Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Five startups that help solve problems, improve life

Jul 09. 2017
Polpat Songthamjitti
Polpat Songthamjitti
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The Nation

The Nation has selected five startups that stood out among the more than 300 international and domestic companies at the “Startup Thailand 2017” event held on July 6-7. Ooca, Digio, QD Laser, Ricult and GetLinks (Thailand) offer solutions that can improve quality of life for users in the digital era. 

Ooca, Digio, QD Laser, Ricult and GetLinks (Thailand) offer solutions that can improve quality of life for users in the digital era. Innovation and digital technology services and products at the event covered impressive territory, including FinTech, AgriTech, IndustryTech, and HealthTech.

Ooca.co is a healthtech startup that provides a Webbased platform with high level security, letting users connect directly with a psychiatrist or counselling psychologist through an optimised online video call interface. No more time is wasted on the road or in a waiting room; users can register on the platform, make a appointment to see a psychiatrist or counselling psychologist right away, and choose their preferred visit length. Users can also choose their preferred providers or the platform can even find a match for them. Users can talk anonymously and everything remains confidential. And users will choose which providers may have access to their data. Users could talk with their providers on a video call. If it is necessary for the patient to get a prescription, the provider may recommend continuing the visit at a preferred clinic or hospital.

The platform meets a real need for medical access. Kanpassorn Suriyasangpetch, founder of Ooca, said that there are only 770 psychiatrists in Thailand with more than 50 per cent of them residing in Bangkok. Counselling psychologists are disappearing from society, seeking alternative work. In 2015, 9 million Thais suffered mental health illness, with 40 per cent unable to access help from mental health professionals, or were reluctant to because of possible stigma issues.

Ooca has launched a public closedbeta trial for a couple weeks. Even before the launch it had a waitlist of over 1,400 people registered on its website to access the platform. Ooca can help reduce the backlog of people who need help for depression, anxiety, relationship issue, and child counselling.

Next up is Digio, a fintech startup that provides various fintech services to the market, such as a payment gateway service that enables customers to make full or partial (EPP) instalments via merchant websites. It also provides ewallet solutions and mobile pointofsale and Internet banking solutions that can help customers perform easy online financial transactions from simple money transfers. It can also help with bill payments, estatement inquiries, and event more complicated multi account management.

Nopphorn Danchainam, managing director of Digio said that the firm also provides a unified payment technology provider for financial institutes. Under development is a Digio unified payment platform (DUPP) version 5, which will be the major leap in regional payment systems, expected to support multiple channels and new payment specifications such as contactless iris and QR Code payments. Digio expects the system to be marketed in the fourth quarter of this year. 

Nopphorn added that the firm expects to the triple payment volume in 2016. That year they boasted more than 100,000 merchants and processed Bt20 billion in payments combining ISA, MasterCard, JCB, AliPay and WeChat PAY through bank partners. 

QD Laser is a healthtech startup from Japan. The firm develops the prototype of retinal projection eyewear named Retissa, which is a wearable device. It has an augmented realitytype (AR) head mounted display with a miniature laser projector that draws images directly onto the retina. Images are independent of the wearer’s visual acuity and point of focus. And far from ugly, the device looks like normal glasses.

Kanami Iga, deputy manager of Visual Information Device division at QD Laser, said the firm applies laser technology to healthcare devices. The smart glasses were developed specifically for a medical purpose, hoping to support people with low vision. The firm has submitted their device for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, and expects to be certified in the next couple of year, and then taken to market.

Mobile platform Ricult also caught our eye. Designed for agricultural use, it improves crop production by over 30 per cent.

Aukrit Unahalekhaka, cofounder of Ricult, said the platform leverages data analytics and a proprietary credit worthiness assessment that helps with decisions about affordable credit, highquality farm inputs, agronomy services, and access to end buyers. The desired outcome is improved yields, better quality crop, and higher profitability for farmers.

Ricult is now working with farmers who grow primarily corn in Thailand and Pakistan and hopes to expand to China next year. Ricult is used to help with corn crops on 300 rai (48 hectares) located in Lopburi province. However, the firm will expand to multiple crops including sugar and rice in the near future.

Moreover, the firm will work with the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) to provide this innovation and technology to support farmers nationwide in the next step of their rollout. 

The last technology focus is GetLinks, a resum้ platform with a streamlined process that is as simple as creating an online account, making the service practical and accessible to anyone. 

Polpat Songthamjitti, cofounder of GetLinks (Thailand) said that the platform provides a matchmaking role, connecting digital human resources with developers, designers and digital marketers. They support other startups, and corporates that want to digitally recruit required workers. The firm now has more than 30,000 resources in their database from Thailand and international countries such as Vietnam and Korea.

“Our database accumulates talented developers, designers, and digital marketers interested in working with a startup company,” said Polpat. “On the candidate’s side, because we believe your work should be more than just work, the recruitment process should address your passion and interests as well. So GetLinks does not only match people and companies with skills, but also with passion and interests.”


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