Thailand startup ecosystem [list-tips]

Thailand startup ecosystem

The global enthusiasm for entrepreneurship is well represented in Thailand. Benefiting from several intrinsic advantages, the land of smile is now home to a booming ecosystem supporting and revolving around startups and entrepreneurs in the tech sector as well as in several other industries.

Though the startup ecosystem of Singapore has clearly taken the lead in the region, many other Southeast Asian countries gear up to attract entrepreneurs and funding, especially Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Thailand is also well advanced in this competition for talent. The country has several advantages that make it particularly attractive to entrepreneurs and talents, notably a rather cheap cost of life and office space, a rich, unique and welcoming culture, great food and vibrant nightlife. Thailand is home to a large number of savvy digital users that are especially active on social media.

Numbers of Internet, social media and mobile users in Thailand in January 2017

Located in Phuket, Chiang Mai or more importantly in Bangkok, the startups of Thailand enjoy all these benefits and are well supporting by an rapidly growing ecosystem. With co-working spaces, networking events and incubators periodically popping up and new investors setting up shop next to established onnes, the thai startup ecosystem is maturing.

Overview of the different actors of the startup ecosystem in Thailand

The following image compiled by Techsauce in August 2015 gathers an broad overview of the Thai startup ecosystem: notable startups, events, education programs, incubators and accelerators, government agencies and supporting structures, media, co-working spaces, associations, venture capitalists and business angels, venture builders and companies.

Thailand startup ecosystem 2015
Click on this image to open in full size

With more details on various startups and actors of the ecosystem, the following slide deck details precise activities and specialties of the major actors and supporting structures, with a particular focus on values and funds invested.

Thailand startup ecosystem – summary

  • Introduction – slide 6
  • Thailand in Numbers  – slide 7
  • Thai and Foreign Startups – slide 10
  • Mergers & Acquisitions – slide 12
  • Series C – slide 17
  • Series B – slide 19
  • Series A – slide 22
  • Seed Funding – slide 28
  • MoreThai Startups – slide 36
  • Foreign Startups – slide 39
  • Finance & Funding – slide 43
  • Resources and Organizations – slide 48

Support for Thai startups and digital economy

Information and networking possibilities can easily be found on particular focus groups on social networks such as the Startup Thailand group on Facebook. In Thailand, there is also a quite developed network of structures to help companies and entrepreneurs work, network and grow.

Conscious of the critical impact that digital technologies increasingly weigh in modern economies, the Thai authorities are implementing a set of measures to support the Thai digital economy and technologies startups in Thailand. They intend to focus on 4 aspects to successfully create a digital economy:

  • digital commerce
  • digital entrepreneur
  • digital innovation
  • digital content

The Thailand Board of Investment North America recently published a document reviewing these various policies that can come as a precious help in certain cases. This document also gives its own view on the Thai digital economy and startup ecosystem.

Digital economy, startups and support in Thailand – summary

Introduction – Thailand: land of digital smiles – page 2

5 strategies to ensure the success of the digital economy – page 3

  1. Hard Infrastructure
    • National fiber optic broadband network – Gigabit bandwidth fiber coverage nationwide in 3 years
    • National wireless 3G and 4G broadband networks
    • Expansion of Wi-Fi coverage nationwide
    • Public and private sector data center and cloud infrastructure development
  2. Soft Infrastructure
    • E-payment and E-transaction standards
    • Data privacy protection and cyber-security laws
    • Facilitation and promotion of e-commerce activities
    • Computer emergency response team readiness
  3. Service Infrastructure
    • Rules and regulations for implementation of digitization of government and public services
    • The application of E-logistics to facilitate trade and supply chain management
    • Data service innovation
  4. Digital Economy Promotion and Innovation
    • Low cost enabler technology for e-commerce for SMEs
    • Encourage and facilitate ICT HR development
    • Establishing a data bank of useful digital content for use by local developers
    • Encourage and promote fail-safe data centers and large scale cloud computing facilities for both public and private sectors
  5. Digital Society
    • Digital ICT technology to improve life quality of disabled individuals
    • Implementation of smart cities in Thailand
    • Enhanced medical services in Thailand, especially technologies to reach remote areas

Data centers – page 4

Fertile startup ecosystem – page 5

Support from global technology companies – page 8

Innovative workforce – page 9

Access to markets – page 10

Developed network of supporting organizations – page 11

BOI investment incentives – page 14

For further information:

Profiles of Thai startups and founders

This slide deck provides additional information on the background, motivations and relations of founders, the types of companies and sectors of their startups and their presence in Thailand, Asia and the rest of the world.

Thai Startup Founders Survey 2016 – summary

Founders’ profiles – slide 3

  • Gender – slide 3
  • Age – slide 4
  • Education – slide 5
  • Prior entrepreneurial experience – slide 6

Company profile – slide 7

  • Incorporation – slide 7
  • Funding – slide 8
  • Sector – slide 9
  • Market presence – slide 10

Survey – slide 11

  • Previous occupation – slide 11
  • Number of founders – slide 12
  • Founders remaining – slide 13
  • Company’s CEO background – slide 14
  • Reason to start the company – slide 15
  • Preferences in types of investors – slide 16
  • Technical specialist at company foundation – slide 17
  • Participation in government support programs – slide 18
  • First investor encounter – slide 19
  • Current biggest challenge – slide 20

Presentations from September 2016 by Bangkok Entrepreneurs, December 2015 by the Thailand Board of Investment North America and

2 Replies to “Thailand startup ecosystem [list-tips]”

  1. All sounds good but what about work permits? There is no suitable work permit for foreign startups unless they establish a Thai company employing four Thais.

    1. Hi!

      Yes, work permits and visas are critical concerns for many foreigners in Thailand, especially those who work in small, developing structures such as startups in their launching phases.

      The Thai authorities do want to develop the digital economy; let’s hope they will address these concerns soon if they want to attract skilled, risk-taking and motivated people and enable them to create and grow new businesses in Thailand.

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