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Rise of the Phuket tech scene at Echelon

The local tech community received a jolt in the arm last Saturday (August 16) as Prince of Songkla University held the first of four satellite events taking place across the nation for Echelon Thailand 2014 – the biggest meetup for tech startups in the country.

By Jean-Pierre Mestanza

Friday 22 August 2014, 05:48PM


The big show will take place next month in Bangkok as over 20 startup companies are expected to make their six-minute pitch to investors. One of those companies is School OS, a startup that won a spot in September's event after making a successful pitch to a panel of judges at PSU last week.

“I would like to be the king of data, like a Youtube,” said Sharif Densumite, Project Manager and CEO of School OS.

The startup is essentially a content management system, website, and mobile app that helps small-to-mid-sized schools go paperless. Teachers use the software to input student grades and make notes while parents can use the app and website to track their child's performance.

“I believe that when the student studies better, their parent should track together with school. Its role of parents and teachers to do good for the student,” Densumite said.

Given the island's reputation as a travel haven, the judges were surprised that a company focused on education stood out.

It's the beginning of a long road, according Thaddeus Koh, the co-founder of E27, the organisers of Echelon. The Singaporean confirmed that Phuket will become an annual satellite destination for Echelon Thailand with an emphasis on steering the local community towards it potential strengths.

“There is a balance here. It is a mix of looking what Phuket has to offer and what they should be doing. In next couple of years we should see Phuket thriving much more in the travel tech sector,” Koh noted.


In addition to Koh, the panel of five judges included PSU professor Rattana Wetprasit and two veterans of the Thai startup scene, Amarit Charonenphan and Paul Sutthapong.

All five startups took turns summarising their companies, which ranged from four-year-old businesses to six-week operations.

CloudHotelBooking and The faceBIZ were two startups that worked within the travel sector while SETScope was built for investors to better evaluate stocks. The lone non-Thai representative was the Singapore-based Nearcircles, a startup meant to connect neighbours in order to barter skillsets (a photoshop enthusiast shares their knowledge with a yoga practitioner, and vice-versa).

While Phuket will not be the next Silicon Valley within the next year, bringing the tech scene together through events like Echelon is a significant step towards to building bridges with the rest of Asia.

“Every year, when we do more activities and bring more investors and companies here, we hope to see more engagement from the community and bring parties together to dscuss what's next for Phuket, whether it is government support or more funding, things like this,” Koh said. 

“The overall goal is build up the ecosystem here for Phuket to grow into an emerging hub for the Thailand tech scene.”

This article appeared in the August 22, 2014 issue of The Phuket News.



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