Our mission is to serve as the primary source of information on the Thai Startup scene with the intention to increase interest in our tight knit startup community and build bridges with other startup communities throughout the region and the world.
From November 18th to November 29th, the first iStart@Thailand program was hosted at Launchpad. I had the privilege of serving as a mentor at all the mentoring sessions and attending many of the startup events in which the iStart participants were invited to attend. The iStart participants consisted of 13 Singapore-based later-stage startups who successfully passed through a rigorous application process to have the opportunity to expand into the Thailand market by forging strategic partnerships with either large Thai telecom or media companies and Thai startups.
What is iStart@Thailand?
Tuesday, November 26th Ian and I were cordially invited to attend a special edition of the WebMob event series at MyBar, Dusit Thani Hotel. The event included presentations by two distinguished speakers and the attendance of 13 Singaporean startups who travelled here to participate in the two-week long iStart Thailand Program organized by Expara, a Singapore-based VC firm.
This past Tuesday Ian and I were invited, along with 120+ others, to attend the third meeting of Bangkok Investors & Entrepreneurs network, established earlier this year by Stephen Hinch and Nic Craven. Bangkok Investors and Entrepreneurs network is a group of professionals, business people and students interested in general investing and private equity opportunities in Thailand and its surrounding regions. The group was launched in May, 2013 as a forum to build partnerships and sharing of knowledge on issues including: Economic, Monetary, Investment and Business insights from around the world that apply to the broader ASEAN region and Thailand. The group now has 250 members and commenced their first forum event on August 1st, 2013 drawing a group of 65 members together.
Lessons to be Learned from Sri Lanka on Social Entrepreneurship
This past weekend I was invited to attend the World Summit Awards Conference 2013 in Sri Lanka. The WSA is a global initiative focusing on cultural identity and diversity with its mission to bridge the “digital divide” and narrowing the “content gap.” To accomplish this WSA selects projects through its global network of representatives who nominate ventures created to make a positive social impact consistent with WSA goals. A Jury meets to pick the five final nominees in each of eight e-content categories. A bi-annual event is held to select the winners of each category and provide an international forum where e-content issues can be discussed. This years’ bi-annual award event was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka where I had the great honor to be invited as a speaker and juror.
Conference Attendees & Activities
As the Thai startup ecosystem continues to experience its rapid progress and development we should expect and embrace all newcomers to our community and encourage them to make positive contributions. Indeed, Thais are seizing the greater opportunities available and most expats, whether just geeks or pursuing entrepreneurial ventures themselves, could not imagine a better place to be.
A hallmark of our community is its inclusiveness. The spirit of collaboration and working in close-knit teams seems to be a Thai cultural trait and the history of the Thai startup community has been a productive mix of both expats and Thais. For evidence in how close knit our community is one only needs to observe what happens every time someone wants to make negative unsubstantiated characterizations of the Thai startup scene from the outside on social networks. That individual walks into a buzz saw of prompt responses from many defenders who are firmly embedded and passionate about the Thai startup community.
Wednesday evening, October 9th, 2013, about 80 of us were treated to an enjoyable night at Hubba with an introduction of a proposed Founder Institute for Thailand conducted by Krating Poonpol (CEO & Founder of Disrupt University) and Charle Charoenphan (MD of Hubba). This was followed by a revealing and informative presentation by Thomas Laboutka, co-founder of recently funded HotelQuickly.
Through their apps Uber provides seamless connections between passengers and drivers offering more transportation options for riders and more business opportunities for professional drivers. Through the app a prospective passenger calls an on-demand driver and makes a mobile payment. Their objective is to make cities more accessible and currently they have their sights on Thailand. Allen is here on an exploratory mission and to commence his search for local entrepreneurial minded individuals interested in perhaps joining a local founding team.
Echelon Ignite, the largest startup event in Thailand this year, was a resounding success. For all those that attended there could be little doubt that the Thailand startup scene was finally receiving just international recognition and notably increased investment interest. Echelon Ignite was the perfect venue to highlight all the tremendous progress that has been made in the past year. Prospective investors not only came from Singapore but from America, Japan, Korea, and many other countries throughout the region. The increased investment interest heightens the hopeful prospect that investment funding and sustainable growth are in the immediate future for Thai startups who are developing winning products, have set reasonable but ambitious goals, identified appropriate metrics to measure their progress, think in regional or global terms and can identify a payment solution appropriate for their monetization strategies.
Mobile Monday Bangkok (MoMoBKK) held its 7th event on September 30th, 2013 at the Marriott Sukhumvit Hotel in Thong Lor, Bangkok. MoMoBKK’s events are one of the keystones of the Bangkok startup ecosystem’s regular event schedule.
Rovio, creators of Angry Birds, was the headliner representing the mobile gaming segment. Gaming apps are the gorillas of the app market and Rovio is basically the King Kong of them all. I think the Rovio is a great example of an app company building out its brand and it is great that MoMoBKK was able to get Senior Vice President Asia, Henri Holm, to come and present.
Fiksu, a mobile marketing company, also gave a presentation. Fiksu offers customized marketing platform that aggregates mobile ad networks to help smartphone app publishers with gaining and keeping users.