Issue 56

We caught up with Patai Padungtin, founder of Builk and the Thailand Tech Startup Association at the CLMVT (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam and Thailand) Summit to talk about his software, which is now used by all 10 countries in ASEAN, and Thai start-ups.

Can you tell us something about Builk?
Builk was founded six years ago and provides free construction management software for SMEs. We wanted to see a change in the construction landscape in Thailand. The programme can control construction project costs and gives real-time results. Due to the large number of users, we collect large data coming to our platform to understand the demands of buyers, the types of material that they want. Matching demand and supply is crucial to e-commerce.

How does Builk stand out from other startups?
The construction industry has one of the highest business failure rates worldwide. Builk is designed from a contractor’s perspective. It simplifies processes and provides construction business management knowledge to construction SMEs.

In your opinion, what makes a startup successful?
Two words that need to be highlighted are repeatable and scalable. If you can solve this problem in Thailand, then you can expand to CLMV, and you can make the business scalable by utilising digital tools. Most of the startups we know today are technology startups or tech startups.

Can you tell us about the Thailand Tech Startup Association?
I try to create an awareness to take technology to our members’ businesses to help them grow. Startups are designed to scale quickly and focus on growth. The difference between startups and SMEs is that there are no geographical constraints and no boundaries to doing business.

What is the most challenging thing about running a startup?
Around 90% of startups fail not because they don’t have the technology, but because they don’t know how to turn it into a real business. Execution is the key. It’s very challenging to get monetised. Entrepreneurship is turning assumptions into facts. If the assumption is false, then you can stop and fix the issues until you find the right business model.

Do you have any tips for startups in the region?
My advice for CLMVT startups is firstly, try to solve real-world problems such as pollution, health or transportation. Secondly, execute the business locally. Thirdly, when expanding the business you should share your knowledge and team up with locals. Unicorns [startups worth over US$1 billion] can create wealth and jobs, and make an impact in the country. There are a hundred unicorns worldwide but only 20 in Southeast Asia – in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam. But not yet in Thailand, we need to catch up. [Building unicorns] is even better than creating the highest building in ASEAN or in the world because this is a real business.

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