Thailand, and its capital city Bangkok, has long been a business hub for Business Angels. Both domestic and international businesses have thrived in the region over the past decade, making it the second-largest economy in South East Asia.
Part of the appeal for businesses is Thailand’s low cost of living. Good quality commercial properties are available at reasonable prices and the country’s current business regulations encourage entrepreneurship. A strong work ethic and an increasingly educated population further strengthen the case for doing business in Thailand.
The prospect of starting a project or investing in Thailand is appealing to many people, both local and foreign. However, unless you are already well established in the country, securing finance for a startup can be difficult. Most banks are reluctant to lend capital unless a property or pre-established business can be placed as collateral.
A history of entrepreneurship does exist within Thailand, but is often based around the tight-knit family structure. Small family businesses are the most common source of employment and investment is usually inward with capital shared between friends and family.
So without a foot in the door, it is difficult for an outsider to penetrate the golden Thai marketplace. One way is to seek assistance from an ‘Angel Investor’ or ‘Venture Capitalist’ who can invest up to USD 500K in startups that range from the early stage of prototype building to introduction of the new products or services to the market.
Foreign Angel Investors Operating in Thailand
In the past, capital investment has mostly come from other southeast Asian nations, namely; Singapore, Hong Kong, or Japan, and their investments have been focused around the tech industry. Using techniques and expertise adopted from their own nation’s successes, these investments usually return a profit. Here we look at some of the best South East Asian Angel Investors operating in Thailand.
The Japanese Investor firm CyberAgent Ventures is a Venture Capitalist firm investing in Internet start-ups. They claim to have capital upwards of 100,000,000 Yen (around 34.5 million baht) and have eight offices located around Asia. Their CEO Soichi Tajima describes them as “a venture capital company that specializes in Internet businesses.” Beyond just investing, they claim to “aggressively help maximize the value of outstanding and emerging Internet services.” Despite being based in Japan, CyberAgent Ventures would certainly be a valuable partner for anyone starting an online business in Thailand.
Another option if you are looking for investment to come from outside of Thailand, would be Singaporean based DMP Investments. Operating across South Asia, these Venture Capitalists have gained a strong reputation in the region.
A brief summary of the DMP website states “We are a venture capital firm focused on emerging markets that have recently joined the global digital transformation process. Specifically, we look at the development of the consumer internet and its supporting infrastructure.” With successful investments such as 2C2P, Grain, Medical Departures, and Coda Pay to their name, DMP is the best choice for, particularly unique ideas.
Set return and/or equity are negotiated with the company upon contact.
A second choice from Singapore Angel Investors would be Explara. Established in 2000. In their words “Expara provides both investment and services to the enterprise ecosystem.” This Business Angel Investor is favorable as its focus is less narrow than some of its competitors. Their investments are much more diverse. Furthermore, Explara is one of the few venture capital firms that also offer training and mentoring to its customers.
A final positive for those based in Thailand is that Explara has an office in Bangkok, whilst their CEO is a Visiting Professor in Entrepreneurship for the Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. Suggesting a strong knowledge of the local economy.
The widely renowned, American based venture capitalist group Angel Investors have also recently ventured into Bangkok. They hope to “bring investors to new markets, across the US and around the globe” and are an excellent source for connecting would-be investors with new start-ups.
Thai Angel Investors and Venture Capitalists
If you are Thai and want to work with a compatriot, or if you would like an investor with more intimate knowledge of the local economy, there is an emerging group of successful Thai Angel Investment groups. Here we look at the best and analyze which would be best suited to particular markets.
Alpha Founders is a Thai Investment company using European funds to “address major local problems”. Based on the Rama 4 road in central Bangkok, their projects focus on mid-stage projects run by local entrepreneurs. Examples of their previous successes include; Rabbit Internet, ITM Technologies and the eCommerce Lazada.
Alpha Founders have also recently moved into Indonesia and early indications are that they plan to take some of their Thai companies over to the archipelago. Any business with global aspirations that are looking for an Angel Investor could certainly benefit from Alpha Founders’ aspirations.
Set return and/or equity are negotiated with the company upon contact.
The VC Group website mission states its aims as “to build products that make work and life more fulfilling and productive.” They aim to do this across four domains (TECH); technology, education, content, and health.
Skills the VC Group specialize in include:
- Embedded Systems
- Cloud Computing Programmes
- Application Development
- Real-Time Data Processing
- Multimedia Streaming
A good example of these skills and arguably The VC Group’s most successful venture is Penta; a mother company encompassing a wide range of subgroups such as Penta TV, a Wi-Fi set-top box that consolidates live broadcast TV channels, online streaming content, and multimedia file playback into one single easy-to-use platform. Penta S (a.k.a. Penta Cloud Client) is a general-purpose platform that combines the capabilities of Android with the services of GNU/Linux into one single device.
