Thailand, a country renowned for its white sandy beaches, balmy tropical climate, and rich culture has firmly cemented its place on the bucket lists of travel enthusiasts worldwide. And recently, it has started to slowly sneak into the bucket lists of tech entrepreneurs too.
With Thailand’s population nearing 70 million, the country is a major player in the Southeast Asian market and many home-grown tech companies are booming. In terms of start-ups, Thailand has seen a massive expansion since 2014.
As of 2018 records, there were around 57 million internet users, 124.8 million mobile subscriptions (with 30% of them having 4G network subscription), 46 million active mobile social media users, and 55.56 million unique mobile phone users in Thailand. These numbers perfectly highlight the influence of technology and its integration into the lives of Thai people.
Thanks to venture capital firms, angel investors, and incubation programmes, talented tech entrepreneurs in Thailand are thriving. Start-ups dedicated to financial technologies are gaining significant traction from investors as we are seeing cashless payments becoming increasingly popular. All 7-Eleven stores in Thailand now accept cashless payments via TrueMoney Wallet without any minimum purchase limit. This means you can pay for a 10-baht snack with your credit or debit cards linked to the application.
E-commerce, transport, and logistics start-ups are also among the top businesses in Thailand’s digital economy. E-commerce websites have eliminated the hassle of having to go outside and get stuck in traffic for hours to buy something. In addition, they allow us to buy things from overseas that cannot be found locally. Despite the ongoing traffic issues in the metropolis of Bangkok, improvements in transport and logistics have made getting things from point A to point B easier than ever.
So, what makes investors so keen to invest in start-ups in Thailand?
Due to its geographical location, Thailand is perfectly placed in the very centre of Southeast Asia. It’s an ideal hub for the region with six international airports connecting the country to the outside world. The door for investment opportunities is simply massive. Moreover, with the country set to improve its technological infrastructures to support rapid growth, the start-up ecosystem will only get better.
Affordability is key when it comes to workspace and Thailand is well-known for that too. Ample office space is essential for start-ups in Thailand or anywhere else in the world to scale up, and offices in Thailand are generally much more affordable in comparison to the West. For start-ups that are still in the incubation process, affordable meeting spaces and co-working spaces are widely available.
Thailand does not only attract tourists, but it also attracts tech talents thanks to its affordability and geographical advantages. From emerging tech talents, to highly experienced professionals, Thailand is an excellent home for all.
Top tips for launching a start-up in Thailand
1. Know your governmental agencies:
- Department of Business Development: Has all the necessary information on types of business and how to register a company
- National Innovation Agency: Helps provide solutions and innovations to grow your products and business
- Revenue Department: The relevant authority for all things tax related in Thailand
- Thailand Board of Investment: Provides information on government incentives for businesses looking to move into the Thai market
2. Follow local events/news
- The Bangkok Post: Thailand’s most popular English language media outlet
- The Nation: Another very popular English language media outlet
- Techsauce: A resource for start-ups looking to make Thailand their home
- Startup Thailand: A great resource offering advice to start-ups in Thailand
3. Connecting through chambers of commerce
- Chambers of commerce are a great resource for newcomers to Thailand to connect and find out important information about starting a business in Thailand
- The biggest chambers of commerce are AMCHAM, AustCham, British Chamber of Commerce in Thailand, German-Thai Chamber of Commerce and French-Thai Chamber of Commerce
4. Know your market
- There are numerous digital marketing agencies and consultants that can guide you through the process of establishing your tech start-up in Thailand
This new decade is a wonderful time for start-ups in Thailand to breakthrough and gain national as well as global success. In the coming years, we may very well see Bangkok become the Silicon Valley of Southeast Asia.