True creates Digital Park to support startups
Telecom giant True Corp, innovation-driven business, has formulated the “Four I’s” strategy to help technology startups facilitate future leadership.
Dr Theerapol Thanomsakyut, chief of innovation and sustainability, True Corp, shared his vision for creating the various components needed for a working startup ecosystem. True’s strategy is to be a part of creating that ecosystem.
True’s plan is to create complete startups under the “Four “I’s” philosophy – Inspire, Innovate, Incubate and Invest.
True started by creating a space to inspire startups –the True Digital Park project on 77,000 square metres or about ten football pitches. The site offers a co-working space, office space, an innovation centre, conference and seminar room, and business mentoring service. True Digital Park will open its first phase of operations at the end of 2018.
“Why people liked to work in co-working spaces, and why they couldn’t work at home. The reason was that sitting in the space caused people to exchange knowledge, network and offer each other moral support. People with the same interests can come together to share experiences and help each other.”
Going forward, if you don’t know where to find thinkers to develop innovations, come to the True Digital Park and sit in the co-working space, and you will find many innovators sitting there. You can exchange ideas, and the second “I” of innovation will happen, said Dr Theerapol.
Once the innovation has been obtained, True has an incubation program focusing on groups of students in cooperation with universities to create 100 startups. True is giving scholarships at this stage worth 200,000 baht each.
At the professional level, True has organised a program of training and has selected five startups to tour five countries: Thailand, China, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia, so that the startups can see regional markets.
“We want them to know that their idea is not just good for Thailand. They can expand overseas.”
Thailand can be a startup hub for CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) countries immediately as it is the best-equipped country in the region, Dr Theerapol believes.
“The heart of a startup is to expand overseas. The business might be born in Thailand, but that does not mean that the first market must be Thailand. Once set up, we must think about which market to begin. Some startups start in the European market. However, we know where the headwaters are. The water can flow in many directions, but in the end, they reach the same end, which is the world market. Therefore, we must think of models which will expand worldwide,” Dr Theerapol said.
After incubation, True operating as a VC, will invest in startups with potential, starting with 1-2 million baht per company during the first phase. “We will consider the further investment for growth together. True will invest in every series and will not specify a budget or investment framework. However, we will emphasise a win-win strategy for startups to come into being and grow, to help extend True’s overall business,” Dr Theerapol said.