Looking Back – Echelon Ignite Thailand
Echelon Ignite is over. Two days of keynotes, panels, workshops and pitches. What we are left with is an impressive growth, not only in attendance – full house, additional seating was needed – but in investment interest, Startup quality and internationalization. Let’s take a step back. November 2012. Same place. Echelon Ignite Thailand, first instalment About 250 people met back then to discuss Bangkok’s Startup Community. We mostly saw locals, and some Singaporeans of course but that was about it. That doesn’t mean the quality was low, there was just no exposure yet – people just did not know about Bangkok’s Startup Community.
That certainly has changed. Dtac, True and AIS have stepped up their game and the Geeks on the Plane have been here. Khailee Ng is now a frequent guest in Bangkok and Japanese Investors were plentiful present.
Echelon kicked off with Ray Chang of 9Gag who emphasized that passion, hard work and data driven decision making can get you pretty far – even if you lack intelligence. Later on Willix Halim picked up on the data topic and showed some interesting facts how Freelancer is managing to achieve hyper growth through analysing data. The following panel on Startup myths around Agoda’s Timothy Hughes shed light on smart money, when to go into incubators and the importance of founder goals. As always there is one mantra – think regional! At least! And: Ad revenue in Thailand is not going make your business sustainable.
All in all there are endless opportunities in Thailand and bringing proven business models into the country is one of the easier things to do, however as Jakob Lykkegaard Pedersen mentioned adaptation is the key, not copying. When is your Startup ready for investment picked somewhat up on these topics, in terms funder goals, opportunities. Khailee Ng gave an energetic talk on the founder’s inner game and emphasized of setting challenging goals, which can help founders direct themselves towards the ups and downs of a Startup life.
Some things have not changed yet though: Payment Solutions being one of them. Low credit card adoption makes it particularly difficult to advance e-commerce. It’s holding growth back and the companies/ Startups that will solve this problem most elegantly might have a bright future ahead. Related to this topic was Tiwa York’s keynote on the differences in Bangkok and the rest of Thailand. Great differences between the rural and urban areas, such as language, make SEO, marketing and growth in general difficult. Habits are different and need to be addressed.
The second day was full of workshops and the private pitch which was won by Avalable a dating-game app founded by Nikki Assavathorn who had previously founded MeetNLunch a dating service. Before heading to the after party at Gossip the investor round-table with local and international investors such as Global Brain, B Dash Ventures, Ardent Capital, 500 Startups, True Incube, CyberAgent Ventures, Softbank Ventures Korea and others shed light on what businesses each investor is looking for and was a great initiator for the time that was provided for the networking afterwards, which eventually was carried over to Gossip.