Launched by the Thai government in 2016, the new economic transformation strategy – ‘Thailand 4.0’ aims to accelerate industrial transformation and to promote innovation, creativity, and advanced technology. Thailand has made remarkable economic development to further its strategy as Asia’s business center for multinational companies looking to penetrate into the Asian consumer market. Even though there are some challenges remaining due to political factors and the COVID-19 pandemic, many innovative business models have been created to accelerate the digitalization of the companies’ services and recent startups specializing in fintech, e-commerce, online trading, and SaaS have become more trending. Major steps have been taken to create ecosystems for startup incubation as it follows the ‘Thailand 4.0’ policies to support startup development at all stages. The steps include financial support and risk management, capacity-building for Thai and international startups, and increased connectivity with the regional and global communities. And so, STARTBOARD held the Thailand Theme Night on November 19th, 2021 in hope to encourage more entrepreneurs nor investors who are interested in the Thailand market to have a better understanding of the startup environment.
Prior to the main sharing session from the speakers, we received a few welcoming speeches from our special guests at the event. Firstly, Acting Executive Director of Thailand Trade and Economic Office (TTEO) Mr. Sunh Arunrugstichai briefly explained Thailand’s development as a country. Despite the COVID situation, the bilateral trade and investment between Taiwan and Thailand are still sailing smoothly. In terms of ease of doing business in Thailand, it recently has shown more opportunities, especially to young entrepreneurs, due to increased internet access and access to mobile banking. Moreover, he also mentioned how the Thai government has been initiating an Eastern Economic Corridor project (EEC) to prepare the zone for the digital era by emphasizing in the 12 industries that are considered as important drivers for the country’s sustainable development.
Assistance Investment Promotion Officer of Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) in Taipei Office Mr. Kittipong Thapanapaha talked about ‘Thailand Investment Opportunity for Digital Industry’ and briefly explained why chose Thailand as a place to invest. Thailand is considered as the Crossroads of ASEAN due to the country being surrounded by the world’s economic powerhouses which can provide more opportunities for startups and investors to not just focus on Thailand, but also on the surrounding neighboring countries. The country has also been recognized to be a manufacturing-based industry for decades but it’s time to move forward with the Thai government strategy called ‘Thailand 4.0’ so as to enhance efficiency in the production process and increase competitiveness. He also briefly introduced the BOI promotion incentive package and the digital promotable activities.
Director of Thai Trade Office in Taipei Ms. Kallaya Leewongcharoen briefly introduced the Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP) with its mission to help Thai entrepreneurs to be competitive on the global stage by providing consultation and facilitating them through various service channels. It is also DITP’s mission to increase business opportunities for Thai products and services through international trade shows while also continually increasing the quality of their services.
Representative of Thai Student Association in Taiwan (TSAT) Ms. Natwara Lohapraditakon briefly introduced TSAT which is an online community where Thai students gather together to share information about life and education in Taiwan. TSAT has done collaboration and receives funding from the TTEO for the events and gatherings they hold each year.
Vice President of NTUST Thai Student Association Mr. Chairat Mooksri briefly introduced the NTUST Thai Student Association in hopes that through this event the Thai students from NTUST can get more opportunities in the future such as special seminars, workshops, collaboration from organizations, or sponsorships.
In the video, President of Taiwanese Student Association in Thailand Mr. Nicolas briefly introduced the Taiwanese Student Association in Thailand which is officially the first Taiwanese student organization in Southeast Asia. Their organization’s main emphasis is to strengthen the relationship between full-time and exchange students that are living in Thailand. They also want to advocate the interchange of culture and education between Taiwanese and Thai people, especially the students.
By moving on to the main topics of the event, STARTBOARD has also invited wonderful speakers from different companies to share their experiences in building or expanding their business into Taiwan or Thailand.
The Business Opportunities between Thailand and Taiwan in a Post-pandemic Future
Ms. Woranath Khemasiri as the PwC Thai Accountant (Thai Expert of NETA) shared about the PwC launched the yearly Taiwan CEO Survey by interviewing CEOs of Taiwanese businesses who are listed in the Taiwan stock market and also the private sector. Based on this year’s Taiwan CEO survey, the CEOs’ view towards the post-pandemic future is positive as they expect the business to continuously expand and grow abroad. They also see the potential of Thailand, Korea, and Malaysia to be the biggest markets in the next few years. Due to the pandemic and the rise of conflict between the U.S. and China, it pushed the Taiwanese CEOs to consider risk management of their business and determine the possibility of which country to expand into. Then, she moves on to explain a few things to know about Thailand’s recent economic challenges and prospects for recovery. The tourism sector around the world undoubtedly got affected the most during the pandemic which led people to find places that are safe to travel to. For the country to change into a post-pandemic future, they need to upgrade the automatic sector as they are still traditionally doing business. And as for foreign investment in Thailand, business owners would still encounter some restrictions so they need to make sure that their business complies with the law while also managing to get tax incentives from the government.
