After seven of 11 companies from last year’s dtac Accelerate programme raised over US$1.9 million in follow-on funding, it is once again time to get excited about the next batch.

Batch 5 is introducing some tweaks to the programme; most notably is the decision to start an ‘incubation’ and an ‘acceleration’ track.

The incubation track will be for companies with an idea and passionate team but need help getting off the ground. The accelerate track targets startups with a clear business model and product, but who need help in development to achieve growth.

Furthermore, dtac also introduced a new service called ‘Global Expansion Track’. Global Expansion track aims to leverage on global partnerships from Thailand and Southeast Asia to Silicon Valley to help startups find opportunities to scale globally.

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Batch 5 partners will include Google Developer, Facebook and corporate VC arms (CVCs) like Muang Thai Life Insurance and Thai Wah (who aim to adopt innovation and technology from dtac to give their companies a boost).

The two CVCs have invested in previous dtac Accelerate alumni Health at Home (Muang Thai) and Freshket (Thia Wah). Two weeks ago, Freshket announced that it had raised a ‘six-digit’ round of fresh financing.

Notable mentors include Maneerut (Nok) Anulomsombut, the CEO of Garena Thailand, Ariya Banomyong, Managing Director of LINE Thailand and Natavudh Pungcharoenpong, the CEO of Ookbee.

The goals for 2020

Lars Norling, The CEO of dtac, said by 2020 dtac Accelerate hopes to grow the aggregate value of portfolio startups to THB5 billion (US$143 million). He also wants to support global expansion in 13 countries and have one the alumni companies achieve Unicorn status.

Along with the ambitious goals, Norling also highlighted the progress achieved thus far, with the current portoflio generating 2 billion baht in revenue in 2016, and creating more than 10,000 jobs.

“In 2013, we launched dtac accelerate, a startup incubator to empower and bring Thai startups to global stage. Within 4 years, dtac accelerate has become an established and fast-growing company and a key component of dtac’s mission to become the number one digital brand in Thailand, delivering product and service innovations to over 25 million subscribers,” he said. 

Addressing the press, Mr Andrew Kvalseth, the Chief Digital Officer of dtac, emphasised that the reason for success is the focus on what dtac can do for the startups rather than what the startups can do for dtac. One avenue of doing so includes partnerships with the startups to access dtac subscribers in Thailand.

dtac has partnered with the startups and launched various promotional campaigns to dtac subscribers, such as product and service packages from Skootar, Fastwork, and GizTix for SME clients,” Kvalseth explained as an example. 

However, if startups want to get an idea of what dtac Accelerate is really about, the programme’s Director, Sompoat (Meng) Chansomboon, summed it up best:

“The program is open for anything mobile, anything Internet, and anything awesome.”

Telenor Group, which owns 42.6 per cent of dtac’s issued shares,  has followed the dtac Accelerate model to encourage intrapreneurship through the “Telenor Ignite Incubator”.

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dtac Accelerate batch 5 opens for application from now until March 31, 2017. Interested persons can find more details and submit their application at http://accelerate.dtac.co.th/. Pitch Clinic will be held on March 25 to help applicants prepare their proposals. The announcement of final 20 teams will be on April 11.

The 20 selected teams will pitch in front of the panel of judges on Pitch Day, April 24, and the finalists will be selected to attend an intensive bootcamp from May to August, 2017. The final round of pitching and the winners will be announced on Demo Day in August.