4 June, 2013
The Asean Economic Community ( AEC ) is widely anticipated by everyone to open up new economic opportunities in all areas. Within this group, there is a subset market - Myanmar , Laos , and Cambodia ( MLC ) - that offers Thai tech entrepreneurs a unique appeal and opportunities, and therefore deserves special consideration. There are several unique and interesting observations that can be said about MLC.
The stabilisation of politics in these countries provides a precondition for economic rejuvenation and the subsequent growth that we are witnessing. With vast land, abundant natural resources, and a sizeable population, MLC is poised to grow very fast for the foreseeable future.
MLC and Thailand share striking cultural similarities. All are Theravada Buddhism countries. The society observes similar festivals like Songkran. People have a similar temperament. Because of cultural similarities, it is easy for MLC people to enjoy Thai entertainment media like movies and dramas. Despite the ongoing political skirmishes between some governments, the similar culture will give Thai entrepreneurs a unique advantage in partnership and marketing in these countries.
At this stage of development, MLC has a strong need for technical infrastructure products and services, be it hardware, software or services. This presents a unique opportunity for tech start-ups with expertise in hardware, network, payment services, etc, to jump in and provide them with necessary infrastructure. This infrastructure will also provide a base for the more advanced services like online and mobile services, e-commerce, and social networks. There are also vast opportunities for companies that provide the infrastructure level to leverage and gain advantage in providing advanced services subsequently.
MLC will not follow the same technological path as other countries that took off before them. They don't have to. Instead, they will leapfrog to the most advanced state-of-the-art technology available today with greater capabilities and lower costs. For example, people will start their digital experience with tablets instead of PCs. They will skip feature phone and go right into smart phone. In this fashion, MLC is likely to be very receptive to tech innovations that can help them propel forward. This also presents a great opportunity for tech start-ups with new innovative products and services to expand their market presence.
Like other emerging countries, the public sector will play a dominant role in all sectors. They will be one of the most important customers, distributors, and influencers in whatever area you choose to go into. So, pay attention to them, work with them, and grow with them.
Like in any other country, even more so, you need to have good partners to help you navigate the unfamiliar economic territory. So, cultivate partnerships and think win-win so you can have a sustainable and profitable venture in MLC. Do not make a mistake of focusing only on short-term economic gains and try to take advantage. Think long-term. Help them develop their economies and societies. That is how you build a win-win partnership.
Posted on The Nation