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Hatching plans

A technology incubator programme is helping five teams get their ideas off the ground

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When it comes to Thai start-ups, developers are encouraged to think big. Instead of focusing solely on applications or computer programs catering solely to Thai users, creators should expand and look at the regional market, too. 

Hankster Club.

This is the idea behind True Incube Class II, the technology incubator programme designed particularly for Thai start-ups keen to exercise their creativity.

Punnamas Vichitkulwongsa, True Incube’s managing director, said that Thai developers are smart in terms of design and user interface, but when they come to the point of creating the back-end systems, they were unable to make it scalable in supporting hundreds, thousands or millions of users.

“This is the problem that many fast-growing businesses have been faced with, and with the experience of True, we can help the start-ups with planning," said the managing director, adding that the solution is not about technology, but marketing.

Criteria that True Incube considers for the programme are quality teams, quality ideas and value that True can add to these teams. Market size is another factor. Consequently, teams must also be able to localise their initiatives, to serve both local and Asian markets.

This year more than 100 teams took part in the campaign. And five finalists were recently announced, each of which receives an initial funding of 500,000 baht, an opportunity to join an intensive 99-day boot camp and also training and consultation with experts from True Incube and its partner network. The best team will be selected to visit one of the world’s leading global incubators, 500 Startups, in Silicon Valley in order to present their business plan and learn more about working with a world-class incubator.

Here are the five final teams.

Hola

Those who once loved or were familiar with Second Life, a desktop-based programme, can now enjoy a mobile version entitled Hola, which was developed by a Thai tech-savvy team under a similar concept, but for a mobile platform.

Hola.

Hola is a location-based chat application, using an avatar to express oneself in the virtual world. With a real-time chat function, users create their own avatar with costumes, emoticons, accessories and so forth to represent themselves. Like a sticker, avatars appear on Google Maps and do activities according to their real-world replica.

Hola co-founder and president Jarruspong Makkul explained that once users download the application, they can use their ID and chat with friends or add friends via Facebook. In the first version, which is now in its beta phase, users can do both private and group chats with friends through avatars, but for the upcoming version, they can interact with other avatars who are Hola users once those avatars appear at the location near them.

Besides online chat aficionados, shop owners can also have an avatar in the virtual world and chat with other Hola members and invite them to visit their shop. The app is scheduled to open for download by the end of May. The Hola development team, comprising graduates from King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, plans to offer in-app purchases by selling items for virtual trading or services.

Hankster

Hankster, an online group matchmaking service, was developed to cater to Thai and Asian people who like to have social outings in groups.

Matchmaking and online dating applications have been popular for a couple of years, but those match couples. Hankster is the first app in Asia that provides group matches. Each group may consist of two or three members of a similar sex.

Users need to answer questions related to their lifestyle such as what kind of restaurant they like to visit or if they prefer nightlife, among others. The system will gather and analyse all these answers as well as data from users’ Facebook profile and will then match them with the other group by screening their profile. The app will also match and arrange the place and time that mostly accommodate to both parties.

Chanwit Kaenrenu, sales manager of Hankster Club, said that the service focuses on social outings.

“The group matchmaking is pretty suitable for Thai and Asian people because when they come in a group, pressure and seriousness seem to decline, and if the match does not work, they can be friends,” he said.

In Thailand, there are approximately 16 million singles, according to figures from Kasikorn Research Centre, and the number is likely to be increasing. Hankster’s survey said that 61% of them agreed that matchmaking is a good solution. The online service is now offered on the web and over next three months, the mobile version will be available in the App Store. So far, Hankster’s outings cover 25 venues in Bangkok and it will soon expand to Chiang Mai, Had Yai, Phuket and Songkla as well as other Southeast Asian countries soon.

Course Square

Course Square is an e-learning platform in a multimedia format for organisations looking to increase the efficiency of their training programmes. The software includes course management, a marketplace, interactive learning, gamification and analysis which displays results and tracks and employee achievement.

Companies can view the learning behaviour of employees and their progressive learning in infographics.

“The program encourages people to enjoy learning with the feature of gamification as they can get points or badges to show their friends or boss,” said Nuttapon Watcharasirisuk, the team leader, adding that courses available on the marketplace will include basic IT, languages and soft skills. 

Puun

Puun is a solution for accounting firms developed by experts to simplify accounting by transforming complicated mathematical figures into graphic information. The desktop-based program serves as an analytic tool that users can understand and view the overall accounting, changes and trends of each items.

Vetside

Vetside is a social network for veterinarians serving as a knowledge-sharing platform on how to cure animals. Dr Thanapat Sukvisut, a veterinarian from Chulalongkorn University, said that initially Vetside is a community of vets as so far there is not any centre of knowledge for animal treatment, and in the second stage, it will be extended to others. Vetside is planned to be further developed as Thailand’s biggest knowledge hub of medical treatment for animals.

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