Q&A

Issue 60

 
 

Food Designer, Nick Vipittichak Pitthayanont, proves that even without formal training, a determination to pursue a hobby can lead to success on the global stage.

Can you tell us about your job as a Food Designer?
It’s wonderful to be able to integrate visual arts into food-related knowledge and create a masterpiece. Apart from designing food on a plate, food designers can do other things like creating menus, developing restaurant concepts, [acting as a] F&B consultant, and providing advice related to food presentation. I advise clients on how to wow their customers the minute they step inside a restaurant because in today’s F&B industry, it’s important how the food looks as customers tend to use their eyes to eat before their mouths.

How can you create designs that reflect your ideas and also embrace customers’ hearts?
I call myself a ‘food designer’ or ‘food plating artist’ because to me a plate is like a canvas that can be painted with different colours of food. While taste is a key element of gastronomy, designing the plate and presenting the food in an artful manner also enhances the pleasure the diner derives from enjoying the dish.

What was the inspiration for your job?
From the beginning, cooking has been one of my favourite pastimes and together with my interest in art, I also gained an art degree in graphic design. When I cooked at home, I would decorate the different dishes and post them on social media. Instagram proved a great platform to make my works of art visible to a wide audience. Foreign chefs started following me on Instagram. As a result, I was constantly being contacted to recreate this kind of work.

What is your proudest experience as a Food Designer?
My work was featured on the front cover of Four Magazine, which is considered the UK’s leading magazine for the food industry. They contacted me when they saw my work on Instagram and asked me to design a plate for their cover. I decided to choose a dish of sticky rice with mango to represent Thainess. Another time was being interviewed by CNN, who complimented me on my determination and being self-taught. They even called me the Thai Gordon Ramsay. I felt very honoured.

Do you have any tips for those starting out upon this career?
To be a food designer, you have to possess a passion for the subject, practice your craft and be willing to improve yourself.

What are your future plans?
I planned to have a food styling workshop for those who want to learn the art of food plating, but it seems a bit difficult now, as I have to fly back and forth from Thailand to support restaurants in many countries, such as the Alto Sky Lounge at Hatten Hotel Melaka, the Zahr El-Laymoun in Dubai, Riva Arun, Bangkok and the Dom Café and Bistro, Bangkok.

 

 

Issue 58

Horizon talks with Kanida Sanee, managing director of Richy Rice, about how she has developed rice crackers to export to international markets.

What was the inspiration for your rice crackers?
About seven to eight years ago my home province, Phatthalung, faced the problem of having an excessive stock of Sangyod rice, so I tried to help solve this problem. At fairs our customers told us they wanted their children to eat Sangyod brown rice, but most of them rejected it. That challenged us to think about making processed Sangyod rice to serve that need. So we came up with rice crackers.

Could you tell us more about Sangyod rice?
Sangyod rice is the traditional rice from Phatthalung province in southern Thailand. It has been grown throughout the province for more than a hundred years and now it has GI status. Sangyod is an aromatic rice, which is delicious and good for the health because it is high in fibre. Our products are made from organic Sangyod rice.

When did you develop Richy Rice?
In 2013, my company worked with the Prince of Songkla University to research and develop new products, and we started marketing the crispy Sangyod rice cracker in late 2014. THAIFEX is one showcase where we collected feedback from consumers for our further product development.

What different flavours do you have?
Currently, we produce several processed Sangyod rice products, including crispy Sangyod rice cracker with teriyaki sauce, crispy Sangyod rice cracker with chocolate almond, Sangyod rice cracker with roasted chilli paste, and Sangyod rice soft crunch chocolate. Our rice cracker is different from other brands because it is made from Sangyod rice, which can be only grown in Phatthalung province.

Who are your key customers?
From the beginning, I have focused on exporting products to other countries. Now, about 90% of total sales comes from international markets and the rest is domestic. The biggest markets are Singapore, China and the Netherlands while we have seen higher demand in Vietnam and Malaysia.

What is your best-selling product?
The best seller is crispy cracker with chocolate almond. However, consumers in each market also prefer different flavours, for example, the Chinese and Singaporeans love crispy cracker with teriyaki sauce while the Europeans love Thai flavours, such as cracker with roasted chili paste.

What are your future plans?
Richy Rice will launch crackers with other flavours such as wasabi. We plan to explore new markets including South Korea and Japan as well as being an OEM for other brands.

