What does it take to launch a startup in Thailand?

Interest was high at a recent startup exhibition in Bangkok, but it is likely that many participants would be hesitant before making the commitment to go in by themselves.

iPrice, an e-commerce startup operating in seven countries in Southeast Asia, conducted a study on the educational background of successful startup founders in Thailand. The results may surprise you.

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What does it take to launch a start-up


When thinking of launching a business in Thailand, Thai people come up with many excuses. Their questions often indicate they doubt their ability to do so.

“How can I create a business without a business background?,” they might ask. “Can I really be successful if I haven’t graduated from a top university?” Or “shouldn’t I pursue a master’s degree before I try to implement my idea for a new business?”

iPrice, an e-commerce startup operating in seven countries in Southeast Asia, conducted a study on the educational background of successful startup founders in Thailand. It provides answers to the questions above and some interesting insights into what it really takes to start a successful business in Thailand.

iPrice studied 33 startups and 66 startup founders in Thailand that have received series A funding and above. Of the 66, fewer than half graduated from what we might call a “top” university.  Thirteen founders graduated from Chulalongkorn University ( including five from Sasin), six from Thammasat University, four from Kasetsart University, three from Bangkok University and two from King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (KMITL).

In addition, 19 did not come from Thailand at all.  These entrepreneurs all studied elsewhere, but found lucrative opportunities in the kingdom.

In terms of area of study, a big group of startup founders (14 people) had computer-related majors, such as computer science, computer engineering, and software engineering, followed by engineering (13), business (9), and economics (7).

The results show that while graduating from a top Thai university has its advantages – more than 40 percent of the founders did so – it is not the determining factor. Nor is a business background essential. As for postgraduate study, only 21 founders, less than a third, held an advanced degree. Obviously, an advanced degree is a desirable qualification, but don’t let the lack of one deter you from exploring the possibility of starting your own business.

The key to founding a startup, it would seem, therefore, is the ability to apply your knowledge to real world problems and to come up with ideas that fulfill the consumer’s needs. If you can do that, it doesn’t really matter much which field of study you come from, or which school you attended, or what degree level you have achieved. You can create a successful startup business.

Note:  Chulalongkorn University graduates were founders of Wongnai, Sanook, Priceza, Think of Living, Adyim and One2Car. In addition, five others pursued a degree at  Sasin, which is a graduate institute of business administration under Chulalongkorn University. There start-ups included Ookbee, Priceza, Paysbuy, 2c2p, Think of Living and Tarad.

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  • ability: a level of skill or intelligence - ความสามารถม กังวลใจ
  • advantages (noun): benefits; good features or qualities that something has - เป็นประโยชน์, เป็นคุณ, เป็นผลดี
  • apply: to make use of something - นำมาใช้
  • background: the type of career, training, or education that someone has had - ประวัติ
  • conduct: to do something in an organised way; to carry out — - ลงมือทำ, ดำเนิน, ปฏิบัติ
  • consumer: someone who buys and uses goods and services - ผู้บริโภค
  • desirable: that it is good to have or that people want to have -
  • deter: to make someone decide not to do something - ขัดขวาง, ยับยั้ง, ป้องกัน
  • determining (adj): deciding; making something happen in a particular way - ซึ่งกำหนดได้
  • doubt (verb): to think that something is probably not true, that it probably won't happen or that it probably does not exist - สงสัย
  • e-commerce (noun): business that is conducted on the Internet - อีคอมเมิร์ซ (การพาณิชย์อิเล็กทรอนิกส์)
  • entrepreneur: someone who starts their own business, especially when this involves risks - นักลงทุนทางการเงิน
  • essential: necessary - ที่จำเป็น
  • excuses (noun): reasons that you give to explain why you have done something bad, or why you have not done something that you should have done - ข้อแก้ตัว, ข้ออ้าง
  • explore: to examine something completely or carefully in order to find out more about it - สำรวจ,ตรวจ
  • factor: a fact or situation which influences the result of something - ปัจจัย
  • field (noun): an area of specialized knowledge that people work, study, teach and do research in - สาขา, วงการ, แวดวง
  • founder (noun): a person who establishes an institution, business, or organisation - ผู้ก่อตั้ง
  • fulfill (verb): to do or have what is required or necessary - ปฏิบัติตามหน้าที่
  • implement: to make something such as an idea, plan, system or law start to work and be used - นำแผนหรือนโยบายมาปฏิบัติ, นำมาใช้
  • in terms of (idiom): regarding; used to show what aspect of a subject you are talking about or how you are thinking about it - เกี่ยวกับ, เกี่ยวข้องกับ
  • indicate: to show that something is true, exists or will happen - แสดง, ทำให้รู้
  • insight: (n) an understanding of what something is like -
  • key: the most important thing - สิ่งที่สำคัญที่สุด
  • lack of: when there is not enough of something - ขาด
  • launch (verb): to start something - เริ่มต้น, เปิดโครงการ, เริ่มทำ
  • level: a position or rank in a scale of size or importance - ระดับ
  • lucrative: earning a lot of money - ที่มีกำไรงาม
  • master’s degree: a university degree that students get if they study for one or two years after their first degree - ปริญญาโท
  • matter: to be important or have an important effect on somebody/something - เป็นเรื่องสำคัญ, มีความหมาย
  • obviously: clearly - เห็นได้ชัด, อย่างชัดแจ้ง
  • operate: to carry out an activity like running a business - ดำเนินการ
  • opportunity (noun): a chance to do something, or a situation in which it is easy for you to do something - โอกาส
  • postgraduate (adj): of a person who already holds a first degree and who is doing advanced study or research; a graduate student - หลังได้รับปริญญาแล้ว
  • provide: to cause something to exist or be available - ให้
  • pursue: to try to achieve something - ดำเนินตาม, พยายามเพื่อให้ได้มาซึ่ง
  • qualification: reaching the standard necessary to do a job or take part in the final rounds of a competition - คุณสมบัติที่กำหนดไว้, การเข้ารอบสุดท้าย
  • series A funding (noun): the first round of fund raising from outside investors to start a new company, usually after funding for research and product development has been completed -
  • startup (noun): a company that is just beginning to operate - บริษัทใหม่
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