LINE, the four-year-old Japanese mobile messaging app, has branched out a lot since inception. Its business now comprises games, content and payments aside from messaging. More than that, it has done extremely well in the Thai market, with 33 million users now on board.
LINE’s Managing Director for Thailand, Ariya Banomyong, kicked off Echelon Thailand 2015 with a keynote. Besides announcing the launch of ‘Gift Shop,’ a new app that lets users send gifts like coffee, books and movie tickets to their friends, Banomyong also shared what LINE has in the pipeline.
“We’re in [the] process of forming our own dev (development) team in Thailand, we’ll be the second country after Taiwan to have our own team. For us, it’s very important. It’ll make us very proud to be able to develop new services from Thailand instead of taking them from Japan and Korea then localising it for Thai people. So that’s a big deal for us,” he said.
Banomyang on Thailand’s ecosystem
Besides company updates, Banomyong also dug deep and shared his honest perspective on the problem with the Thai ecosystem.
He chided local entrepreneurs who reach for low-hanging fruit instead of solving real problems. A “marketeer at heart,” he said that he felt “disruption” as a word is overused.
“I think we, as a community, have to challenge ourselves. What are we disrupting and who are we doing it for? It’s a chicken and egg situation. Where VCs are investing, that’s where people are going to create new startups so it’s biasing the need,” he said and suggested two systems that are in dire need of disruption.
“One is education. I’d like to see more startups there. We need that in Thailand and other countries. Another is traffic. These are real problems, if you ask me.”
Along with calling for solutions to real problems, he also suggested that startups work more closely with corporates to get the innovation train rolling.
“Five years ago, I would have said ‘bad idea’ — big corporates are not open to disruption and new ideas. But now? They’re much more open. But, right now, they’re much more about investing and they haven’t quite innovated yet.”
To end his keynote at Echelon, Banomyong hopped off stage and took a selfie with the audience.
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