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During Q1 2015, there were 436 investments for a total amount of US $9.4 Billion in Asia-Pacific.

  • For Q1 2015, some of the findings include:
  • E-Commerce & Marketplace captured 53% of the investments in value.
  • Out of the 11 biggest funds launched, 4 have been set-up by a corporation.
  • 9 out of the 10 biggest deals have been done in China.
  • 67% more deals have been done in India than in China.
  • The 10 most active VCs have closed 29% of the deals.

 

Some other very cool presentations by Arnaud Bonzom here: http://www.slideshare.net/arnaudbonzom/

This article on financing might also be useful: 3 new ways to finance your company in Thailand, Thai VC SME

Also be sure to checkout our interviews with venture capitalists in the region.

 

 

Sheet 3

As a side note there seem to be very little funding in Thailand compared to the region. This may be because the notable VC’s in the country seem to be more interested in building their own applications and businesses.

Sheet 2

Public Financing – Thailand SEC to Allow Foreign Firms to list on SET

Thailand’s securities and exchange commission said on Thursday April 9th 2015 that it will allow foreign firms to launch initial public offerings (IPOs) in the country and list on the Stock Exchange of Thailand, effective immediately.

This is a growing trend for Thailand to establish itself as a center of fundraising for companies in neighboring countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam as well as in the Chinese southwestern province of Yunnan.

Private Equity Financing – 500 Startups Launches in Country

There are other fundraising trends of positive note in Thailand. 500 Tuk Tuks – the local branch of 500 Startups has formally launched in the country. Moo Natavudh Pungcharoenpong, founder of Ookbee, is a venture partner and Krating Poonpol who is also a notable tech leader in the country is another venture partner.

Private Debt Financing

The Thai Credit Gaurantee Corp is now making it easier for local Small Market Enterprises (SME’s) to attract debt from banks. Currently it is difficult it is to secure even a small loan from bank for business (despite financial history and size of business) without collateral. This program aims to make the process easier.
http://www.nationmultimedia.com/business/Thai-Credit-Guarantee-Corp-to-focus-on-SMEs-30252640.html

Checkout our interviews with different venture capitalists in the region in our archives.

http://siamstartup.com/category/podcast/

 

infinitylevels

picture credit to E27.co

 

Thailand-based gaming studio Infinity Levels Studio has raised US$500,000 from InVent, the venture arm of Thai firm Intouch Holdings PCL.

Ranch Run is being made available in four markets: Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Malaysia.In total, the iOS game app has generated more than 45,000 downloads, with most of the user base coming in from Thailand.

ranchrun

picture credit to E27.co

The game app will be made available globally in January 2015, alongside an Android launch.

Speaking to SiamStartup, Nikki Assavathorn, Co-founder and CEO, Infinity Levels Studio, said that:

We are very excited to have InVent as our investor as we believe they can help provide a business synergy with AIS, which now has 40 million users.  The INTOUCH partnership with Singtel could also accelerate our growth in the region.  We are currently looking to recruit more programmers and artists.

A venture-capital fund worth 25 billion Baht (roughly USD$ 757M)  will be set up to invest in SMEs with high potential in Thailand. The cabinet has already approved establishment of the SME fund and the first 500 million baht likely will be injected into it in February.

Finance Minister Sommai Phasee said: The fund will invest between 5% and 50% of the registered capital for firms in agriculture, industry, technology and value-added innovations. He said SMEs contributed to more than one-third of the country’s GDP, so the government wanted to provide capital to support their expansion.

TH_SG-235x300

Because financing is so rare, this has prompted many Thai companies to first to set up a parent company, or holding company in Hong Kong or Singapore. Popular with foreigners, this also helps protect IP and establish common law jurisdiction for contract disputes and shareholder disputes in addition to venture capital.

Huge news as the Government of Thailand has agreed to set up a venture capital fund to help fund SME’s. As over 90% of the businesses in Thailand are small and medium sized enterprises (SME’s) – this should provide much needed capital in a country which previously had very few investment sources.