Connect the Future by mmWave Technologies
Mr. Su-Wei Chang as the Founder and CEO of TMYTEK mentioned that two important things to remember when moving towards digitalization are energy as in power to the future and communication. The company’s mission is to improve life quality with mmWave bandwidth as the 5G spectrum will keep growing bigger into the future. Then he moved on to talk a little bit about Metaverse which is about connecting the virtual world with reality. With a lot of bandwidth like mmWave, it can support the foundation of Metaverse and also achieve a future where all smart cities are connected. As a startup, he wants the company to be able to solve any problems related to mmWave. And so, the first product they made is BBox which currently has delivered 100 sets of it to companies including KDDI, SoftBank, Fujitsu, several Fortune 500 companies, and research institutions. Furthermore, the company recently announced the world’s 1st 5G mmWave Developer Kit for Academics and Research while also wanting to support mmWave talent incubation. Lastly, the reason Mr. Su-Wei Chang chose to enter the Thailand market other than having good connections with many Thai friends, it’s currently not easy for the business to go back to Europe and the U.S., especially with the recent global economic situation. He concluded that Thailand is considered to be a good place to build businesses for many reasons such as the population being very open to it.
KOL Marketing in Thailand
Ms. Thelma Lin as the Director of Taiwan to South Association talked about how some of the social media are utilized in Thailand. During the pandemic, few of the internet eConomy sectors were on the rise, especially the online media sector. Firstly, Facebook is still widely used by Thai people even with its complex algorithm to reach the target audience. She emphasizes the importance of knowing how the algorithm works and to try an advertisement mix to analyze what kind of content will attract the right audience. Then for marketing through Instagram, picture quality matters because it can attract more followers if the quality of content is good. Last but not least, Youtube is all about putting more emphasis on long-tail SEO, especially in how frequently you update with quality content. In addition to those social media platforms, LINE is also considered to be very popular in Thailand. According to Ms. Thelma Lin, Thailand has the second most LINE users, coming behind Japan as the number one LINE users in the world.
The e-commerce market and industry in thailand
Ms. Bow as the Thailand Marketing Specialist of GDT briefly mentioned the company’s services such as e-commerce, influencer, and payment & fulfillment. In terms of e-commerce solutions, GDT would always recommend building an official website as it’s the best way to build first impressions and gather brand-based memberships. Moreover, nearly 98% of users browse websites via portable devices so owning an application is also useful to save marketing budget and enhance the relationship between customers and brands.
GDT can also provide OMO (Online Merge Offline) solutions and fulfillment solutions; which is about building the company’s very own warehouse. With their solutions, the GDT team is capable of providing the most thoughtful service with effectiveness in cost and time, plus OMO opportunities. Lastly, when Ms. Bow was being asked about the differences in marketing strategies in ASEAN countries, she mentioned some countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia would have their own social media platforms so it may be harder for business owners to penetrate into those markets. However, in the case of Thailand, it has more international platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LINE, etc. The other problem that should be taken into consideration when applying the marketing strategy in other countries such as ASEAN would be the language barrier.
Smart Fitness Solution and Business Model
Ms. Frances Huang as the Business Development Manager of Uniigym introduced the company as a platform that consists of people who love sports and builds solutions for people who love exercise without worrying about time and space. Furthermore, they help to enhance the fitness experience by the use of AR trainers (AI interactive fitness service). The service not only benefits the families but also the trainers who want to build their personal brand. The technology will track the movement for its accuracy and also record exercise history and health data tracking. Lastly, the reason why she chose Thailand for expanding Uniigym services is that the people in Thailand are very open-minded to new things and are looking for convenient ways to connect with each other. So due to already having connections in Thailand, she easily managed to hire trainers, employees and influencers.
After the speeches, we also arranged time for the audience to ask questions and to network with all the speakers. Many Thai students and talents in Taiwan came to build connections with Taiwanese companies and startups. And connecting the entrepreneurial ecosystems of Taiwan and ASEAN countries is always our mission. STARTBOARD will consistently fulfill our vision and we toasted for the continued prosperity of Thailand and the everlasting friendship between our countries.