BANGKOK -- Coworking spaces are in vogue all over the world. To be able to own an office for a relatively small sum inside a building located smack in the middle of the city, with great access to pertinent facilities and networking opportunities, is a dream come true for many startups.
True Digital Park President Thanasorn Jaidee
Hence, the success of WeWork.
In Thailand, there’s True Digital Park, which is not only a coworking space, but a builder of the startup ecosystem.
“We are not just building coworking spaces, but building an ecosystem to help Thailand become a hub for startups,” said True Digital Park President Thanasorn Jaidee during an interview with The Korea Herald last week.
Jaidee has an engineering background, having worked in senior positions at companies like Microsoft and SAP as account manager and solution advisor.
True Digital Park is run by True, a telecom company that is one of the largest private companies in Thailand. The entire space consists of three buildings, two of which are allotted as office space. The remaining one offers coworking spaces and communal areas where entrepreneurs can come chat, eat and relax. There also a number of investors and incubators within True Digital Park. Some of the well-known names include Google Campus.
The buildings are owned by another company, but True is the one that gave it the look it has today. And so far, more than 90 percent of the offices have been booked, according to Jaidee.
The beauty of True Digital Park is that it offers a place for people to interact and network, he stressed.
“At the end of the day, we create opportunities for people to interact,” he said. “You can be trained, and get experience in digital startups and technology, because we have partners in tech, venture capital, incubation, education and government.”
One of them is the National Innovation Agency, which is at the fore of Thailand’s startup promotion policies.
This means by joining True Digital Park, members can access these new relationships and connections. To help make the experience complete, there are a lot of mature companies also stationed within the space, to help provide funding or acceleration opportunities.
“When you join our ecosystem, you are not just accessing the desk, Wi-Fi or water. Basically you have a chance to meet people,” said Jaidee.
What it hopes to offer startups is not only an office, but opportunities that would otherwise be next to impossible to secure. For instance, the VC sector is far from mature in Thailand, meaning that foreign investors are a huge source of investment for local startups.
True Digital Park does its best to connect investors with promising startups. They also offer professional legal or accounting advice to fledgling companies that don’t know where to start.
The place also serves as a landing site for inbound startups or investors. “If you want to build a business, here is the place to start,” said Jaidee.
This is all possible because True Digital Park, together with the National Innovation Agency, has created the Bangkok CyberTech District.
The innovation-led district is based in the Punnawithi area of Bangkok, and provides an up-and-coming ecosystem including incentives like work visas for startups based in both Thailand and abroad to become a hub for innovative companies as part of the country’s Thailand ‘4.0 industrial revolution’ initiative.
Overseas startups can also find funding and even living arrangements, because there is a condo behind True Digital Park.
Collaboration with other countries is also possible. Just next month, True Digital Park is scheduled to sign on for startup exchange programs in neighboring countries.
“We hope there can be more unicorns, especially from Thailand, and startups have a chance to access the world,” Jaidee said.
This article was sponsored by The Korea Press Foundation.
By Kim Ji-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)