Banks traditionally do not loan out capital to any foreign owned enterprises. Also there is some collateral which is almost always provided in the form of a Chanote title. It is unheard of for financing against inventory however. If I am incorrect or you know of alternative funding sources in Thailand, please leave a comment below.

 

Here are the currently active VC firms in Thailand in the context of articles we have written:

$757M is a significant amount of capital for a country which has had stagnated GDP growth over the past few years.

It will be very interesting to see:

1. Who manages this fund?

2. How are allocations made?

3.  What are typical investment sizes or capital injections?

4. What are the terms of the investments?

5. If/when the government expects a return and at what ROI?

6. What is the horizon on this fund?

7. What legal entity is set up to manage this fund, and how do they become a shareholder in the portfolio company?

If anyone has information regarding the aforementioned VC fund – please get in touch and I will update this page.

 

thailand-flag

A presentation on the BOI criteria for the next 8 years was recently released on their website.

Here is a quick summary of changes/details:

  • The big winner is “knowledge based activities, with a focus on R&D and Design” – I suspect we shall see many applicants in this category
  • Zones have been done away with – but there are now SEZ – special economic zones, notably in the south.
  • Corporate income tax incentives are available for many different types of industries. The standard length is 8 years with other options to extend.
  • Import duties can be eliminated or alleviated if your project meets certain criteria.
  • The projects will only need a minimum of 1M Baht investment, which is a great sign and clears up misunderstanding where some people misunderstood guidelines.
  • There is an additional clause about hiring foreign workers, if done for a knowledge intensive position that has A1 incentives, minimum spending must be 1.5M per year on salaries.

Other Things of Note: {updated after BOI meeting}

  • agriculture and digital sector and crossovers between the two are highly attractive projects
  • the government is aiming to create a situation where innovation can also be used domestically, as a benefit to Thailand
  • Headquarters is still an attractive remedy for tax and work permit
  • the government is looking to have electronic 90 day checkins
  • The Bank of Thailand may be helping with Foreign exchange (FOREX).
  • ministry of comerce has promised to reduce time needed for liscense for BOI companies
  • Almost any country can claim a HQ if the HQ owns at least 25% of that subsidiary
  • The emphasis is now placed on type of location more than region – as regions are abolished
  • There are now incentives for “clusters” in the poorest 20 provinces in GDP per captia, the min. investment threshold for businesses in these areas is 500k baht and other additional incentives are provided
  • Software companies get 5 year tax exemption + an additional 3 years are possible
  • There was constant talk of cleaning up all corruption, and aims to be globally competitive

There is still a rather intensive process to obtaining a BOI license in Thailand. We are experts at obtaining that license and helping you create the business plan and get it into the right hands at the board of investment.

Please view the infographic below for full details on the process, and drop your information in the form below to receive more information.

Ready to Get Started?

Take a look at the infographic below that outlines all the steps in BOI company formation. As you can see, there are many individual steps to take, but don’t worry because we’ll walk you through it. If you’re ready to begin the journey and form your own Thai BOI company please fill in the form at the bottom of the page so we can start getting to work setting up your company.

Board of investment Infographic - Thailand BOI

Are You Interested in Setting Up a BOI Company in Thailand? We can Help!

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BOI approves “Seven-Year Investment Strategy” Special investment incentives offered for SMEs

The Board of Investment (BOI) has approved its “Seven-Year Investment Strategy” (2015-2021), with a focus on promoting investments that create value for Thailand and those that have a positive impact on society and the environment. Measures were also approved to upgrade Thai SMEs’ capability.
Mrs. Hirunya Suchinai, acting secretary general of the Thailand Board of Investment (BOI), revealed after the BOI Board meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, that the Board approved the Seven-Year Investment Strategy (2015-2021). The vision of the new strategy is to promote inbound value-added investments and Thai investments overseas to enhance the country’s competitiveness and overcome the so-called middle-income trap.

