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500 TukTuks seeks to create quality tech startups

Dec 08. 2015
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By Asina Pornwasin
The Nation

17,711 Viewed

Newly founded venture-capital fund 500 TukTuks is forging ahead with its aim to be the growth engine for a start-up ecosystem in Thailand.
The Kingdom’s total venture-capital fund value in 2015 was expected to rise between US$40 million to US$50 million.
After successfully investing in 10 Thai tech startups in the first three months of its operation, 500 TukTuks announced an increase in its total funds to $12 million. That’s up from $10 million announced at the launch in April. It also aims to be the venture-capital fund to seed $50 million in the next three years.
With its first $12 million, 500 TukTuks plans to invest in 60 to 70 Thai startups through three years, ending in July 2018. It focuses on investing in the early stages of startup, with $100,000 in each startup. 
Natavudh Pungcharoenpong, 500 TukTuks’s fund manager, said it divides total funds into two parts of $6 million each, investing $100,000 in each startup. The second round offers $200,000 for each startup that has survived. It also prepares funds for a bridge round [the connecting investment between first and second rounds] as well. 
“Normally, each round of investment is between 12 and 18 months. We will build Thailand’s startup ecosystem through the investment plan for $100,000 in each startup throughout the three years,” Natavudh said.
Krating Poonpol, 500 TukTuks’s fund manager, said that during the first months of operation, it found many interesting startups that needed funding. 500TukTuks wanted to invest in as many of these potential startups as it could. As a result, it decided to increase the size of the funds by 20 per cent - from $10 million to $12 million. 
“There are more high-quality startups in Thailand and as investors we need to add more money. We will do more source deals for the additional $2 million which is open until the end of July 2016,” said Krating.
Krating added that it planned to launch 500TukTuks#2 in the next three years, with the fund of US$50 million, with the aim to provide venture capital funds for a multistage of investment, from the seed round to the Series A round. 
“At that time, we thought the size of tech startups would be bigger and for 500TukTuks#2,we would eye [beyond] Thailand,” Krating added.
He also insisted that this was the right time and right moment to turn small and medium enterprises (SME) to startup. The startup situation in Thailand was no bubble and it was taking off. 
Natavudh added that SMEs had an advantage in business domain experience and, with their revenues, they could be empowered with technologies to scale their business capability and revenue like startups. 
“We can consult with them and help them transform their business model from SME to startup. Especially, if they are technology-based SMEs, they can adjust their business model to become startups with the ability to rapidly scale their business and revenue,” said Natavudh.
Krating also added that technology was now intruding into every industry, and SMEs in any industry could use technology to expand their operations.
For example, WashBox24, was the case of an SME turning from startup as an ordinary laundry service provider to offer laundry service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It utilises software to track customers orders, take photos of items, and even text customers when it was ready for pickup.
“We help to create quality startups for investors that help the startups ecosystem as a whole,” said Krating.
Krating said Thailand’s total startup venture capital [VC] fund value in 2015 was around $40 million to $50 million. Investment was bigger than the numbers of potential startups at a time when venture capitalists considered they had the capability and potential enough for investing. 
Currently, while there are around 2,000 startups in Thailand, only 100 startups are qualified for fund raising. 
“The startup ecosystem in Thailand needs help to get moving, to make quality startups ready for raising funds. Not only us, 500 TukTuks, but in Thailand we have a lot of stakeholders to help the ecosystem startup, such as telcos, local VC funds, incubation and training programmes. It is the right time for startups,” said Krating.
Early startups
The 10 startup companies in Thailand that received funds through the TukTuks’ first batch of investments.
Omise: A payment gateway designed to make payments easier has just received more funding from the Golden Gate Venture.
Claim Di: A mobile application for claiming insurance which just raised follow-on series A funding for $2 M.
Blisby: An online marketplace for craft and handmade products in Thailand – Etsy of SEA. 
Hubba: The first and the best co-working space in Thailand. 
Wishbeer: The top premium craft beer e-commerce store in Thailand.
Skootar: A platform to find cheaper but more reliable messengers to deliver packages or documents - the winner of dtac Accelerate Batch 3.
FlowAccount: A cloud-based accounting platform for SMBs - the winner of AIS the Startup 2015.
TakeMeTour: An online marketplace that matches travelers with local experts; also one of dtac Accelerate batch 3 finalists. 
Stylhunt: e-commerce fashion platform to find reliable and stylish shops online. 
WashBox24: The laundry dropbox with mobile application to track clothes and notify customers.

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