Last month, True Corporation, one huge Thai media conglomerate, finally took their first step into the booming startup ecosystem with incubation program, True Incube. Not only were we pleasantly surprised and excited that another major player has showed their support through working hand-in-hand with co-working spaces and experienced mentors, we wanted to know what they thought about the landscape. Of course, their move alone, after dtac and AIS’s venture into the scene, was enough for us to determine that they realized the endless potential in Thailand and its startup ecosystem.
Via an email interview with True Incube incubation program manager Virachai Chusakulporn, we got to understand what True Corp thinks of the ecosystem and what they are looking for in these startups.
1. How would you describe the startup ecosystem in Thailand right now? How would you compare it to a year back?
The current situation of start-up ecosystem in Thailand is on the rise, as we have lot of foundation in place. An example of foundation is the digital consumer market in Thailand is booming, based on the users on Facebook and LINE. Several parties are jumping to enhance the startup ecosystem. We have many co-working spaces ready to host startups in many cities. Seed funds are readily available, either by a growing number of venture capitalists or mentorship driven accelerator/incubator programs. All major telecom operators now establish some form of incubator program. Lastly, the number of startup communities and events is noticeably increasing.
Compared with last year, the startup ecosystem has been more active than ever. People are now more excited to join startup related events such as Startup Weekend, Echelon Satellite, and so on. If you went to Echelon 2013 in Singapore, you can definitely see a big crowd of Thai people at the event. Thai people also cheered the loudest when Thai team NoonSwoon went up for pitching. In summary, the interest in start-up is definitely rising with investors eager to join demo days at various incubator programs.
2. I read the True Incube website and realized that there were a set of topics for applicants to follow like content and media entertainment, e-commerce, online education, digital marketing, e-payment, and other technology-driven products. Would you say that these are trends startups should pick up on?
Actually, the reason we posted these five areas is that we want to help start-up grow and we believe our asset at True Group can definitely contribute to these areas and help entrepreneurs build a successful business. However, we do not limit ourselves to these five areas only. Any applicants with technology-driven products can apply and join our program.
3. What sort of qualities or characteristics do you think the startups should possess should they want to be selected?
We looked for applicants with the following characteristics.
- Determined and persevered
- Has domain knowledge
4. What would you advise the startups to do if they want to be selected and eventually shortlisted for the finalist spot?
Our advice is if they really have a dream to build business, stop “thinking” and follow their dream by start “doing”. All we need is a group of persons who have qualities described earlier with courage to stand up and start doing something about it. Show us the passion in building your business.
5. I saw that there will only be four mentors. Is this list confirmed or will there be more mentors in time to come?
There will be more mentors joining our incubator program. We are looking at at least five mentors as we want each of them to mentor their own team and guide them to success. In addition, we will also have advisors joining the program. The roles of advisors will be to give lecture and guidance on specific topics that they are expert in. Advisors will be coming from our key partners such as 500Startups, successful entrepreneurs and business executives from tech companies.
6. Will this be a yearly effort to help startups or will this just be an one-off thing?
Our mission is to help entrepreneurs create successful business and to enhance start-up ecosystem in Thailand. We are definitely in this for long term and will be looking to have two batches per year starting next year.
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