Last week in Bangkok MEF hosted MEF Connects Thailand, sponsored by Telenor and supported by Mono Group & TIMWE. Amongst the packed agenda the evening showcased some of the brightest start-ups that are participating in Thailand’s Dtac Accelerate programme.
Here, Andrew Kvalseth, Head of Strategy and Innovation for Dtac introduces us to the startups and explains why such innovation is so important to the growing Thai mobile ecosystem.
A vibrant start-up ecosystem is fundamental to building Thailand’s proposed Digital Economy. Innovation will be the driving force behind Thailand’s efforts to become a digital hub for the ASEAN region and drive Thailand’s competitiveness in the country’s transition to a knowledge economy. With a large and hugely talented young population, Thailand is particularly well-positioned to become an Asian center of groundbreaking new ideas and technologies before long.
However, healthy ecosystems require more than just talent to grow. They also do not grow by themselves. A dynamic tech community and enabling environment for innovation requires input from multiple stakeholders, from universities to government to financiers and the private sector, in order to become a reality.
Mobile internet providers in particular have unique and vital leverage to employ in bringing an ecosystem to life, while contributing to the overall growth of the economy. According to the Thailand Digital Economy White Paper, the expansion of mobile internet stands to increase the Thai GDP by 18.9 billion USD by 2020. With the explosion in smartphone penetration in the region, app developers and mobile internet companies meanwhile find themselves in a state of increasing symbiosis: telcos have the resources to nurture the software developers that in turn drive the expansion of the mobile internet.
Dtac, Telenor’s Thailand business unit, has been working to encourage start-ups for several years through the Accelerate program, which both incubates and accelerates promising Thai startups chosen by competition. From this year’s pool of more than 150 hopeful startups, a new crop of five to ten highly talented young groups of finalists will be chosen to receive an initial investment of 500,000 baht (US$15,300) to 1.5 million baht (US$ 45,900) each, along with close mentoring by outstanding digital entrepreneurs at a 90-day intensive startup bootcamp.
Some examples of incredible participants in the Accelerate program include the finalists from last year. Claim Di, a mobile app for car owners that shortens the auto insurance claim process in case of an accident and eliminates manual claim adjustors. The team already works with fourteen leading insurance companies in Thailand and has seen their valuation increase three times while still in the bootcamp phase; expansions are planned for Malaysia and Romania.
Like Fitbit for your car, Drivebot monitors a car’s health and alerts the owner if there’s engine trouble brewing. The simple device, which plugs into a port under the steering wheel, can save up to ten times the cost of repair; the team has already managed to crowd source three times their funding target via Indiegogo in just six days.
Designed to improve personal financial management for big and little spenders, Piggipo helps manage and track credit card spending and payment due dates from your mobile device. Startup funding came from a local angel investor and already the team is poised to be an exclusive partner of Kasikorn Bank.
Fastinflow is a consumer research platform that allows marketers to get consumer insights within five minutes and provides the analysis of survey samples within one day. The team is already working with fifty brands and agencies.
Demonstrating that everyone has a story to tell, Storylog is a social network where users can share their experiences beyond their immediate friend group with attached media. Followers can then comment, like, and share the stories. The iOS app was launched in January 2015.
Head of Strategy and Innovation
These entrepreneurs had an opportunity to showcase their projects and pitching skills before an international audience of investors, startups, and major industry players at the Telenor-sponsored Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF) Connects Thailand. MEF is a global trade body that champions the development of the mobile ecosystem.
As a corporate citizen of Thailand, dtac is enormously proud to be part of journeys of these talented and diverse Thai startups, and to be able to provide a springboard for their success, and the success of Thailand.