For startups, SMEs, help is here if needed

An energetic  discussion titled “Startups and SMEs Scale Up for Next-generation Business”, hosted recently by Prinn Panitchapakdi of the Democrat Party’s economic team, was a chance to brainstorm, share experiences good and bad, network, scale up your business through technology and learn how to be more competitive.

Jurin Laksanavisit, Commerce Minister and leader of Democrat Party

Jurin Laksanavirsit, Commerce Minister and head of the Democrat Party, opened the proceedings by pointing out the uniqueness of Thai culture. Thais are hospitable, service-minded and creative, he said, paving the way to business opportunities that can stimulate the overall economy and expand the workforce, but these days much depends on them developing their own technologies and platforms and pushing for an “economy of speed”. He said his ministry is focusing on training courses to educate entrepreneurs and exporters about technology-based modernisation, e-commerce and the creative economy.  It’s promoting “smart groceries” upcountry and connecting SMEs across the nation to explore oversea markets.


Ease of doing business in Thailand is a top priority, he said, and the ministry worked with the Department of Business Development to shorten the online corporate registration process from 4.5 days to 2.5 days. They are also amending legislation to help startups that require specific business and intellectual-property laws in place so they can turn copyrights into tangible shares for capital mobilisation through venture capital and crowdfunding.

Prinn said events with various interesting topics would be held every Tuesday morning at Democrat headquarters. This one had a slew of guys making interesting observations.

Prinn Panitchapakdi of the Democrat Party's head economic team


Bhurit Bhirombhakdi, chairman of Singh Ventures, said his corporate venture capital unit of Singha Corp works with ventures and startups that complement the group’s business. He urged new entrants to the field to adopt a sound mindset and business model and have patience as they wait for success to ensue.


Thanapong Na Ranong, managing director of Beacon Venture Capital, an investment arm under Kbank supporting technological innovations in startups and venture capital funds, said the main intent is to support Kbank’s financial products and services and improve processes. His advice included rapid self-adjustment, determination and constant attention to adding value.


Aukrit Unahalekhaka, co-founder and CEO of Ricult AgriTech Thailand, a venture-backed social enterprise that uses machine learning and satellite imagery to help farmers increase productivity, said its efforts make the agricultural value chain in developing countries more efficient, provides access to affordable loans, and lifts small-scale farmers out of poverty.


Somsak Boonkham was there from Local Alike, a travel social enterprise that offers a wide range community-based tourism. It develops community-based tourism by working with corporations and host communities, helps create tour programmes that take travellers to communities for authentic and meaningful experiences, and maintains a fund from its own contributions and those of host communities that improves the latter’s standards of living.


Kwek Hong Sin of the Sinwattana Crowdfunding Platform said entrepreneurs with fresh ideas need a solid funding plan, viable products and clear marketing channels. They should learn from their rivals and adapt swiftly to market changes.

Sinwattana is a crowdfunding portal authorised by the Securities Exchange Commission and recently secured Bt18.6 million for Harrison Butcher from 77 retail investors. It is currently handling a bid by Vietnamese-food restaurant chain Siam Namneung to raise Bt18 million for two new branches.


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