Thailand is world-renowned for many reasons, but Thailand’s tech sector is not one of them. But why not?
Participants and observers would agree that the local startup scene pales in insignificance with some regional centers, namely Singapore, Indonesia; and there is noticeably less emphasis on promoting Computer Science to students when compared to Vietnam.
Yes, there are hurdles to starting a business here that nearly all expat entrepreneurs have struggled with, but with the right advice and guidance they can mostly be mitigated by leveraging incentives from Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) or private agencies.
“Thailent” hard at work
I drafted this about 2 weeks ago. Since then two things happened that further cemented the necessity for this cause in my mind:
- There was a sponsored article in one of the most popular publications in the country espousing the need to nurture Thailand’s Tech industry, but by outsourcing the development work and importing technology from overseas.
- I watched the opening speech by Oranuch (mimee) L. the Co-Founder and CEO of Techsauce at their 2023 Global Summit where she shared a similar goal to make Thailand a Digital Gateway in the next 3-5 years.
These are some of the reasons I believe Thailand can become (or already is) a regional hub for Tech:
- The new gen: we are constantly amazed with the homegrown talent unearthed in Thailand. Vincent coined the term “Thailent” to describe the hardworking, outgoing and committed career-focused and talented Thai members of our team.
- Attractive destination: Covid was tough going for most of the world, but lockdowns aside, it was a relative paradise here, and still is. The resounding feedback from long-term expats (especially those who have lived in several other countries) is: why would you want to be anywhere else?
- Unlimited international talent pool: building on the point above, there are thousands of people every year who fall in love with this place and want to make a life here. With the ease of granting work permits and visas for BOI supported businesses, you can draw from a near unlimited global talent pool.
- Lower taxes and living costs: it seems bizarre, but compared to my native Australia, you can earn half (or less) money in Thailand and experience a much higher quality of life depending on your personal circumstances.
- Active business and social scene: Bangkok is one of those cities that attracts interesting and creative folk from all over the world and all walks of life, which leads to exciting opportunities and great friendships.
- Regional hub: Thanks to the thriving tourism industry, Thailand is connected to, well, basically everywhere, making it the perfect place for meetings, events, and basing company headquarters or remote tech teams.
So, what do these points have to do with the Thailand’s tech sector? Thailand is an underground Tech Hub already. The elephant in the room is of course Agoda, with 2,000+ global employees based right here in Bangkok.
There are a number of Tech startups and scaleups with major operations here, names like Lazada, Shopee, and Grab. In the greater ecosystem, there are a plethora of Thai and Foreign-led agencies mostly centered in regional hubs like Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai.
Of course, not everyone can pack up everything and shift their whole life here, and nor should you. There are organisations out there that exist to bridge this gap.
K. Chalita & K. Kunut from our team leading a panel discussion along with K. Jirachai from Microsoft
Everyone’s motives for getting into the Thailand Tech Scene are different, i.e. in the case of my business partner, Vincent, he channeled years of frustration dealing with horror stories when outsourcing tech projects to certain well-known locations such as:
- Completely misaligned expectations;
- Lack of adherence to deadlines;
- Never being able to get a straight answer.
Those frustrations combined with a global pandemic made it seem like the perfect time to launch a business in a completely foreign land. Fast forward 3 years and we’ve built arguably one of the fastest growing and continuously improving IT Solutions Providers in the country, and potentially the region. And we aren’t alone, there are a lot of great companies with unique value propositions creating top-quality digital solutions that exceeds global standards.
But where do we go from here? Up! But how do we get there?
Solutions – Thailand’s tech sector
There are a lot of regular, active events and communities, such as the monthly UX/UI Happy Hours, ThaiPy, La French Tech Bangkok, as well as global events like Techsauce, and tech-heavy networking groups such as Asia Pillars – Bangkok – Business Networking Events for C-Levels run by Alexandre Lorent Guerra. Thailand is also the perfect location for growing international events like Captains of Industry from Belgium.
Techsauce Global Summit 2023
What I believe is missing is a more unified approach, where corporations work together with the government to improve home-grown tech talent, and entice more global tech businesses to engage with vendors here in Thailand. There are countless incentives to attract global talent such as SMART and Long-Term Resident Visas from Thailand Board of Investment (BOI), along with incentives to entice businesses from the same organisation.
Conclusion – Thailand’s tech sector
Thailand is known for many things. It has a special place in the hearts and minds of millions. Next time you’re considering a dependable Partner in Tech, consider Thailand as your destination of choice. Let’s work together to add Tech to the long list of attractions in The Kingdom.