Overview of Thailand Startup Scene

While Thailand might not be described as the hottest startup ecosystem, the country has seen tremendous growth over the last couple of year both in terms of investment and successful startups. Companies like Eko and Pomelo fashion have taken off across the region and are positioned for continued expansion. Other companies like Moxi and agoda have seen successful exits.

Thailand has the second largest SE Asian economy, right behind Indonesia. It’s geographic position makes it one of the regional hubs, with flights from Bangkok to most major international cities around the globe.

A recent extensive study was completed on Thailand’s startup ecosystem which looked at the growth between 2012 and 2016-and the figures are astounding.

While in 2012 there was 1 Venture Capitalist, 1 accelerator, and 0 startup exits, the number of VCs is now over 60, with 6 accelerators in the country and 8 successful startup exits. In 2016, over 108 million dollars were invested in over 71 startups.

The most active venture funds:

  • 500 startups
  • InVent
  • CyberAgent Ventures
  • Ardent Capital
  • East Ventures
  • Golden Gate Ventures.  

Incubators and accelerators

  • Software Park Incubator
  • True Incube (partnered with 500 startups)
  • DTAC Accelerate
  • AIS The StartUp
  • National Science and Technology Development Agency’s Business Incubation Center
  • Mseed
  • I4-X Accelerator
  • TechGrind Thailand Incubator
  • AIS Startup

Thailand has its own tech media which includes (mostly in Thai):

  • Tech Sauce
  • Blog none
  • Thumbs up

Coworking spaces:

  • Anchor Coworking Space – Pattaya
  • Busy Bees @ 115 – Bangkok
  • Glowfish – Bangkok
  • Guru’s Box – Chiang Mai
  • Hubba – Bangkok
  • JOINT Workspace – Bangkok
  • KoHUB Lanta – Koh Lanta
  • Launchpad – Bangkok
  • Ma’D – Bangkok
  • Muchroom – Bangkok
  • Phuket Coworking – Phuket
  • Pun Space – Chiang Mai
  • Third Place – Bangkok
  • The Hive – Bangkok
  • Makerspace – Chiang Mai
  • Maker Zoo – Bangkok
  • The Startup Factory

For investors to note:

Challenges for startups in the emerging market of Thailand:

  1. Thai people pride themselves on free and cheap deals which makes charging a real challenge for new startups. Thai people will not easily pay for something which they don’t deem to be a good deal and, because piracy is still rampant in the country, they have lower expectations about quality and expectations of cost.
  2. Like many under-developed areas, infrastructure and related costs can be very challenging for young, budget conscious founders. Internet rates are very high, and in certain areas, unreliable. Finding affordable co-working spaces with reliable internet is key.
  3. Education is one of Thailand’s biggest challenges, which means that quality talent is hard to find. Local talent is hard to come by and foreign talent is hard to blend in with local culture and language.
  4. Commitment is not central to the Thai culture, which can sometimes go so far to mean that lower level employees do not show up to work when they switch jobs. Job loyalty is almost non existent for startups.

For investors and companies looking for a sustainable growth model: HR and recruiting is essential.