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What new firms can get from big corporations supporting |innovation

Apr 30. 2017
SOMPOAT CHANSOMBOON
SOMPOAT CHANSOMBOON
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By SOMPOAT CHANSOMBOON
SPECIAL TO THE NATION

MERGERS and acquisitions might be this year's big theme, but for innovative corporates, supporting start-ups might be the answer.

Big corporations are gearing towards becoming innovative, rather than operating in the traditional ways. They have suddenly realised that for their brands to survive and be recognised by the next generations, they will need to revolutionise.

However, it is difficult for big corporates suddenly to turn around and become innovative with the limited resources they have on hand. This is where collaborations with start-ups in their segments come in the picture.

For this collaboration to happen, they must understand that this must be a win-win situation, where both the start-ups and the corporates benefit. They must first be able to understand their own strengths, and then do enough research to find out which start-ups would benefit from those strengths while at the same time benefiting the larger company.

For example, at dtac Accelerate, we are clear about our strengths under Total Access Communication. With 214 million customers worldwide (under the Telenor group), we take pride in promising high distribution. This scale of leverage can be considered an enormous growth opportunity for early-stage start-ups. Public relations and marketing are much easier with the DTAC team supporting them.

Simultaneously, big corporates with a strong vision will definitely benefit from this collaboration. Using DTAC as an example again, we do our best to seek for services that would benefit our customers as much as possible.

With our partnership with "TakeMeTour", one of our start-up alumni in dtac Accelerate, we are able to provide a free local trip for foreigners purchasing a tourist SIM card from DTAC. If our customers enjoyed their free trip, they might buy another trip from TakeMeTour. TakeMeTour gets to deliver free advertising to their target customers. It's a win-win situation.

Big corporates tend to have higher funding than some venture-capital firms (VCs) and are much more flexible. However, the downside of collaborating with big corporates is that - well, they are still big corporates. This means that their operations will still be in the traditional ways.

They will have limitations in the industry they are investing in; for example, banks may prefer start-ups that are financial-technology outfits or money-related. Their turnaround time in investing would be slower, and it would take them longer than VCs to get their investments approved.

This trend is definitely catching on among many big players. It is amazing to see companies in industries we would never expect joining in, such as energy or construction firms, becoming extremely proactive in the start-up community.

The future of Thai start-ups is just beginning, and we are excited to see what other innovations can be made. With more start-ups emerging, and more big corporates backing them up, Thailand is heading towards something beautiful.

SOMPOAT CHANSOMBOON is director of the dtac Accelerate, a |division of Total Access Communication.

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