The environment is very good for start-ups in Thailand right now. Here are some key trends that are driving growth and creating opportunities for entrepreneurs.
The number of Internet users and app usage are both growing rapidly, increasing the addressable market for online apps and services. This is driven in part by lower-cost smart phones, rapidly improving data network coverage and quality, and services with wide appeal such as Line and Facebook pulling in first-time Internet users.
The number of Facebook and Line users is now almost equal to the number of Internet users in Thailand. These services have tremendous reach and provide a great opportunity for start-ups to communicate with customers, market their products, and sell their services.
Facebook, for example, has been rapidly adopted as a channel for selling products online, with more than 10,000 Facebook pages selling products online in Thailand. Line has also been effective, with 5.6 million customers opting in to recent flash sales offered here.
The cost and complexity of starting an e-commerce business have gone down, and local companies such as aCommerce are providing end-to-end e-commerce solutions. Start-ups can now source not only the website, but also the warehouse, logistics infrastructure and everything else a start-up needs to sell its products or services online.
Payment services, such as our own Paysbuy, are making it easier for online companies to collect payment and monetise their products.
While recruiting top talent and key expertise is difficult in Thailand, there are opportunities as executives, engineers, marketers and others are leaving tech companies like Google, Microsoft and Rocket Internet to move to start-ups.
Global opportunities are available for local start-ups, both with regards to funding and customers. We see an increased interest from foreign investors, including our own Telenor Group, to invest in start-ups in Thailand.
Two examples are Tarad being taken over by Rakuten, and Ensogo by Living Social. Additionally, we see Thai start-ups finding growth outside Thailand; for example, aCommerce expanding into Singapore and Indonesia.
The growth of the Internet of Things will continue as the cost of connectivity and devices continues to go down, presenting opportunities across industries such as transportation, energy management, and surveillance.
A general global trend we see is Android and other OSs moving to new devices driving the “appification of everything”. Once you have Android on a device, like a camera or a watch, entrepreneurs can then innovate on top of those devices, adding new functionality and services.
Another global trend is the explosive growth of wearables. From biofeedback wearables such the Jawbone Up band and Nike+ FuelBand, to smart shoes by Xiaomi and, of course, Google Glass, new wearables are popping up daily.
There are opportunities in the wearables themselves, but also in making applications that run on top of them.
Andrew Kvalseth is division head for Corporate Strategy and Business Innovation at Total Access Communication, more commonly known as DTAC.