Overview of Thailand’s Startup Ecosystem



The startup ecosystem in Thailand has grown systematically as Asia’s hidden gem while attracting investors moderately compared to Singapore, Hongkong and China. In various ways, Thailand is more developed industrially and is tied to the West commercially than most of the Southeast Asian countries. There’s also a massive amount of inbound tourism offering investment opportunities in Thailand.

From the beginning of 2020 till now, the startup ecosystem in Thailand faced the greatest challenge from the pandemic outbreaks which affected all the businesses.  However, it also presented the opportunities for the startups to alter their offerings and expand their business as well as market by becoming fully digitalized for instance E-commerce platforms and Online services like Food Delivery which has witnessed an incredible amount of growth.  Digital Content and Online Education Platforms have also seen a steep rise in user growth as well.

Thai Government Role in Supporting Startups

The Thai government is pushing for new regulations and is offering several government grants to startups in the areas of eCommerce, tourism, smart city development, food tech, and others that are considered significant to the Thai economy.

The National Innovation Agency is preparing to push the nation towards a ‘Country of startups’. The NIA together with the public as well as the private sectors is trying to endorse a knowledge-sharing culture and develop databases for the startups to help drive the Thailand market economy and the country’s society forward. The board of national startups laid out four key aspects which include:

  • Building Start-up Ecosystem Awareness – Building awareness for the growth of startups which includes developing centralized public relations and improving public awareness and consideration for startups businesses.
  • Ease of Doing Business – The Thai government has made improving its business environment a key policy by setting the goal of raising its ranking of ease of doing business to the top 20 countries. Developing fundamentals structure for the startups in terms of enhancing the rules and regulations and collecting statistics of startups for analysing and providing appropriate supporting measures and developing areas for innovation.
  • Reinforce Ecosystem – Cultivating startups beginning with the reforms in education to boost new startups from new generations and then followed by augmentation of research and development for innovative technologies along with the developing new institutions for supporting the entrepreneurs.
  • Supports & Incentives – The Thai government has laid down several measures to fund Thai startups and further relaxed regulations for encouraging overseas investors for starting a business in Thailand.  The enhancement of regulations in the equity market for facilitating the growth and development of the startups in the country.

Startup Opportunities in Thailand

Thailand’s startup ecosystem is flourishing in a hyper-growth mode which could drive the country’s economic recovery after the pandemic while the focus would be on large-sized investments in mature startups. In the next 3 to 4 years, there would be startups jumping into the stock market for raising funds, which implies a lot of opportunities for businesses in Thailand in various sectors particularly Fintech, banking, etc.

Businessopportunities in Thailand and its startup ecosystem can be grouped in the following sectors:

E-commerce E-commerce offers a massive investment opportunity in Thailand. The Thai population skews older; however, the Thai people are extremely receptive and adaptive to newer and innovative technology and are also incredibly social media-minded. The island nation constantly bags the spot in the top 10 countries globally for social media statistics on consumer adoption growth and network usage. Investors and businesses recognize these trends and have responded by shifting from old-style retail to modern-day online retail stores. In the last few years, online retail sales have blown up as the eCommerce market has taken over by storm. It should be noted that the consumers in Thailand are very price sensitive and would spend time hunting for deals and savings.

Fintech The Thai government as well as the local entrepreneurs have made several concerted efforts in lending their resources for setting up business in Thailand. For instance, The Thailand 4.0 project is tasked with establishing the foundation required for large-scale fintech growth. These exertions have paid off leading to increased investment through 2017-2019, and more foreign fintech firms expanding their business in Thailand

Foodtech – Thailand is one of the biggest food exporters and its food industry contributed 23 per cent of its total GDP. There’s a trend for health consciousness and people are paying more attention to innovative ingredients. Since Thailand has ample natural resources and optimal weather conditions for food production, represents a high potential industry for startups in Thailand. However, developing food innovation necessitates large investment which many local Thai entrepreneurs may not afford which offers ample investment opportunities in Thailand for overseas Foodtech companies.

LogisticsTech About 8% of all the funded startups in 2017 were in Logistics technology. This sector is highly concentrated and companies focus predominantly on Thailand’s domestic market. Some of the notable examples are eCommerce and GIZTX. Business analysts believe that the Southeast Asian online market has great potential, given that nations are rushing to develop fifth-generation network infrastructure amid the pandemic as customers shift to online due to lockdowns and avoiding crowded places. This shift in consumer behaviour would generate a lot of opportunities for startups in the logistics tech arena.

E-Payment The speedy development of Thailand’s e-Payment scene has made it an indispensable part of modern life in Thailand, enabling unbounded global commerce and complimenting the rise of the “New Normal” during the pandemic crisis, while setting the framework for Thailand to gradually progress into a “cashless society. This sector isn’t limited to Thailand but focused on the larger Southeast Asian region. E-Payment deserves the support and attention it is receiving in Thailand, providing ease and financial enablement to individuals and a world full of potential business opportunities in Thailand both at national and regional levels.

Finally

The pandemic has taken a toll on the startup ecosystem in Thailand as well. The impact on some of the sectors like travel tech startups was severe with some fading out and others pivoting their business. Despite some of the shortfalls, Thailand is making speedy progress, addressing its structural problems, and developing favourable conditions for innovation. The Thai government along with the private sectors are transforming the Thai startup community exponentially from a hidden gem into one of Asia’s most promising ecosystems.

The startup ecosystem in Thailand is booming. For the last few years, big corporates have shown interest in startups and developed accelerators for driving growth for businesses across different sectors from medical technology to e-commerce. Entrepreneurs and investors are flocking to Thailand to make the most of its strategic location which offers ease of doing business, lively community of startups, well-connected transportation links, and digital businesses, together with all the necessary infrastructure for setting up business in Thailand.

Do you have a plan of starting a business in Thailand? With the help of startup consulting services, you can get a quick overview on how to start a business in Thailand and what kind of business suits you best, the business and work visas requirements you would need, and dealing with company registrations, etc. Get ready to explore Thailand’s startup ecosystem! 

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Andy Aditya

As Business Startup Specialist, Andy is often hired as a Virtual Director/Consultant to assist Business Owners in Thailand. For total business information and consulting for doing business in Thailand - Pls check - startupinthailand.com

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