Thousands cram Startup Thailand meet to see new ideas


5 startup9

More than 36,000 investors, entrepreneurs and curious members of the public crammed a Bangkok convention center last week for a look at the latest innovations from developers at the government-organized Startup Thailand 2016 as executives called for measures to support a stronger eco-system for startups in the Kingdom.

Minister of Science and Technology Pichet Durongkaveroj said the event had succeeded beyond expectations, and the ministry will begin expanding more startup exhibitions to other parts of the country. He urged all ministries to cooperate with education institutes and encourage the next generation to take advantage of startup business opportunities to push forward the industry as a key economic driver.

Startup Thailand 2016, held at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center from April 28 to May 1, “ aims to provide an opportunity for all stakeholders in the startup eco-system to join, share and interconnect their future business endeavors,” its organizers wrote. Among its objectives are to promote, support and inspire new potential startups in expanding business and building new markets with potential for high growth.

Most of the entrepreneurs who rented booths to showcase their ideas were under 30 years old, but many of the thousands of visitors each day were civil servants interested in learning more about the startup landscape and how innovations might further the development of e-government.

Some of the more interesting exhibitors were profiled by The Nation newspaper, such as ABorrow, an app that compares loan rates from different financial institutions so borrowers can shop without long and wide searches online or on the street. The app’s developer makes money from charging a fee to the financial institutions that succeed in making deals with its users.

An app called Drivebot uses a smartphone to monitor the health of a vehicle, monitoring engine performance, battery life and everything in between.

Santabox company aims to supply market research to small and medium-sized businesses that can’t afford to conduct their own. It has already assembled a database from surveying 10,000 consumers. Samples are delivered to target groups and their feedback is displayed, allowing the producers to adjust their products before actually putting them on the market.

A banker at the fair noted that Thais have plenty of ideas, but the national ecosystem is yet to be more supportive.

The Thai government recently initiated a $568 million fund to support startup, with half the money devoted to technology startups. Some entrepreneurs said the government should take care to only fund startups with sound business models so that the money would not be wasted.

Dave McClure, founder of 500 Startup, urged the government to spend the money through accelerator schemes created by companies to screen the best ideas from startups.

Other participants called on the government to make regulatory changes to support the ecosystem, and improve education so that students are encouraged to be more creative and innovative.