When Thai Central Bankers talk of strong Thai fundamentals; do they have a “Good Point?” (Up-Dated)

In a recent poll, by KBank, of 1,000s of corporations in Thailand, found that about 60% of them, a record level, is heading “Out-Of” Thailand for investments, because of the Thai political crisis. Also at about the same time, Thailand’s central bank governor, Prasarn, said Thailand can withstand the political crisis, in the short-term, because of “Sound Fundamentals.”

Thailand is a great place to live and work, and ranked consistently, as offering one of the globe’s top living standards. From cost of living, to health to entertainment and vacation, are fundamentals, that is difficult for most countries to match.

The following from Infoworld.com, is a report about two “Entrepreneurs” who came to Thailand for a vacation, fell in love with Thailand, and started dabbling, using Thailand as the base, in internet business.

Thailand, like many countries, has been focusing on spurring business related to the internet. Here it is a unit called SIPA, that is part of the country’s science development unit, NSTDA that is pushing “Internet Business Start-Up.” SIPA has a variety of program, but most noted for, is a “Reverse Brain Drain” program, targeted at bringing back to Thailand, internet start-up, by Thais overseas. This “Reverse Brain Drain” program is noted for many successes.

Apart from that SIPA reverse brain drain program, SIPA offers most concepts that is popular with internet related start-up, such as soft-ware parks at locations across Thailand that is noted for high quality of life and living, and also various aspects of the popular “Internet Community Building” to build up linkages of the internet related industry in Thailand.

However, Thailand is a highly “Traditional Politicized” country in many ways, and this conservative development, have resulted in a much slow pace of “Cutting-Edge” new business development opportunity in Thailand. And for example, Vietnam, from coming from about zero in internet related business, with more effective governing, have been able to develop an internet related business, that have rivaled Thailand in many aspects.

Thailand’s advantage, according to the high tech-industry statement, a few years back, is that Thailand continues to enjoy, “Higher-Value Added” and “Deeper” cutting-edge high tech business, like in software development.

(Up-Dated) New York Times reports BANGKOK — Thailand’s economy shrank more than expected in the first quarter, data showed on Monday, as exports remained weak and months of political unrest threatened to tip the economy into recession. The state planning agency, which compiles data on gross domestic product, said there had been a 2.1 percent contraction in the January-March quarter, compared with the previous three months. The first quarter recorded a contraction of 0.6 percent from a year earlier. The agency, the National Economic and Social Development Board, lowered its 2014 G.D.P. growth forecast to between 1.5 percent and 2.5 percent from between 3 percent to 4 percent. The country has been governed since December by a caretaker administration with limited fiscal powers, and the crisis seems likely to continue as protest groups seek to install an unelected government. The outlook for the April-June quarter and beyond is grim, analysts say. “Chances are, we are going to see another technical recession in the economy, given that the second-quarter G.D.P. number is likely to be rather poor as well,” said Gundy Cahyadi, an economist with DBS Bank in Singapore (End).

The following is from Infoworld.com (Source)

May 15, 2014

Programmer entrepreneurs: Start anywhere, including Thailand

The world does not begin and end in Silicon Valley — or Austin or Durham. While in Thailand, I met two U.S. coders who stayed and became successful entrepreneurs

The hours may be long, but few professions offer as much flexibility as that of the software developer. I’m not just talking about not needing to dress or bathe properly. If you’re a programmer on vacation somewhere and never want to leave, maybe you shouldn’t. Many places will welcome experienced software developers with entrepreneurial spirit.

What does the welcome look like? In Thailand, the Board of Investment can help you with tax incentives, including an eight-year tax holiday that can be deferred for up to five years if you lose money during your first few (which is common with any start-up). The Board can help you with visas and all the standard legal stuff that might arise. If you become rather successful, there’s a “one-stop shop” in Chiang Mai where they can connect you with various agencies for visas, taxes, and real estate.

[ Find out what topics and issues affect tech’s biggest names and news makers in the IDGE Insider CEO interview series. | Read Bill Snyder’s Tech’s Bottom Line blog for what the key business trends mean to you. ]
A tale of two expats

I spoke to John Douglas, the head of Mycos Technologies in Chiang Mai, who’s been in Thailand for more than 12 years.He started out in Colorado and worked in Texas for a larger company. Having no previous experience running a company, he moved to Thailand. He was originally on vacation and immediately fell in love with the culture, food, and people. Luckily, his daughters were young and his wife was agreeable.
He took advantage of Thailand’s untapped talent and lower cost of labor (45,000 baht or about $1,400 per month is considered high) and developed charting components for .Net, achieving “modest” success without marketing or sales departments. From there he was able to land a few clients from Ireland, Australia, the U.S., and France, mainly doing offshore programming work. Currently, Mycos has grown to about 45 people primarily through word of mouth.

I also spoke to Steven Prussky, who started two companies: SiamMandalay and Aware Corporation. In 1993, Steven visited Thailand and witnessed the artistry and crafts in the northern area around Chiang Mai. By 1997, he’d moved and incorporated as a limited company in Chiang Mai and has since expanded. I toured his compound, and it’s an impressive combination of Thai and Western architecture, which Steven understandably takes great pride in, since he designed it and focused on small details like exposed brick (which in Thailand is seen as odd).
Because Steven was an IT guy by trade, he automated and built software around his business. While doing trade shows around the world, including in the United States and his native Canada, people would see his software, which delivered the real-time inventory and supply chain management we now take for granted to the crafts industry. Other companies started to want that software, too.

Aware Corporation was born and now is a full-service IT firm that sells local IT services primarily to telecommunications companies and banks. Internationally, it sells mainly to mid-market-size companies.

Steven also provides an example of how technology people handle their non-technology business and “return to the well,” so to speak. As SiamMandalay’s wooden puzzles and games faced increasing competition from cheap Chinese knockoffs, Steven once again found a technical solution: 3D-rendered cheat sheets.

Both of these guys went on vacation and never came back. In a global economy, in a high-demand field, there may not always be a reason to.
Of course, cultural challenges often present themselves. This is a sweeping generalization, but in work situations, Thai people tend to avoid conflict. That’s welcome most of the time, but in an engineering discussion, a difference of opinion can be an asset, and the boss may want to know if you disagree on a technical basis. Douglas’ lesson learned was “first, deflate your ego,” and then take time and develop trust.
There are advantages as well. As Prussky put it, “If you go to Silicon Valley and say, ‘I’ve got a $10 million idea,’ they’ll tell you, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t know anyone who is interested in $10 million.’ In Thailand, the lower costs and immaturity of the market means there are tons of opportunities in business apps.” In addition, both men agreed that in Thailand, employee burnout is more rare. People work consistently and with focus, but they don’t work crazy hours. They also don’t slump the way that’s common in the “90 hours and loving it” environments common in Silicon Valley.

What about the political risks? While in Bangkok, I took a walk through a protest camp (which the State Department does not recommend you do), and, on my way home, the prime minister was deposed by the court. While in Chiang Mai, I had dinner with the U.S. consul general, Michael Heath. He confirmed that the business policies of Thailand had been consistent through multiple governments and a coup. Foreign-owned businesses that weren’t heavily exposed to the softening local economy had been largely unaffected.

So if you’re a developer and have enough liquid assets, and you go on vacation and never want to come back … maybe you don’t have to. Thanks to the worldwide effects of globalization, it’s a great time to be a developer. If you want to see the world, start a business, or live abroad, we’re at a moment in history when the world really is your oyster.

This article, “Programmer entrepreneurs: Start anywhere, including Thailand,” was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Keep up on the latest news in application development and read more of Andrew Oliver’s Strategic Developer blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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