Bangkok is one of South-East Asia’s most buzzing cities, yet so little is known internationally about the Thai startup scene. It’s quite a shame because it actually has a lot to offer.
I recently spent a week exploring Bangkok and its startup community, and absolutely loved it. I had the opportunity to meet some awesome entrepreneurs, learn about Bangkok’s start-up community and visit some great coworking spaces.
If you happen to be in town, have 24 hours to spare and are looking for an entrepreneurial experience, try some (or all) of my ‘Bangkok must-dos for the traveling entrepreneur’.
1. Root Garden
Start your day the good way by visiting the Root Garden on Thong Lor. It’s a great place to grab a cup of coffee or breakfast while enjoying this little patch of green in the middle of Bangkok’s urban high rises.
The Root Garden, an urban farm, is a social project founded by 29-year-old Eakdanai Wongwattana with the aim of showcasing efficient land use. On-site you will find a small shop selling coffee, cakes, juices and other breakfast items, as well as a vegetable garden, chicken and goats. The Root Garden encourages its visitors to get their hands dirty by participating in their urban farming workshops and activities.
The proceeds from the coffee shop go towards running the urban farm, as well as supporting a push in Thailand’s land reform. Essentially, it’s a great way to get your day started while supporting a good cause.
2. Hubba Thailand
There is no better place to dive right into the Thai start-up scene than at HUBBA – Thailand’s first coworking space. It’s only 20 minutes away from the Root Garden by foot, so you can easily head over right after breakfast. HUBBA has a community of 200+ members and not only offers access to a great coworking space but also events and workshops, as well as consulting services and venture capital networking.
I spent a few hours at HUBBA meeting staff, discussing collaboration opportunities and engaging with the members. I was also given a tour of HUBBA, MakerZoo and the space that was formerly PAH Creative Space (which now belongs to HUBBA).
On a side note: MakerZoo opens up to the public every Sunday for Maker Sunday. If you are looking to play around with their 3D printer or get crafty, stop by to make something.
After the tour, I was invited to attend Power Lunch – a weekly team-building lunch session. It was good fun – we played truth or dare (a slightly different version than most of us know) while eating delicious Thai food. If you happen to be in town on a Wednesday, I highly recommend you to join the lunch – it’s a great way to meet some awesome entrepreneurs from around the world!
While at HUBBA, I also had the opportunity to meet the lovely Mam who manages e27’s Founders Drinks Thailand and Echelon Thailand. E27 and HUBBA are working collaboratively to bring more startup events to the Bangkok community. Thank you Shilpa for the introduction!
Just down the street from HUBBA is another coworking space – Ma:D (or Madehub). I went over there after lunch to check out the space as I was very interested in (and quite pleasantly surprised by) Thailand’s social entrepreneurship engagement. Ma:D is a free coworking space for social entrepreneurs. They fund the space’s operations by renting out private offices, meeting rooms and event space for a fee. Ma:D also hosts community/capacity building programs, as well as social and inspirational events.
I was greeted by the very passionate Darlee, Ma:D’s Project Coordinator. She gave me a tour of the space, told me a little bit about Thailand’s social start-up community and also highlighted a great project that is currently showcased at the coworking space.
Ma:D’s team says that “no matter who you are or what you are doing. Believe it! You can make a change to our society. Just come to us and we will work together to change the world”.
So, if you are interested in what Thailand’s social start-up community has to offer, it is worth stopping by Ma:D. You might even get challenged to a game of table tennis by Darlee – I did!
4. Thirsty Thursdays at the Hive
If you happen to be in town on a Thursday, don’t miss the Hive’s Thirsty Thursdays meetup. The Hive is a coworking space in Bangkok located in Soi 49. It’s quite an impressive building, housing several floors of private offices and hot-desking space, as well as a spa and roof top bar.
At the event, I had the opportunity to speak to Sor, the Hive’s Managing Director. She gave me an overview of the space, as well as the events they host. The Hive already has a few locations in Hong Kong, and opened its first location in Bangkok about 1 year ago.
Thirsty Thursdays is a great opportunity to meet entrepreneurs from around the world as around 80% of the Hive’s members are internationals. I met interesting entrepreneurs from England, Spain, USA, Vietnam, Ukraine and Thailand. It was great to talk to people about their projects and startups, what brought them to Thailand, and simply share experiences.
If you happen to be in town on a Thirsty Thursdays evening, are keen to grab a drink on an amazing roof top bar AND want to meet some great entrepreneurs, this is a must-do!
What else is there to know about BKK’s start-up community?
Events & meetups: There is so much happening in Bangkok’s start-up ecosystem, such as Drink Entrepreneurs, e27’s Founders Drinks, Bangkok Entrepreneurs, Startup Founder 101, among many other meetups and events. If you are looking to meet some awesome people and learn more about this thriving community, check out Bangkok Startup’s comprehensive list of events and meetups.
Coworking spaces: I highlighted a few coworking spaces in this post, however, there are others that are worth checking out, such as Launchpad. If you are looking to get some work done in Bangkok, check out Thai Startup for a list of coworking spaces.
Resources: If you are looking for information on events, start-ups, investors and the Asian start-up community in general, e27 and Tech in Asia are your go-to resources. They are Asia’s top tech & entrepreneurship online news outlets. If you are looking for Thailand (or Bangkok) – specific information, check out Thai Startup and Bangkok Startup.