Thailand signifies one of the most favorable opportunities for entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia. It is the second largest economy in the region and has the most business-friendly policies in the world. Thailand’s startup as well as Thai business scene is still very promising and you can see activities from only angel investors and VCs focusing on seed stage. As the investment and startup scenes in Southeast Asia are heating up, the angel investor is popping up throughout the region and many domestic as well as foreign entrepreneurs starting business in Thailand.
There is a lot of scope and room for angel investment in Thailand to grow as high-wealth individuals are becoming more familiar with and are building relationships with the emerging startup companies and entrepreneurs. Many of the investments which are made by angels are as co-investors trusting on early-stage funds as the lead investors in the round.
Some of the most renowned angel investors in Thailand:
Serial businessperson Paul Srivorakul, who established and left Admax and Ensogo, born in Thailand, he has lived in Singapore and Philippines and was raised in the United States. After completing his graduation from UC Berkley, he began his career working in a sales position with Ask.com in the year 2000; it was his first dip into the world of internet business.
On a trip to Thailand along with his brother, he acknowledged abundant opportunity in the country. He then decided to quit his job at Ask.com and he moved to Thailand. His other two elder brothers also followed him shortly. He went through 3 months of training at Dreamweaver and Flash, and with his brother, John Srivorakul, he founded Impaq Interactive, a web development outsourcing firm.
Within a years’ time, Impaq raised from two individual to a team of twenty people. Impaq also began to endeavor into online advertising and it became an authorized ad reseller for Microsoft in Thailand. Under Impaq, the income from Microsoft’s advertising from MSN and Hotmail in Thailand raised from $100,000 to $2.5 million in a year. His know-how and experience of a reseller with Microsoft made him believe that Impaq might also assist other publishers with ad inventories.
With a bright and decent team running and managing Admax, Paul and his brothers started Ensogo, in 2010 which is a coupon discount site. The brothers together scaled in $200,000 to jumpstart the business in Thailand. When Ensogo started, Paul expected 500 orders a month. But in some way it ended up with more than 1,000 orders on the very first day and soon revenue was doubling month on month. One of the most amazing things which Paul mentioned was that while doing business in Thailand they were in a position to ascertain the amount of money they would be making for every marketing dollar spent.
Apparently, the Srivorakul brothers’ 9 years of understanding and indulgence in media and advertising have equipped them with the essential skill to catalyze Ensogo’s growth. There has been a big confusion in the minds of many people about Ensogo being a group which is involved in buying the business. It’s not. Whereas, Ensogo is more of a coupon discount site which does not require users group to crowd together before triggering the acquisition.
Growth was so decent that investors were bashing the doors of Ensogo. Lastly, Ensogo went with Rebate Networks, Berlin-based daily deal expert which had invested $2 million. Paul was asked to spend the investment within 5 months as a land-grab strategy. Profit was not significant as market share and growth were the main aims, and it did pay off. In the month of June 2011, U.S-based LivingSocial acquired Ensogo.
Amarit Charoenphan is a serial event’s entrepreneur & organizer and also a renowned startup ecosystem builder. Before starting HUBBA, Thailand’s first startup coworking space and PAH Creative Space, Thailand’s first creative & design coworking space, he was working with a management consulting company and ran a social initiative incubator for a non-profit. He is aggressively constructing the Thai startup community as the co-founder of the Thai Tech Startup Association, with the help of workshops and events like Echelon Ignite Thailand. He was also the Thailand Country Host for Geeks on A Plane Southeast Asia tour. For more than two years now, he has organized more than 200 events and has also attended events and workshops more than the same amount.
He has also been working on his own startup, and he also loves in volunteering as a Global Facilitator and Startup Weekend Organizer and other entrepreneur mentoring events, judges in competitions and speakers in classes. He is based out of Bangkok but calls Southeast Asia home. In his extra time, he enjoys scuba diving and loves to visit diverse coworking spaces across the globe.
Hubba is Thailand’s first co-working space for innovators, entrepreneurs, and creative professionals, providing business opportunities in Thailand. Hubba was formed in August 2012 and arose as the key hub of startup activity in the country.
Apart from being a CEO of Ookbee, e-book store startup, Moo Natavudh is a dynamic angel investor. Ever since 2013, Natavudh has financed eight startups, which includes Jbtalents, a job portal and Noonswoon, a matchmaking app.
His criterion is simple; he believes that a company should have a product, a good team and well-researched business plan with some traction. Opening a business in Thailand or anywhere else requires such simple and effective strategy.
He initially started the angel investment expedition while mentoring other startups. He preached that there is an urgent need of increased number of angel investors in Thailand while observing all of these investors may face certain problems such as nonexistence of instruments such as stock option pools and convertible notes.
For the record, Ookbee acquired few startups in which Natavudh invested in. Moreover, Ookbee also invested in several other startups such as Taamkru.
It is believed, Natavudh is going to invest in other three startups. It is also on known that he has been working on something which will raise his angel investment exertions to a higher level.
Tiwa is presently a Head Coach of a web development company, Kaidee.com. Prior to this, he was the Managing Director of an eCommerce website Sanook Online Ltd. He has also served as Director of Platforms at Omnicon Media Group and also as a Managing Director for Admax Network.
Jakob Lykkegaard Pedersen
Jakob is the CEO of Thailands’ largest mobile game developer, Pocket PlayLab, additionally he is an investor and also mentors several startups. Prior to this, he was a co-founder at a social marketing platform, Pagemodo.com, which was acquired in 2011 by Webs Inc.
The Hong Kong mobile gaming house, Playlab is responsible for Juice Cubes which has obtained $5 million in Series B funding from Monk’s Hill Ventures, a Southeast Asian venture capital firm. The funds so secured would be utilized in driving Playlab, which has studios in the Philippines and Thailand with distribution at Singapore, to head Southeast Asia’s marketplace in the mobile gaming arena, establishing its operations throughout the region.
With the acquisition last year of Anino Games, a Manila-based game developer, Playlab is going to continue to focus on growing its presence in the Southeast Asia region. The rapidly rising mobile entertainment company has seen its staff being rising from 20 to more than 100 in a year or so to maintain with the demands of game development. It is expected that the operations of the company in Thailand are going to grow further with local and global publishers, becoming a go-to partner in Southeast Asia.
Poramate is the creator of Kapook, Thailand’s most prevalent portal site and has been an essential part of the startup community in Bangkok. Poramate is a philanthropist and has formed Thaiflood.com had provided valuable and useful info to concerned citizens during Thai Floods in 2011.
Tom is the CEO and an instituting partner of Inspire, Tom is in charge of implementing Inspire’s ASEAN financing strategies which include venture, private as well as public capital markets. Prior to this, he was a partner at Indochina Capital and was working as a fund manager and also a property maker in the Indochina region.
Adrian is a technologist and an early stage investor in the digital media space. He expended his ten years while working with Blumberg Capital in San Francisco, CTO of LookSmart and CTO of Sausage Software.
Jay is the founder and chairman at The VC Group (The Venture Catalyst Group) which is a group of corporations which concentrates on building solutions and products to connect and link people to the Internet. Before founding The Venture Catalyst Group, Jay was working with True Corporation as an executive.
Pawoot (Pom) Pongvitayapanu
Pom is the forefather and Managing Director at TARAD.com which is an eCommerce portal which was acquired in 2009 by Rakuten. Pom is also the President of Thai eCommerce Association which is a consultant and advisor to the Thai Webmaster Association.
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