The new investment promotion policy will give priority to investments that are beneficial to and supportive of the country’s overall development strategy. These industries include high-tech and creative industries, service industries that support the development of a digital economy, and industries that utilize local resources. The BOI zoning system will be abolished under the new policy, although investment projects located in 20 lower-income provinces, as well as projects in industrial estates, will be offered special incentives.keep-calm-and-celebrate-7-years-7
The list of eligible activities still includes most activities which are significant to the supply chain and have the potential to be strengthened. In addition, the number of such activities has not been significantly reduced, as there are still more than 200. Corporate income tax privileges will be granted to 180 of them and the rest will receive non-tax incentives along with exemption on import duties on machinery and raw materials used for export products. The list of eligible activities will be announced on the BOI website said Mrs. Hirunya.

Eligible business activities are divided into two groups. Group A includes those that are important to support national economic restructuring. BOI offers corporate income tax exemption to encourage more investment and to enhance the country’s competitiveness. Group B consists of activities that do not employ high technology, but still are important to the value chain. BOI will offer non-tax incentives, as well as tax privileges related to machinery and raw materials.
The new policy will be effective for applications submitted from January 1, 2015.
Advantages for 38 SME activities

According to Mrs. Hirunya, the Board meeting also agreed on a policy to enhance SME capacity building in order to strengthen their competitiveness at the international level. 38 eligible activities from the Seven-Year Investment Strategy will be selected for SMEs to receive incentives. The measure will offer an additional two-year corporate income tax exemption to enhance their competitiveness and encourage investment. This policy will be effective from January 1, 2015 – December 31, 2017.

Special border areas investment promotion

Mrs. Hirunya added that the Board also agreed with the policy to promote investment in special border areas. Investment projects located in the five special economic development zones will receive an additional three-year corporate income tax exemption on top of basic incentives. These special zones include areas within the five provinces of Tak, Trad, Sa Kaeo, Songkhla and Mukdahan.

 

===END RELEASE===

The developing countries, like Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan, and Burma are still rising, but that does not make them the potential markets for many types of business. These developing countries are providing many online and offline businesses opportunity to emerge and grow. Though, there are many mistruths about operating businesses in those countries. Here are the mistruths:

  1. The Emerging Countries are just the BRICS

Emerging-Economies-Map

BRICS are Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. To clarify, not just those five countries that are considered as emerging countries. Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Pakistan, and many more are also emerging countries. Basically, emerging markets are those that have a strong growth of middle class, economic performance, high technology, good healthcare and education. As a result, these countries are experiencing business boom.

  1. Only big businesses are successful in emerging countries

Emerging-City-Skyscrapper

Which is not true at all! Many small businesses have made their way to the top, especially in the SME country like Thailand. To give you some example of a small and successful business, we will use a coffee shop business as example. Coffee shop business is very popular in Thailand, we do see Starbucks in almost every shopping malls in Thailand. However, the local brand called Coffee Beans by DAO, which is a lot smaller than Starbucks, is very successful.

  1. Internet penetration is too low for online growth

Emerging-Economy

This is totally untrue! In Thailand, a lot of people change their smartphones more often than in other developed countries. As a result, internet is used by the Thais on their smartphones more and more every day. Due to this smartphone trend in Thailand, many internet businesses want to operate in Thailand, for example HotelQuickly and Lamudi. Many international internet websites that are operating in Thailand, for instance, Zalora and Craigslist. The internet usage is widely used in most of the developing countries. Even in Laos, 4G internet was available before those developed markets.

  1. Emerging markets are very uncertain

Quezon-City-Map

Uncertainty is in every market, not just the emerging markets! In fact, these emerging markets do provide more investment and growth opportunities. For instance, a joint report done by Land Institute and PwC, “Emerging trends in Real Estate Asia Pacific 2014,” has shown that Manila city is ranked in the top five cities in Asia Pacific region for real estate investment.

  1. It is all hype

Emerging-City-Skyline

These gradually buoyant economies are offering a high level of opportunity for businesses, either big, medium, or small. Today, the underdeveloped countries become more developed in terms of economies, therefore, businesses have motive to be enthusiastic.

UPDATE Dec 4. In a deal that blows the previous deal out of the water, GrabTaxi raised another $250,000,000 Series D round, just one month after the previous round of funding. The time between fundraising rounds is almost unprecedented, which makes me believe the previous round was reported some time after the ink was dry. The grand total on fundraising is US$340 million raised over the last 14 months. The latest round was fully invested by Softbank. This is more great news after Uber was declared illegal by one Thai official. Good luck GrabTaxi – your investors are watching!