The VC Group is based in Bangkok, Thailand, and has offices along the city’s Skytrain route; between BTS Wongwian Yai and BTS Krung Thon Buri.
Investment return rates can be negotiated by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those working in e-commerce, the newly formed Ardent Capital / Wavemaker partnership is a great potential investor.
After a successful five years in which Ardent Capital generated over 3500 jobs in Southeast Asia, and built a portfolio of e-commerce companies worth over US$350M, in July 2016, the company merged its Venture fund into Wavemaker Partners.
Early indications are that this will not affect the successes of the company. Past successes such as HappyFresh (leading regional grocery delivery business), Snapcart (targeted shopper intelligence app), Goxip (fashion discovery platform and Floship (international fulfillment and logistics) are all continuing to operate viably.
For more information on Ardent Capitalists or if you are thinking about working with them, their website holds a fantastic catalog of past presentations to help you gauge the company’s capabilities and their terms for investing.
Founded by the University of Montreal graduate, Mario Hardy, MAP2 is one of the smaller Angel Investment groups on our list.
The company’s reputation lies with its founder, who describes himself as “a man of action and execution.” As they tend to invest in smaller projects than their competitors, MAP2 Ventures is good in that as well as providing seed capital, it also provides management advice, mentorship, and access to a vast network built over a lifetime experience in corporate development.
MAP2 Ventures should be a prime choice for anyone seeking a more hands-on, personal relationship with their investor.
Touch is a well-established Thai firm operating in asset management, telecoms, media, IT, and digital content. In 2012, they set up In Touch, a corporate venture capital project.
Now, In Touch is one of the largest Venture Capitalist firms in the country. Their annual fund size is upwards of seven million dollars and their minimum investment is $150,000, so they are only for serious, large-scale projects.
In order to receive funding, potential companies must pass a six-step process.
2. Due diligence
3. Term Sheet
4. Final due diligence
The lengthy application process is worthwhile, however. With access to over 40 million mobile subscribers in Thailand alone, a global network of companies, and investors, plus many successful long-term partnerships they are undoubtedly one of the strongest players in the market.
Startup in Thailand works with a team of international financial institutions as well as a panel of individual investors residing in Thailand and other countries like USA, Japan, and Singapore to cater to the financial demands that a business needs, in terms of Project Financing and Joint Ventures.
Startup in Thailand also promotes entrepreneurship in Thailand through their BUILD Entrepreneur scheme, wherein they provide venture funding to potential entrepreneurs looking for investment for their dream projects by private investors and money lenders. Startup in Thailand specializes in starting up small and medium businesses across 15 diverse industries.
Is using an Angel Investor a good idea in Thailand?
Thailand has a huge potential for growth and is poised to become the gateway to access startup and angel investors in Southeast Asia.
The World Business Angels Investment Forum (WBAF), an international organization of global angel investors, is working with the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) in Thailand to build a community of angel investors that will financially support local startups and innovators.
In June 2019, Thailand had a reason for optimism in its enterprising economy, as the Thai Government launched the Startup Thailand 2019 Summit at the Bangkok Innovation Corridor. It was a big event with over 500 startups from 25 countries participating through a convergence of potential investors with budding entrepreneurs. Events like these are placing Thailand well and truly on the startup map, as we unveil Bangkok as a tech hub of the future with a promise to reach 10,000 start-ups soon. As per General Prayut Chanocha, that path would be made easier by utilizing a new THB 20 billion ($574 million) government venture fund, as he declared in the 2018 Summit.
Ideas already attributed to this scheme include:
- ABorrow an app that compares loan rates from across the web and high street.
- Skootar, a messenger service aiming to cut through Bangkok’s traffic problems by charging full price for one-way trips, but half price for any item the messenger picks up early.
- Drivebot, a downloadable app that delivers virtual maintenance reports of your car to your phone. It checks everything from the battery life to the levels of oil in the engine.
- Santabox. Finally, this app asks people to fill in a questionnaire on consumer satisfaction. Samples are delivered to target groups allowing businesses to change their products to match their customer’s needs. Some of their surveys have been completed over 10,000 times.
It may be that success stories like that of Agoda have encouraged new waves of Angel Investors to come to Thailand, and, with their help, there are clear signs of progress in Thai enterprising. The number of start-ups in Thailand is expected to increase even further over the next three years and angel investors will remain a prominent factor in their successes.
Interesting Reads :
- How to obtain financing for your business
- Startup Specialists
- Starting a business in Thailand
- Legal Assistance in Thailand
- Thailand Market Entry
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