HomeInterview500 TukTuks is set to continue investing in startups

500 TukTuks is set to continue investing in startups

COVID-19 pandemic has been shaking startup ecosystem across the globe. But it will not stop 500 TukTuks Fund from investing in budding ventures with promising prospects.

“Over the next one or two year(s), medical tech and health tech will boom,” Pahrada Sapprasert said in her capacity as the director of 500 TukTuks, “This is on top of the fact that COVID-19 has spurred e-commerce, e-logistics, and e-payment”.

She also revealed that her fund was especially interested in health tech, food tech, and deep tech.

“As the whole world has stepped into digital economy, tech startups will definitely have a bigger role to play. There is a possibility that today’s small startups can become the firms with biggest market capitalization in Thailand in the future. Such things have already happened in the United States and China,” Pahrada said.

In an exclusive interview with The Story Thailand, Pahrada said Thai startups had ample opportunities to grow in spite of COVID-19. “As the country is closed, users here may switch to Thai startups from overseas-based startups,” she pointed out.

She added that if Thailand could handle COVID-19 situation well and roar back to normal faster than other Southeast Asian nations, its businesses would have better prospects than their peers elsewhere. As of May 23, just 68 out of confirmed 3,040 COVID-19 patients in Thailand are still in hospitals. The number of new cases has also been very low. For example, there were just three new cases reported on May 23.

However, Pahrada emphasized that all startups must realize that they needed to adapt fast.

She recommended them to review their core businesses and resources, and determine how to twist them to best suit changing needs and landscape.

“Think about new business models, new products, new services, and new collaborations,” she suggested.

Pahrada said as the COVID-19 situation was still unfolding, assessments and analyses must be done every day. “In some cases, it may be necessary to restart. Those in the Series A may have to go back to a seed round and present a new minimum viable product (MPV),” she explained.

According to her, COVID-19 threat has affected every business. Even enterprises in industries that do not face direct impacts are affected in one way or another, as some of their suppliers or customers are dealt with direct blows.

Pahrada revealed that of 71 startups 500 TukTuks had invested in, most had been relatively stable in the face of COVID-19 rage. “Then, there are five that have benefited from the COVID-19 situation and there are 10 that have plunged into a crisis,” she said.

She disclosed that the struggling startups were in the tourism and service sectors, which had usually been the strengths of Thailand.

TukTuks 500 has been helping the struggling startups by connecting them to investors so that they had cash flow to keep going until their business operations could return to normal. In addition, it has offered counseling in a bid to boost their survival chance.

“For example, we give them suggestions on how to reduce expenses,” Pahrada said. She added that most startups that have been in 500 TukTuks portfolio are getting leaner, curbing marketing cost, and focusing on retention rates.

Pahrada said COVID-19 crisis now gave every chief executive officer (CEO) a crucial test and Thai startups had now engaged in collaborations more than ever before.

“They have now collaborated with fellow startups, business partners and even customers to a point that collaboration may become a new normal here,” she said.

She also disclosed that Thailand’s startup ecosystem was very cohesive and several associations had worked hard to support it.

“One of the things we are pushing now is to encourage Thai government agencies and big firms to consider using Thai startups, rather than relying on foreign startups,” she added.



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