student at Teacher Training College in Luang Pragang, Sasha brought him three used computers from Thailand, which Siphone installed in his bedroom. The idea was to make computer time available very cheaply to other students.

Originally, Siphone expected that students would use language software on the computers, to improve their English skills. Demand was slow at first but Siphone stuck with it, spreading the word, and experimenting with different approaches. Eventually it became clear that students were more eager to learn computer skills that could help them in the job market: word processing, spreadsheets, and Photoshop. Siphone changed the shop's focus. He wrote simple textbooks in Lao to teach those skills, and business grew. He later expanded to a larger building, with 10 computers, a small library, and movie time on weekends – often the high point of the week for students who work full-time while going to school. With no good computer repair shop in Luang Prabang, he went to Thailand and took a short course in computer maintainance. In a shop with 10 computers and hundreds of inexperienced users coming through, he had plenty of opportunity to keep developing those skills.

photo of Siphone Back in 2004, Siphone's first employee at his computer shop was Khamla. They had been novice monks together, and were still close and trusted friends. Sasha and Khamla, who later formed Big Brother Mouse together, met at Siphone's shop.

Siphone wrote two of our first books. He collected four traditional Lao folktales in The Cat that Meditated. Then he wrote Baby Frog, Baby Monkey, a rhyming book about animal babies. He followed these with an alphabet book, Funny Letters; a collection of stories about Laos's most famous folk hero, Xieng Mieng; a book about good, nutrition, and parasites, What Happens to Your Food?; and The Picture Thesaurus, which we believe is the first thesaurus in Laos.

Today most students have a laptop or similar device, so the computer shop has closed. Siphone has become a part-owner of Big Brother Mouse, where he works full-time. While he brings many useful skills, one that we are endlessly grateful for is that he knows how to keep computers running.