Bangkok has had an incredible transformation in the past few decades. It has transformed from being a tourist hotspot to a thriving business scene in its own right. In the 2010’s it claimed its spot as the second-best business city in Southeast Asia, and its attractiveness to the business world is only going to increase as its government pledged the spending of $72 billion USD 5 years ago.
The openness to tourists that made the city internationally famous is from the same strain of liberalism that now fuels entrepreneurial creativity, and when entrepreneurial creativity is mentioned, you know that tech start-ups are soon to follow.
Rising Tech Start-ups
Bangkok’s rising tech start-up industry has begun to slowly develop attention over the past 5 years. It’s been driven by socio-economic factors, primarily the rise of middle-class product consumption that has been a consequence of the Thai middle class affording more spending power due to the relative strength of the Baht, as well as the rise of the global middle class. There is also improved internet access, with fibre-optic being very achievable in houses and apartments around Bangkok, not to mention smart-phone use, which has grown considerably since smartphone use overtook regular mobile phone use in late 2012.
A Welcome Challenge
Bangkok’s appeal does not just come from economic attractiveness and market potential, it is appealing to venture capitalists who want to invest in a business that is a bit more of a challenge. They have lower literacy rates, which translates to less competition on the side of the start-up founders, which means that foreign investors are more likely to go with a pre-existing team than set up their own to save money.
There have been increased start-up schemes driven by AIS, DTAC and TRUE, the big telecommunication players and the training and publicity needed for start-ups have started to gain more funding. As a result, internet technology recruitment has also increased, making Bangkok very attractive to expats skilled in IT wanting to find the next step in their career. Companies like RECRUITdee make a living from recruiting the best people for IT and have started to help many more start-ups find employees, on top as medium-sized companies and international giants – a sure-fire sign that the industry is thriving.
All these signs of tech development would be amiss without mentioning some of the success stories that have sprung from Bangkok’s tech revolution. Thailand’s Echelon conference, which is a bit like TechCrunch in San Francisco, has been getting larger every year, with over 1000 attendees and scores of guests discussing and sharing ideas. Some start-ups that were present to describe their success stories were Ookbee, an e-book store that now operates internationally across Southeast Asia.
There was also Builk, which is a social media networking site specifically for the construction industry. Builk was selected as a representative for the 500 Start-up event a few years ago. They shared the belief of the event organisers that the general feeling is Thailand is going to enjoy several multi-million-dollar start-ups in the near future. If you’re a young entrepreneur that wants to make a name for yourself… it looks like Bangkok might be the place to be.