Thai startups see funding sharply rising in 2020

Thai startups are feeling bullish about 2020 as entrepreneurs have attracted more funding during the first two months of this year than during the first six months of 2019, as tech investors are taking a new look at the country and its potential.

Thai startups have reported that they have attracted over $50 million in funding during January and February this year. The actual figure is probably higher as some new firms have said they have signed deals and received funding but not disclosed the amounts.

For instance, last month, bonds startup Peerpower raised an undisclosed amount in pre-Series A funding from Invent, the venture capital arm of Intouch Holdings. Peerpower’s founder Vorapon Ponvanit said the deal took about six months to close after talks with around ten to 15 investors before landing on InVent.

While the amounts have been relatively modest compared to those in some other countries, that does not mean that Thailand has a shortage of talented and driven entrepreneurs and tech innovators.

Paul Srivorakul, the co-founder of e-commerce logistics provider aCommerce, said many large Thai corporations prefer building their own digital operations instead of seeking collaborations with startups.

“Startups tend to underestimate the aggressiveness of traditional companies to digitally transform in order to protect their core business,” Srivorakul said. “Some firms acquire startups to do this, but in Thailand, many firms would rather build [digital transformations] themselves.”

Large companies such as True Corporation and Kasikorn Bank have devoted significant resources to creating in-house digital operations. True has created True Digital Group, while Kasikorn Bank has invested in the Kasikorn Technology Group. Those firms and others have been funding and incubating independent startups, but have kept the bulk of their resources in-house.

Since 2013 aCommerce has raised over $100 million. Some analysts believe it is the most well-funded startup in Thailand.

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