 

In what is one of the largest rounds in South East Asia to date, GrabTaxi has raised $65,000,000 in a series C round from new investor Tiger Global, with participation from existing investors Vertex Ventures, GGV and Chinese travel giant Qunar. Another new investor, Hillhouse Capital, joined in on the round.

Grab Taxi is active in cities in Thailand, Vietnam, Maylasia (HQ), Indonesia and Singapore. Coming just a few weeks after the announcement of a massive round of investment into Ardent Capital and aCommerce, this 65M Round is yet another very strong signal that funding in South East Asia has reached a critical mass.

Investors from outside the region are starting to take notice of the massive opportunity are taking the region very seriously. This is a reason any entrepreneurs should also be taking the region seriously, and consider setting up a company here.

Who are the Investors?

GGV also known as Granite Global Ventures during it’s founding years starting in 2000 is a VC firm focused on expansion stage investments in the US and Asia. They invest primarily in nternet/Digital Media, Cloud/SaaS, and Mobile sectors in the U.S. and China. Since inception, the firm has raised $2.2 billion of investor commitments across five funds. Notable investments include Athena Health, Pandora, Square and Alibaba.

Vertex Venture Holdings Ltd (Vertex Group) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Temasek Holdings, which is a very important Singapore investment company,that was Incorporated in 1974. Supported by 11 offices globally, Temasek owns a S$223 billion portfolio as of 31 March 2014. Vertex focused on privately held technology companies, and is a very active investor form the series A onwards.

Hillhouse Capital Group was founded in 2005 and according to their website, is a fundamental equities investment firm focused on the long, long-term. Led by Key Executives: Ms. Jing Hong who is the managing Director of Hillhouse Tiancheng Advisory and Mr. Lei Zhang  who is the Chairman, their office is at Floor 28, Building B, PingAn International Financial Center, No. 1-3 Xinyuan South Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing,  100027 Very notable, because we are seeing Chinese investment in the Region in a massive way.

Tiger Capital has its offices in Singapore at 14 Robinson Road #13-00 Far East Finance Building. Listed on their website is Mr. Henry Yu, Vice-President with the Email: [email protected]

Qunar is a publicly traded travel company based in China. However, like many Chinese companies, they use offshore companies to take on investment. Qunar Cayman Islands limited trades on the NASDAQ stock exchange as QUNR. CEO, Chenchao “CC” Zhuang has a very interesting interview here on how he built one of the largest travel sites in China.  You can also check out our investor interviews with other VC’s here.

Maybe you are a digital nomad just getting started in the region?
Check out the programs we have at Iglu to legally get a work permit and visa set up.
View the infographics and startup your own company in Thailand. We can help.
Maybe you are looking to hire western talent for outsourced prices? Check out Iglu.in.Th
Dynamite Circle Thailand

Dynamite Circle ThailandDigital Nomads took to the interwebs two days ago to “live-blog” their experiences at a Chiang Mai co-working space. Immigration officials, along with police and military personnel, raided PunSpace catching a lot of these digital nomads working on their internet businesses. The laws in Thailand are often fuzzy and while no one at PunSpace went to jail or got deported, it’s best to know what the law actually state to protect yourself.

In this article, I’ll give you a better idea about what digital nomads should be doing to stay legal while in Thailand and how many of them could make more money by running their businesses legally. I’ll use the income report from the travel blogger who first reported the immigration raid at Punspace, show how he is in violation of Thai law and how he would have less headaches and make more money by running his business legally. Of course these laws apply to all digital nomads working in Thailand, but I think it’s helpful to use real numbers.

Working on the Internet is Illegal in Thailand?

The travel blogger reporting from Punspace moved to Thailand a few years ago, living from his savings and odd jobs. About a year ago he got into the drop-shipping business and now makes around $7,000 USD per month. Since he spends most of his time in Thailand, he is subject to Thai tax law. This is the case even though he’s here on a Tourist VISA and has to leave the country every 3-to-6 months.

