The startup ecosystem rose to prominence with the most progress made within the last decade. In 2012, only three startups achieved funding. Since then, those figures have spiked to 60 funded startups in 2015 and 75 in 2016. With this, there has been a parallel growth in investors and accelerators as the country becomes one of increasing interest for startups.
Major corporations and investors are actively working to foster the ecosystem and this has undoubtedly propelled its growth. It is interesting to note the deal flow in Thailand, especially between 2015 and 2016. While the quantity of startup deals have remained fairly constant, the same cannot be said for the value of deals made, showing an incredible 159% increase from US$39 million to US$86 million. And this is only for disclosed investments. In fact, the true value would be much higher.
Ookbee, a digital publications platform managed to secure the largest ever deal for Thai startups – US$19 million by Chinese-owned Tencent. This was closely followed by payment gateway Omise Pat US$17.5 million and online shopping destination Orami at US$15 million.
The potential of the Thai startup ecosystem is enormous and its currently trajectory is set to continue with further support from external parties.
Hubba describes itself as the “go to place to learn and get plugged into the Thai startup community”. It opened in 2012 as Thailand’s first ever co-working space for startups, creatives and freelancers. In these 5 short years, it has earned the reputation of being the largest co-working network, operating 6 spaces across 3 cities.
Hubba goes beyond the usual functions of a co-working space successfully organising many tech startup events such as Startup Weekend Bangkok and Startup Next. Its joint venture with Techsauce is also working to create “Thailand’s leading technology media company”.
Mobile provider Total Access Communication Public Company Ltd (DTAC) launched its “intensive bootcamp” – DTAC Accelerate in 2013 and has since graduated 4 “batches” of startups. The 4-month programme gives budding startups access to capital, mentors and investors all in the one space. It offers commercialisation support from dtac’s parent company Telenor as well as legal, accounting and financial support from Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC)
In mid-2018, True Corporation is set to open a massive tech hub – the True Digital Park. This half a billion dollar (US$) project works hand in hand with the Thai government’s goal of transforming the country into an innovation centre.
Thai startups are gaining interest among local and international VCs alike. In 2015, the most active investor in Thai startups has been 500 Tuk Tuks – a US$10 million micro-fund managed by 500 Startups, closing 20 deals in the year. They were closely followed by 500 Startups itself at 11 deals and Invent – a Thailand based VC. Since then, 2 crowdfunding platforms for startups – Dreamaker and SinWattana have also been established.