Investment is learning “InVent” to grow along with startups
In the startup circle, Invent – a joint venture of Intouch Holding Plc is considered among the top Corporate Venture Capital (CVC) of the industry.
Over six years since its inception in 2012, Invent has already invested in 13 startups, with more than 400 million baht value of investment. Aside from business gains, the company also learns about innovation and new technologies from startups.
Mr. Tawan Booyawat, Business Development Manager of Intouch Holding Plc, said about Invent is already a technology investment company. It views that Thai people has good potential to invent new things but still need of financial support and consultation in doing businesses. This is the opportunity for Invent as a CVC to help startups start thier businesses, which also benefits the businesses of Intouch as well as benefits for the overall country’s economy such as employment and tax for the government.
InVent mostly focuses its investment in telecom, media and technology sectors by allocating an annual investment budget worth 200 million baht and invest in every stage of the businesses, starting from seed upto Series A to D. Minimum investment is 10 million baht with the duration of 3-5 years or depending on the business environment of stage of investment.
At present, it has already invested in 13 startups which include
- Ookbee: eBook platform
- Computerlogy: marketing platform on social media
- Meditech Solution: technology to help in communication with paralysis patients by using Eye Tracking System
- Infinity Levels: game application developer, registered in Singapore
- Sinoze: “Thapster” mobile game developer
- Playbasis: Gamification platform
- Golfdigg: platform for golf course reservation
- Shop Spot: online shopping platform
- Wongnai: restaurant review plafform
- Social Nation: virtual advertising distribution platform
- Digio: developer of credit card payment on mobile
- Event POP: platform for event management
- Shopback: online shopping platform
Most of them were setup and developed by Thai startups, except for Social Nation which started their business in Silicon Valley and Infinity Levels which registered in Singapore. And two of these, Computerlogy and Shop Spot have already existed.
“We think we are still new in the startup industry. However, our objectives of investment are to inspire ‘learning’ within the organization as much as possible. That’s why we’ve made direct investment rather than diversify our investment in the fund.”
The principle of investment of InVent are that startup must become a part of Intouch’s businesses as a long-term partnership, must have innovation and creativity, and be able to work as a team because startup is also a business although it might be a small business in the initial stage. They also think of how to grow the business in a sustainable manner, how to manage people, administration, marketing and sales, and all essential elements of running a business.
Aside from providing fund, InVent also provide business consultuation and work closely with startup to help them do the businesses and grow together.
“Startups don’t have to stick to just one investor. It depends of the stage of the business which varies from infancy stage, to production, marketing, or business expansion. Each stage of development requires different needs. For example, they may need financial support at the early stage of business development but when they want to expand they businesses, they might look for investors who need to reach mutual benefits. So startups should rather look at the overview benefits for the businesses and select the most useful options available for them.”
Mr. Tawit also voiced his opinion that ecosystem in Thailand is currently huge and strong, with financial support from private and public sectors to help startps. Most corporates also understand more about startups. the business disruption as a result of innovation has made corporate realize that they have to work more with startups.
Meanwhile, startups are sprouting up but they are not quite innovative and creative. They tend to do the same things at the same time. For example, when Fintech and services trends boom, they just follow the trend and become very competitive. In the end, they couldn’t survive and finally gone. So, startups should try to differentiate, analyze until they have new business ideas, do not follow the trend and they should look at long-term and foresee the needs in the future.
“Thai startups have good potential, efficient human resources and support. We are able to compete with international players. The key thing is they have to do continuously, must work together with various sectors, support more startups to be new gen of business people. We should also back up them towards success not just in Thailand but in global markets too. With more success cases, it will inspire others to do as well.”
Mr. Tawan Booyawat, Business Development Manager of Intouch Holding Plc