For more information, follow FB:richyriceproducts and IG:richyrice 

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.

For more information, visit www.builk.com

 

 

Issue 57

 
 

Horizon talks to Kamol Kantajaraniti, managing director of Mass Accessories about how innovation plays an important role in his business.

Could you tell us the story behind Mass Accessories?
I was in the automotive accessories sector for many years and was looking for a new business, and I realised that an anti-car theft device was the best choice. At that time, I wondered why car owners were searching for additional devices to keep their cars from getting stolen. It inspired me to establish my company in 2005 to produce and distribute anti-car theft devices under the brands Aorto Lock, Locktech and Tonado.

How do your products work?
Our products such as the brake-clutch lock use a mechanical system to control the electronic system (alarm system). When anyone attempts to destroy the devices or cut the lock’s electronic system, it triggers the car horn and people near the car know there may be an unusual circumstance.

Why are your devices better than your competitors’ products?
Innovation plays an important role in my business and makes us survive in this fiercely competitive market. Before developing any device, the company conducts market research to study the consumers’ demand and product preferences. Then, the development process takes around three to five years including researching and developing the devices and product testing to ensure they reach their potential. We have a wide range of product categories to cover all customer demands and budgets.

What are your business strengths?
We develop our own innovations, and register the patent and trademark to protect the copyright in domestic and international markets. This enhances the confidence of our distributors in overseas markets and helps us to expand our business to other countries because people trust our product quality.

Have you won any awards?
The company received the IP Innovator and Creator Awards 2014 in the category of Invention Patent from the Department of Intellectual Property. We have been selected and approved by the DITP to use the Thailand Trust Mark (TTM), which is the symbol of excellence and trusted quality.

What are your future plans?
Now, about 70% of our sales comes from the domestic market and we plan to expand our business into foreign markets, especially in ASEAN countries.

For more information, please visit www.massacc.com.

 

 

Issue 55

KK Chin, the design director of tête-à-tête talks to Horizon about his inspiration and how he expresses different types of love through his jewelry collections.

Could you tell us something about tête-à-tête?
Every single detail of our brand has a story behind it starting with the brand name ‘tête-à-tête’ which means intimacy or heart-to-heart. All designs are created under the core concept of ‘Live for Love’, they simply tell stories of loves which are not only limited to love between couples, but also include other types of love, such as love between parents and their children, and love between friends. Most of the design ideas have come from my daily conversations with my wife, who is also a jewelry designer.

 

What is your best-selling collection?
The Dim Sum collection is the best seller and it won the Design Excellence Award (DEmark) in 2008. The collection consists of oversized gems on colourful hand-knotted polyester-silk rings. The idea behind this design emerged over a dim sum lunch when my wife and I discussed the meaning of the Chinese ‘dim sum’, which means ‘touch of heart’. In the past, Chinese wives had to prepare dim sum as snacks for their husbands, and it was the way of showing their love and caring.

Where do you sell your jewelry and to whom?
As I mentioned earlier, tête-à-tête’s key concept is ‘Live for Love’, therefore, you can find and purchase tête-à-tête jewelry collections at romantic places such as … the Rayavadee Hotel in Krabi, Six Senses Hotels & Resorts Maldives and other boutiques and galleries worldwide. However, as e-commerce is playing a vital role in this digital era, it has become the best platform for me to deliver my messages to customers from around the world, who are individuals with romantic hearts and are looking for creative and unique jewelry for themselves and their loved ones.

How can you create designs that reflect your ideas and also embrace customers’ hearts?
As a small jewelry brand, tête-à-tête must be unique and have a clear idea about what we do, including our brand identity, our target customers and design. I apply an ‘inside-out’ strategy for my design and my business. First of all, I know my strengths and limitations, my expertise and what I want to sell to my customers. Moreover, I learn about the needs of my target customers. To get this information, such as their tastes, lifestyle, and reasons for buying jewelry, I like to talk to my potential customers and listen to their feedback at trade fairs, at my showroom and through other distribution channels.

How do you see the future of tête-à-tête?
I wish to see tête-à-tête become a Thai brand that is widely recognised in the global market. Thainess is charming and I will continue to promote this value through my jewelry and would like to do a better job. I want to create unconventional jewelry and focus more on B2C marketing.

For more information, please visit www.tetejewellers.com or follow FB:tete-a-tete and twitter: teteatetedesign

Photo courtesy of tête-à-tête

 
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