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An insatiable appetite for entrepreneurial success

Jul 25. 2012
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Chutima Pruangmethangkul's appetite for success is endless. The eldest daughter of a family that distributes liquor and cigarettes in the western part of Bangkok has mastered the skills of establishing a business, as well as buying and selling businesses



Since quitting her job as an employee two years ago, the 29-year-old former marketing and public relations officer and Human Capital Club manager at APM Group has set up a number of small businesses.

However, unlike many other entrepreneurs, who only know the setting-up part, Chutima has also learned how to build up a business with a view to selling it later.

“I like to search for new things. But it isn’t just the money that I’m looking for,” she said.

Chutima tries to learn from every business she has undertaken, using the experience gained to make the next move an even better one. She said her first entrepreneurial venture – the Cafe de l’Amour coffee shop in Sathorn – had taught her a precious lesson, namely, that opening and running the operation was more valuable than the income actually generated, and indeed than the future income she could have generated if she had not decided to sell up.

After running Cafe de l’Amour for nearly a year, a French entrepreneur happened to hit upon the small coffee shop and liked its logo, name and concept. As a result, he made a “seven-digit” offer to Chutima. “I was so tired, because I was also still working at a company. And at that time, the business had already reached break even,” she said.

More important, Chutima said she decided to sell her first business venture because she had come to realise that she would be able to build up another business anytime. From that one experience, she soon built up and then sold a few businesses, including a massage and spa shop in Siam Square, for quick profit.

Last month, Chutima started her latest enterprise, the Nail Library, at Siam Square Soi 6 with two good friends, Voravisa Potranun and Duangkamol Ngampoonsuk.

She had noticed that most small nail shops in Siam Square were often crowded with customers. Furthermore, one of her partners had experience that was directly related to the beauty salon business.

“But it’s not just [a matter of] her experience. Habits, mind and heart, and trust come before the experience” of the partners, she said.

Unlike other nail salons, which mostly have a “girlie” look, Chutima said Nail Library had been specially designed to cater to both male and female customers. Thanks to its location next to the Novotel hotel and Siamkit Tower, the shop also attracts many foreign customers, as well as mothers who come to wait for their children to finish tutoring classes at Siamkit.

Chutima has also signed up for prime space at Siam Square One, a new high-rise development in Bangkok’s most vibrant and upscale shopping district, to open a new-concept Thai noodle restaurant, called Fu-ne, late next year. The restaurant will be situated adjacent to MK Restaurants.

Chutima said that now her parents were getting older, she knew that as the eldest daughter it would not be long before she would have to take their positions in the family’s enterprises.

“I want success before I’m 30. [And by that I mean] these businesses that I have set up, can run by themselves, and that I can then go to help my parents’ businesses,” she said.

Nonetheless, Chutima’s real passion has always been to open a restaurant that serves alcoholic drinks, which would complement her parents’ businesses.

She has a master’s degree in gastronomy from Boston University in the US, where she also received a diploma in hospitality and tourism management, and a culinary arts certificate. She also has a bartending-class certificate from Harvard University.

After her graduation, Chutima worked as a management trainee at the Boston Marriott’s food and beverage division, and at the Hilton hotel’s front-office operations in the city for a total of one year, before flying back to Bangkok.

Despite being a daughter in a wealthy family, Chutima said she had never lost her drive for success since her father, who started from humble beginnings as an ice-cream seller at cinemas, taught her always to fight to achieve her aspirations.

“I usually look at people who are very successful and learn from their best [points]. Some people may be content to compare themselves to average or underperforming cases and feel satisfied with that. I’m always looking to achieve something better than that [benchmarking myself against the best performers],” she said.

With her attitude, we’re likely |to see many more business ven-tures coming from Chutima Pruangmethangkul.

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