At Echelon Singapore 2012, Asia’s biggest competition for start-up businesses, it was an unlikely winner – a small Thai company called Builk – who took first prize, beating out 250 competitors from around the region, including from such tech-savvy countries as Japan,Taiwan and Singapore.
The only start-up from Thailand to compete, Builk developed a Web service for the construction industry, registering more than 4,400 users from 1,400 construction firms in a short time span. After this major coup, founder Patai Padungtin reported that offers from venture capitalists flooded in, with some 40 VCs offering to invest.
Builk’s win was all the more remarkable as Thailand is not known as a fertile breeding ground for internationally acclaimed tech stars. Not to suggest that the Internet and mobile revolution have bypassed Thailand. Bangkok was recently named Facebook capital of the world, with as many as 9 million users. When location-based mobile app Foursquare first gained popularity in 2010, a wine bar in Bangkok quickly popped up as the third most checked-in place on the planet. Thailand is also considered a leader in the online gaming arena, with one of Southeast Asia’s most active communities.
The Land of Smiles certainly boasts success stories in other industry segments. A prime example from the food sector is Red Bull, whose visionary founder Chaleo Yoovidhya created a highly successful international business selling energy drinks. Red Bull now dominates the world energy-drink market with an estimated 40-per-cent market share.