At Echelon 2013, we went around asking startup founders from Thailand what the biggest challenges they currently are facing, and how they think these can be resolved.
As the startup ecosystem thrives in Thailand with more involvement from telecomm companies, Universities and entrepreneurship-related organizations, it is key to realize what startup founders in Thailand truly view as the biggest challenge to counter. It is also beneficial to understand how they think these problems can be resolved.
Country background (information correct as of September 2012*) Country: Thailand
Population: 69.52 million (as of 2011)
Internet users: 18.3 million
Facebook users: 15.5 million
Average manufacturing wages: US$263
Unemployment rate: 0.7% (as of 2012)
Q) What is the biggest challenge you think startups in Thailand face right now?
“It’s difficult to find talent and also difficult to integrate with talent from overseas as the regulations set barriers to enter the market.” – Carlos Herrera, CTO at Binumi
“Good guys want to go to top companies. It is difficult to get the good ones to startups.” – Maprang Wichaya, co-founder of Infinit Closet
“To find very unique product solution that sets apart from competitors, and how can you prevent copying? Right now, the challenge is to create the network of users so even if others copy you, they can’t steal your users.” – Pong Yawagun, COO of STAMP
“It is hard to raise money because we do not have many angel investors who understand startups for early-stage investments. It’s also not easy to hire because young people want to get a secure job.” – Denis Demtsev, co-founder of HipFlat
“Learning to build great products for a global audience.” – Jakob Lykkegard, partner at Pocket PlayLab
“Financial. At the moment, there are no institutions like banks or government that can support startups financially. I have seen cool ideas from Thailand but not many of them survive because they lack financial support.” – Nutthaseth “Torn” Sirinanthananon, General Manager at Semantic Touch
“I think right now, the ecosystem is in a booming stage but the challenge is how to make a real expansion to Asia and real exit. We have limited exits and IPO is too difficult. Some regulations for investments are still obstructed.” – Patai Padungtin, Principal Evangelist at Builk Asia
Q) How do you think this can be resolved?
“Allowing the company to set up easier in Thailand. It’s harder to establish a company as a foreigner in Thailand.” - Carlos Herrera, CTO at Binumi
“Startup ecosystems to get bigger and inspire them to doing startups. Of course, Startup Weekend Bangkok is a good start but there should be more support from other organizations and more widespread. When I am telling people I am doing startup, they don’t know what i’m doing.” - Maprang Wichaya, co-founder of Infinit Closet
“By creating large user base, if I’m a competitor I can copy but it would take me long to steal their big customers. Even if I can copy the technology, I don’t have a community.” Pong Yawagun, COO of STAMP
“I think the media is doing good job with the papers writing about startups. More role models, more startups who have made money.” – Denis Demtsev, co-founder of HipFlat
“Learning from experienced startups all over the world.” - Jakob Lykkegard, partner at Pocket PlayLab
“It takes time for government to see innovation is very important for all companies. Most important is that startups should make some money before having their own product.” - Nutthaseth “Torn” Sirinanthananon, General Manager at Semantic Touch
“The neighbor of the ecosystem – we’re connected to Singapore and around the region. This will help the startups exit. Especially now there’s help from government and telco to help push it.” - Patai Padungtin, Principal Evangelist at Builk Asia
*All statistics have been taken from “Southeast Asia: Investment Opportunities, Tax and Other Incentives”