According to the Revenue Department of Thailand’s Website:

Taxpayers are classified into “resident” and “non-resident.” “Resident” means any person residing in Thailand for a period or periods aggregating more than 180 days in any tax (calendar) year. A resident of Thailand is liable to pay tax on income from sources in Thailand as well as on the portion of income from foreign sources that is brought into Thailand.

Since the blogger has been in the country for more than 180 days this year, he’s liable for taxes paid to the Thai government. The department that raided PunSpace yesterday was the Immigration Bureau, but since it’s the Board of Labor that would be concerned with his work status and the Revenue Department that would be concerned with his taxes, it’s unlikely he’ll ever be called out for his current work arrangement. But what if he were? Or what about the headache of VISA runs?

Let’s do some quick math. In his current situation, on a Tourist VISA, the best option would be to get a multiple entry Tourist VISA before entering Thailand. He could then stay for 60 days and go to immigration to get a 30-day extension for 90 days total. At that point he’d need to cross a border to activate his second entry. A trip to Mae Sai in Chiang Rai province would be the easiest and cheapest. He’d then repeat the same steps and after six months in Thailand, he’d need to visit a consulate outside Thailand to get a new VISA. An estimate of this trip would be about $300 for transportation and accommodation, but since that’s negligible I’ve left it off the report below. Of course if he were on a Business VISA he wouldn’t pay for any of this and wouldn’t need to waste all this time.

Now, what about the taxes? Since the blogger is an American citizen and I assume he’s operating as a sole-proprietor, he’ll be paying 15.3% to the US in self employment tax. He’s exempt from state and federal tax so long as he doesn’t stay in the US for more than 35 days per year. However, if he was to get tax residency in Thailand, he could stay in the US for 180 days per year without incurring a tax liability.

Below is a graph with different income levels. The Bloggers income, as reported on his website, someone making 2,000/month and someone making 17,000/month.

As you can see, The blogger would make $4,000 more per year by setting up a British Virgin Islands (BVI) company to invoice his products and working from the IGLU offices. He wouldn’t have to leave Thailand on VISA runs, though he could leave any time he wanted to travel.

If you’re unable to view the document above, click here to view it on Google Docs.

What is IGLU?

The details can be found on their website, iglu.in.th, but the basic idea is this: IGLU is a Board of Investment approved company that acts much like a co-working space. They arrange for a Business VISA and work permit allowing you to run your business legally from Thailand. They invoice your clients, keep 30% of the revenue for taxes, office space and back office support. They pay you the remaining 70% to a Thailand bank account.

The one caveat is, you need to have a background in some tech, design, management or marketing field. Working with IGLU isn’t like buying milk, it’s not available to everyone, but the staff are friendly and will work with you to get your documents in order.

As for the British Virgin Islands setup mentioned in the spreadsheet, you can find out more about that here: British Virgin Islands Company Formation. It doesn’t have to be a British Virgin Islands company, there are other options, but the staff at IGLU will advise based on your specific circumstances.

Working In Thailand on a Tourist VISA

If you get nothing else from this article, get this: what your buddy says, what ThaiVisa forum says, what anyone says is unofficial EXCEPT for the Thai Government, and the department, bureau or section in charge of enforcing that area of law. Find the official information on their website or consult with a lawyer.

There are only a couple legal options for staying in Thailand:

  • Thai Citizenship (requires several years in Thailand with a work permit and tax records)
  • Permanent Residency (requires several years in Thailand with a work permit and tax records)
  • Non-Immigrant B VISA
  • Non-Immigrant O VISA (marriage, retirement)
  • Non-Immigrant ED VISA
  • Tourist VISA

The bottom two options, according to the Department of Employment, are not allowed to work while in Thailand. How can you escape all this worry? It’s very simple. Instead of ignoring the legal and financial aspects of your business, or the laws where you live, pay attention and work within the system. It’s not that bad, once you get the paperwork right.

