DTAC keen to help startups

DTAC keen to help startups

Goal is for unicorn within 3-5 years

Ms Reich (centre) says Accelerate is key to helping DTAC go beyond connectivity.
Ms Reich (centre) says Accelerate is key to helping DTAC go beyond connectivity.

DTAC Accelerate is introducing the A Academy programme to assist Thai startups getting Series A funding and increase funding size in Southeast Asia, aiming to create a Thai startup unicorn within 3-5 years.

A Techsauce Startup report put investment in Thai startups at US$61 million (1.90 billion baht) in 2018, falling for the first time, from $105 million in 2017 because of a lack of big deals last year. Some 90% of local startups were stuck in Series A round funding, with capital of $1-15 million, unable to scale up to Series B.

The key reasons a big deal did not materialise are investors found other countries are more attractive than Thailand, intense competition from super apps, and the exorbitant cost of customer acquisition.

Sompoat Chansomboon, managing director of DTAC Accelerate, introduced its DTAC batch 7 with the new A Academy to connect over 200 venture capital and corporate venture capital firms in Southeast Asia worth over 10 billion baht.

The DTAC Accelerate portfolio consists of six startups in Series A and 23 startups at seed funding, which is between $20,000 and $50,000.

The A Academy is meant to help these startups reach the Series A round of financing by focusing on preparation for a mega-funding round, connection with customers, and adaptation of advanced technologies, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, to the business.

The A Academy programme aims to boost startup company values to $100 million. One goal is to produce a Thai startup unicorn. This year, investors are interested in healthcare, education, agriculture, real estate, energy, e-commerce, tourism and insurance, said Mr Sompoat.

He said last year 34 Thai startups secured $61 million in funding, of which seven are in DTAC Accelerate, combining for $11 million or 17% of total investment.

The startups include Fastwork, which received the highest valuation for investment from a Series A round of funding, and Ricult, which secured the highest fundraising deal among agricultural tech startups in Asean in the seed stage.

DTAC Accelerate has 46 startups in the programme with a combined valuation of over 5.1 billion baht. The success rate is 70% for its startups receiving follow-up funding worth a total of 870 million baht.

Alexandra Reich, chief executive of DTAC, said DTAC Accelerate helps the company go beyond connectivity and build strong ecosystems that can support 5G sustainability. It claimed success with Scootar messenger delivery and ClaimDi mobile app for car insurance claims.

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