Internship Experience @ TechGrind, ASEAN Startup Incubator

The following is an interview with Roy Melissen, A student intern from Holland who had just recently finished his internship with TechGrind, a South East Asia Startups incubator.

First of all, could you tell us a bit more about yourself? What’s your back story?

Hi, my name is Roy Melissen. I came from Holland, I’m a 3rd year student studying international business & Economics. I had one Entrepreneurship project in school, which is kind of like a students-led Startup, so I decided to look for an internship along that line. I was also one of the only person looking for internship abroad in my class. The plan was first to go to Asia, to learn different culture and to really get out of my comfort zone. That’s when I found TechGrind as an option. Then I hopped on the plane and now I am here!

What does an ordinary day look like at TechGrind?

There is no ordinary day, as everyday is going differently. You never see the same work and that’s what I like. There is a lot to focus on, and even if you encounter some obstacles you can always talk to mentors like Pavel and Efraim (General Partners at TechGrind), who are both very helpful. The company is ran on a distributed team, so I had to get used to working remotely. Instead of working face to face, I spent a lot of time video calling with Skype & Google Hangouts. It was something new for me to get used to. Other than that, I spent a lot of time at their office and attending the local Startup events they host.

What were your areas of responsibility?

So my role was ‘Financial Analyst’, essentially anything to do with finance. The problem is each companies within the incubator are widely different, hence there was a wide variety of work to be done.

In one example, I was doing Scenario Analysis for Transporters.IO . As I was working very closely with them, they even invited me to one of the regional Transportation Event in Bangkok. It was an eye-opener and a new refreshing experience into an industry I did not knew much about.

On the other hand, I was also working with Pymlo, a Cloud Accounting Startup for two days a week, very nice guys and very cool platform. I made financial reports for them regarding Southeast Asia market.

Aside from the incubated companies, I also worked with the Venture Capital side, now because the team is very international eg. America, Singapore, Philippines, you only see them on video chats. In the beginning it was a rather difficult, but I got used to it later on.

What is your favorite experience and takeaways?

Definitely really enjoyed the Events! first week we got SLAP and GAP (local startup events hosted by TechGrind). Slap was super crowded the first time I was there, a good 50 people attended from a variety of backgrounds. My favorite part is seeing Founders who seemed super introverted at first, but after they started talking about their ideas and their companies, they were very passionate and seemed like different people.

My perspective in Startups definitely changed as well. I used to think about starting a company but I wasn’t so serious about it. However, now from being around Startups so much, I started seeing a lot of opportunity. Especially out here in South East Asia. I came to Thailand before but often as a tourist.

There are a lot of problems to be solved here, more so than in the developed countries which is why I think Startup scene is booming in the emerging market.

There are now more investors, co-working spaces, TechGrind here is trying to make the ecosystem even bigger with their events. There is a lot more going on than I expected.

What’s the next big thing for you?

*laughs* Now that I’m even more interested in the startup scene, I think I changed my mind into thinking about what I could do and what problem can be solved. I’m personally very interested in the tourism sector so maybe I will pursue something in that space. Honestly now I’m more open minded than ever.

Any advises for people in your shoes, or Aspiring Entrepreneurs, Students interested in doing startups in Thailand?

If you are in doubt about moving to Thailand, don’t be scared as you can find any thing you will find in your home country. The crime rate here might be even lower than where you came from, it is very safe. You gain so much experience and so much opportunity than you think.

South East Asia is an emerging market that’s considered the fastest growing startup ecosystem in the world. With over 3.8 million users coming online every single month and exponential amount of VC investments in the past 5 years.

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