The Promise of Bangkok as the Next Big Startup Hub
It’s not surprising that Thailand’s startup scene is booming and talked about as a popular alternative for offshoring destinations like India or Ukraine.
Thailand’s startup scene is still pretty young, with a limited number of angel investors and VCs focusing on the seed stage. However, the Thai government made a huge move this year. It plans to roll out a $570 million USD venture fund for young tech-firms to enhance innovation and grow the country’s digital economy. According to Information and Communication Techology (ICT) minister Uttama Savanayana, the fund is aimed to finance 2,500 existing startups in Thailand. Furthermore, the minister also said the fund was to raise the number of startups in the country to 10,000 within two years.
The Thailand startup ecosystem over the last five years has been tremendous. Here are some incredible statistics about the Thai startup scene:
- Total disclosed startup funding growth rate from the last five years is 2140%.
- Number of active investors has increased from one to eight: East ventures, Cyberagent ventures, 500 startups, 500 Tuk Tuks, Golden gate ventures, Ardent Capita, and Invent.
- The hottest sectors in terms of number of deals: (1. E-commerce, 2. Fintech, 3. Logistics, 4. Payments, 5. Gaming)
- Number of funded startups: three startups in 2012, 72+ in 2016.
- The biggest startup exits: Paysbuy existed in 2008 with $24 million USD by DTAC, Thai phone operator.
As you can see from above, the entrepreneurial spirit on the streets of Bangkok is observable.
Thailand has a lot going for it, and it’s a great outsourcing destination for some startups looking to build up teams into relevant resources. The Thailand BOI, which stands for board of investment, is one of the biggest attractions for startups.
*Quick note: The Thai BOI operates under the ministry of industry and is the principal.
Is Bangkok the Next Hidden Silicon Valley?
Bangkok is currently showing one of the fastest booming startup scenes. Although, it used to be the underdog of the global startup hub, it is now the leading startup scene in Southeast Asia. There are five reasons why Bangkok will be the next Silicon Valley to launch your startup: steady improvement since 2011, a wave of new graduates, foreign investment and an increasing number of startups.
The country is transforming. The rise of tech-startups and the increase in opportunities is driving entrepreneurs from all over the world to gather in Bangkok; however, not for tourism purposes, but to build their empire.
ACommerce, a full service e-commerce solution provider, was the first Thai-startup to break records for Series A funding in Southeast Asia and has served as an inspiration for others.
The rise of co-working spaces has allowed for manageable business operations. Additionally, the lower cost of living helps founders stretch their finances and create a longer operation for their startups. And it is exactly why more and more startups and entrepreneurs are taking full advantage of it.
Where there are co-working spaces, there are also entrepreneurs.
I’m fortunate to work at the current office in Rama 9, CBD of Bangkok, with a co-working space style to encourage networking with like-minded entrepreneurs.
What are the pitfalls?
However there is still an absolute skill-gap. The scale required for a large operation seems to not be here yet. We still need another two to five years of fresh graduates coming through to become the center for IT outsourcing.
Negotiating in Thailand is likely to be complicated when you create a startup. You can’t just startup launching an operation into the country. D8ii have a local team as well as a partnership with MSNA Group that have worked with for years. They have the experience to set up and help startups kickstart quickly. At D8ii, I’m able to find and build talented international developers that enabled us to expand our market into global, mainly UK market to develop software for an early-stage startups.
The Future of Thailand is Bright
It’s still the early days for Thailand compared to Silicon Valley, but there’s a whole new generation of talent and startups popping up everyday. The investment that the Thai government just made this year will only accelerate the tech-startup sector.
As being part of startup evolution with D8ii limited, I’m thrilled as expecting great things happening within the next two years, and I aim to be at the core part of it with my team.
I want to make Bangkok into the next Silicon Valley.
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D8ii Limited specialises in offshore outsourcing for startups and SMEs around the world from Bangkok.