Google launches Thai boot camp for startups

untitled-2Thailand’s startup ecosystem got a huge infusion of support last week when the local unit of United States-based global technology leader Google launched its “Start-up Bootcamp” to plug budding Thai tech companies into a network of expert and advanced assistance that should accelerate innovation in the Kingdom.

“Google believes in the potential of start-ups. We, in fact, started there,” said Google Thailand Country Head Ben King, adding that he believes the startup ecosystem in Thailand presents huge opportunities because Thailand is underinvested when compared with its potential.

“We believe in the potential of emerging start-ups in Thailand to disrupt conventional industries, open new market segments, and drive massive growth. With your creative mindset, you identify opportunities and unmet needs,” King said.

As part of the unveiling ceremony, Google announced that two local startups, Wongnai and Skootar, had joined its boot camp and would receive support from Google’s network of engineers, product experts, executives and successful startups in other countries.

Google’s announcement coincided with news from Thailand-based 500 TukTuks, a startup micro funder, that it had added 10 new local startups to its stable of promising young tech companies.

Google’s plan fit perfectly into the Thai government’s Thailand 4.0 policy, a national undertaking to transform Thailand’s economy and society into one based on innovation, creativity and advanced and green technologies over the next 20 years.

The objective is ambitious and will require collaboration and partnerships with the private sector, both domestic and international.

The Thai digital economy has been valued at $37 billion, according to The Nation newspaper, and is expected to grow six-fold over the coming decade as e-commerce, online media and the online travel business takes off.

King said the factors that create potential for tech development in Thailand include its 42 million internet users, which is expected to grow to 59 million in three years, and the fact that it has the second-fastest internet speed in Southeast Asia after Singapore.

Google has been taking a three-pronged approach in its response to opportunities in Thailand and the region, King said. First, the company is expanding its regional base in Singapore with new facilities and its Google Launchpad Accelerator will connect Thailand’s start-ups with start-up founders outside Thailand, aside from its network of expert help. The company has also launched a scale platform to help businesses grow.

King reiterated that Google was committed to nurturing startups because “Google was a start-up. We did not forget where we started and how we worked to identify problems and solve them through technology.”