Tech startups have emerged as a new source of innovation for established enterprises in Thailand when the latters search for new business models and products, according to Orapim Luangon, managing partner of Aimspire Co Ltd.
As a consultant specialising in the collaboration between traditional enterprises and startups, Orapim has advised more than 10 corporate clients in their digital transformation journey to meet the challenges of disruptive technologies.
One of the clients is Tipco, a long-established juice and drink company, which has turned to indigenous startups to take on the disruptive challenges.
“We’ve served as a bridge between Tipco and the suitable startups as the former looks for new business models, distribution platforms and even new products.”
“It’s much faster and more effective this way compared to doing it internally via organic growth or in-house efforts. In addition, we can help screen a large number of potential startups that will likely meet the needs of existing businesses |undergoing the transformation process.”
“For established firms, their staff are generally preoccupied with immediate tasks, thus no one really focuses on digital transformation. Even if they do, they may not have the knowhow to succeed due to rapid technological changes, so outside help is better,” she said.
Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) are among the sectors needing expert help in coping with the challenges of disruptive technologies which affect retail and other distribution channels, marketing and other key aspects of their business, including developing new products.
According to Orapim, many Thai enterprises except the largest conglomerates and their affiliates, have found it a big challenge in transforming their businesses in the digital era.
For example, Tipco’s vision is to become a house of brands for food and beverages and it wants to connect directly with consumers in addition to using traditional retail and other distribution channels.
As a result, it has launched Tipco Connext as a new online platform to collaborate with promising tech startups in the food and beverage field to help achieve the company’s objectives.
Tipco also wants to extend into health and wellness in addition to fruit juices and other beverages while collaborating with startups to tap new sales and marketing platforms as well as new product ideas.
“Most innovators need users and funding to grow their startups. They also lack in-depth knowledge of potential users and customers. In other words, startups and established enterprises need each other to be successful in using technology and other solutions to tackle business challenges and solve consumer pain points.”
Another example is a local healthcare startup wanting to provide better care of diabetic patients needing insulin injection at home.
As most patients do not know how to inject insulin, the startup has developed an app to give a live demonstration by a qualified nurse via a video call.
Hospitals may also develop apps to provide diet recommendations to diabetics for better management of the disease.
In this context, a food and beverage company may expand into the health and wellness business by offering door-to-door health checks as well as blood tests to registered customers at home.
Another startup wants to connect retail, distribution centres and logistics using apps to economise the delivery of fresh ingredients to a large number of small food vendors in concentrated areas.
The app can also do food waste data analysis to help vendors reduce waste and increase profits.
Orapim said Aimspire currently classifies startup candidates into several categories from idea stage to platforms and mature startups.
“We have signed MoUs with four startups for healthtech, wearable devices, and fitness on demand.”
“Additionally, we help incubate and also invest in some promising startups for education technology as well as a transport app for van hiring,” she said.