Thailand may be world-famous for its resplendent beaches and glorious food, but it has also produced a number of young entrepreneurial talents whose passion and innovation have propelled them to dizzying heights. Small wonder for a country with a population of over 67 million, a US$387 billion GDP and an average economic growth of 5% per year. This issue of Top 10 of Asia lists the top 10 most notable young entrepreneurs in Thailand who proved that it is never too early to follow your dreams.
- AitthipatKulapongvanich (Tob) | Tao KaeNoi
AitthipatKulapongvanich, fondly known as Tob, is one of the country’s favourite success stories that inspired a Thai movie, The Billionaire. Although born in a wealthy family, he invested his personal winnings from playing online games and tournament prizes into a fried chestnuts business, which quickly garnered a cult following. When he was 23, he created the famous Tao KaeNoi, a deep fried packaged seaweed snack in a myriad of flavours that became a hit not only in Thailand, but also in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan and the United States.
- Moo Natavudh | President Director Founder of Ookbee
Moo Natavudh is the founder of Ookbee, a leading digital book and magazine platform with presence in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam. The platform was developed by IT WORKS, a software company that also belongs to Natavudh. To date, Ookbee serves more than five million users with 10,000 new users every day. The company distributes over 500 ebook and magazine titles regionally, which is supported by their turnkey solutions that include authoring tools, payment gateways and reporting capabilities. In line with his appetite for high stakes, Natavudh is also an angel investor and has invested in multiple startups including Noonswoon, a matchmaking app and Jbtalents, a job portal.
- Lee AyuChuepa | AkhaAma Coffee
One fine day, a social worker named Lee AyuChuepa was thinking of an effective way to improve the lives of his community when he realised that coffee was the answer to his burning question. Coffee, which is a stable commodity, is organically grown right in his Akha tribal village, and it made perfect sense to commercialise this quality product. The AkhaAma Coffee company was then established, and forms a platform for the social entrepreneur to work closely with the Akha farmers and bringing the international award-winning fair-trade coffee to coffee connoisseurs everywhere.
- VorravitSiripark | Founder & CEO at Puri Company Limited
Seeing the vast potential in the luxury spa and skincare industry, VorravitSiripark utilised his international business management experience in the likes of the Gucci Group and Yoox.com to establish his own high-end spa and aromatherapy brand, Panpuri. In addition to producing natural Eastern-based skincare and spa products, he also offers OEM product customisation services via Puri Alchemy. The multi-talented Siripark is a strategist at heart, perfectly capable of executing various aspects of Panpuri including goods management, creative design, marketing and PR while producing consistently amazing results.
- PawootPongvitayapanu (Pom) | MD & Founder Rakuten TARAD.com, CEO &Founder at efrastructureinc
In 1999, PawootPongvitayapanu, or Pom, founded Tarad.com, a B2C e-commerce platform similar to eBay. Tarad, which means market in Thai, quickly shot to popularity and garnered the interest of Japanese e-commerce giant, Rakuten, which acquired some of Pom’s shares in 2009. Pom, who has an MBA as well as a master’s degree in Internet and e-commerce, went on to establish a C2C platform, Thai2hand.com that enables users to run their own online businesses at an affordable cost. He also founded efrastructure, a one-stop shop for all things e-commerce, online branding, marketing and analytics. At present, he is the President of the Thai e-commerce Association and playing a major role in the country’s e-commerce industry.
- EkThongprasert | Curated by EkThongprasert
Known for his highly unique and conceptually strong designs for every day wear, EkThongprasert, started his own label in 2008 when he moved to Antwerp, Belgium. His first designs focused on women’s wear and jewellery before expanding into men’s fashion and accessories. His Curated line, founded in 2009, has retail presence in Thailand and boasts of a cult following, including stylist Elisa Nalin.
- Vincent Sethiwan | Co-founder of Launchpad & Charge Concept Co., Ltd
Though the startup ecosystem is still at its nascent stages in Thailand, one man is determine to help build it instead of waiting for it to grow. That man is Vincent Sethiwan who co-founded Launchpad in 2012, a trendy co-working space in the heart of Bangkok, where startuptechnopreneurs can collaborate with their team members. Sethiwan initially had a hard time convincing his family that this idea would work, but they have since became his internal investors, even allowing him to renovate the old Sethiwan Tower into Launchpad’s present glory. Sethiwan is also the founder of Charged Concept, a development house for iOS and web applications.
- Chef Ton (ThiTidTassanakajohn ) | Restaurant Le Du and Baan
Not long after graduating in Economics and working in the finance industry to please his parents, Thitid“Ton” Tassanakajohn swapped his investment banker’s suit for a chef’s hat and has never looked back since. Trained at the Culinary Institute of America and honed his craft at Michelin-starred Jean-Georges and The Modern in New York, Chef Ton quickly became the toast of town thanks to his unique Thai-inspired cuisine. With four highly-acclaimed fine dining restaurants, Le Du, Baan, Taper and Baagadin under his belt, he is a testament that it is always better to pursue one’s true calling in life.
- AnekKulthaveesup | Labrador
AnekKulthaveesup started Labrador, an eco-friendly leather accessories and stationery company, as a hobby more than a decade ago. A designer at heart, he wanted to produce good quality, environment-friendly and trendy products at local prices. Labrador’s handmade, minimalistic and attractive products took the market by storm and the company broke even within a year. Today, the award-winning company’s products can be found in 20 countries, and has physical retail stores in Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines.
- Opie Lopansri | Founder & CEO of Stamp
Although the loyalty card concept is not new to Thailand, Opie Lopansri thought it could be done better and more efficiently. Upon his return from a work and study stint in the US, he co-founded Stamp in 2011 and launched the application and device a year later. The smart-stamp enables retailers to award loyalty points to customers without using a point-of-sale device; just a simple touch on the smartphone’s screen would suffice. Since its launch, the Stamp app has been downloaded 500,000 times and serves 300 locations. The list of clients include Citibank, Tesco Money as well as its hundreds of partners implementing its Secure Touch technology across Thailand, Hong Kong and Japan.