A Note About PunSpace

PunSpace is a great place and Thailand Immigration has said they did nothing wrong—it was just a misunderstanding of their business model that triggered the visit. PunSpace has also given affected members a free month to compensate for the interruption.

Ardent capital

Ardent Capital, the venture capital firm that aims to develop and unite Southeast Asia’s fragmented ecommerce market, announced it closed a US$12.7 million investment led by Sinarmas, a major Indonesian conglomerate.

Adrian Vanzyl the CEO of Ardent told us that the Ardent team will use the funding to:

…Open an Indonesian office, and hire 20 staff for our Labs business there. They will create new companies in-house, all in the e-commerce sector—to continue building companies in Thailand, including ongoing funding of our family of vertical commerce businesses under www.whatsnew.asia. We will primarily focus on building companies in house, but will also invest in third party companies that fit our strategic vision around e-commerce.

Sinarmas’s telecom carrier, Smartfren is likely to be a collaborator down the road. Mr Vanzyl also has said that…

Sinarmas has a large local carrier, with over 30 million active subscribers, most of which are on smartphones. Everything we do touches on consumers at some end. So if we can get a mobile partner that can get our product directly in front of their 30 million subscribers—whether in the form of an app download or a marketing campaign.

It’s a very intelligent strategy and works as an analogy to what their child company aCommerce has been doing with Line in Thailand.

Through a strategic partnership with Line, aCommerce can run flash sales (Line is a very popular messaging app in Thailand, Japan and other Asian countries). Flash sales via mobile are a uniquely Asian innovation. One comparison might be the WeChat platform in China—flash sales on mobile messaging platforms make perfect sense in Asia as more consumers have phones and tablets. In many developing nations, it’s far more common for a consumer to own and use a smartphone than a computer. As a virtually ubiquitous app in Thailand, Line presents companies wishing to reach consumers with an incredible opportunity.

Line mobile app

Indonesia – the Sleeping Giant

Indonesia, with a population of over 250 million, has been a tough nut to crack for startups branching out through the region. Many startups have struggled to expand into new markets, and aCommerce is actually providing a lot of the infrastructure to be able to do so.

From a macro perspective, Indonesia presents the largest market in Southeast Asia. However, for many startups the expansion into Indonesia is not always intuitive. There are payment issues (highly fragmented) and a large percentage of the population has not yet come online. However, the trend of people coming online is inevitable. Cell phone penetration in Indonesia is high, and smart phone penetration will continue to grow.

Persons interested in applying for a job at the Indonesian headquarters can contact [email protected]

Strong Leadership Across Companies

aCommerce (an ardent company) is led by serial entrepreneur Paul Srivorakul (click for our interview) and another excellent member of the team is Indonesian Edo Henry who acts as CFO/financial controller.

The Indonesian team will be led by Hadi Wenas, who is CEO at aCommerce Indonesia and formerly of Zalora (a rocket internet company).

aCommerce – The Amazon of SE Asia?

Many people have compared aCommerce to Amazon. aCommerce centralizes management of back-end logistics for ecommerce firms including warehousing, shipment logistics, order processing, payment processing, and marketing. aCommerce does not rely on Ardent funds and raised a $10.7m Series A investment round lead by Inspire Ventures, Sinarmas, Sumitomo, NTT Docomo, AsiaPacificDigital, and CyberAgent Ventures.

Ardent capital

Ardent companies are able to leverage on the infrastructure created by aCommerce, aiming to eliminate the fragmentation and create an economy of scale.

Labs companies are able to leverage the aCommerce logistics and procurement, and introduce existing brands to the ASEAN market.

Other Ardent Labs Companies under Whatsnew.asia

  • PicoCandy, a service for making custom chat stickers.
  • e27.co, a popular news site and jobsite. e27 Echelon is the premier startup event in Thailand. It’s headed by Mohan Belani, and the team competes directly with TechinAsia.
  • Sanoga.com is Thailand’s largest online health store.
  • Venbi.com offers a diverse selection of parenting products such as diapers, formula, food, accessories, gear, and other essentials that are often burdensome for busy parents to purchase or carry home.
  • Petloft.com, an ecommerce site for everything your pet could need.