Anyone in Thailand knows dtac. One of the triumvirate of telecom overlords in Thailand (the other two being True and AIS), dtac has also become one of Thailand’s key players in the start-up scene in recent years, thanks to their dtac Accelerate incubator program, which has so far generated over 30 high-value start-ups such as Skootar, Takemetour and Seekster since it began in 2013. With a combined value of over 3-billion THB, and a 70% rate of follow-up funding, dtac Accelerate is recognized as one of the best start-up incubators in the country, and a prime example of the potential rewards to be had from the collaboration between corporations and start-ups.
Speaking at the Techsauce Global Summit 2017 main stage, Prisana Ratanasuwanasri – SVP and Head of dtac’s Postpaid Division – shared precisely what start-ups and corporations can expect to get out of this collaboration, drawing examples from the company’s successful incubator program.
“These days, people no longer need a reason to want to use the internet,” said Prisana, referring to the increasingly widespread use of online services like Youtube, Facebook or Netflix by consumers.
“But what we want to go for is to create delightful digital experiences for our customers, in order to become the favorite partner of our customers’ digital lives. To that end, one thing remains: innovation.”
As a large telecom corporation, dtac’s customer base is vast, to say the least. Furthermore, dtac also has a sizeable pool of resources to call upon, be it capital or expertise. However, DTAC’s size also makes it much less maneuverable compared to typical start-ups, which can pivot and innovate far faster.
While organizations think and speak in terms of months and weeks, start-ups think in terms of hours and days. So with this, it helps slowly – and sometimes quickly – transform the corporate culture. This is what we hope transpires with our collaboration with start-ups. At dtac now, the culture we want our people to have is inspired by these entrepreneurs: to act fast, to be daring, to think different, and lastly the passion to win.
By combining the best of both worlds, start-ups can take advantage of dtac’s resources – customer base, working space, funding, etc – while also providing dtc with the opportunity to integrate new, innovative services into their repertoire, providing a better, more varied experience for their customers.
One such innovation comes in the form of Takemetour, a platform that connects tourists to ‘local experts’ who provide unique tour experiences across Thailand. Combining the service with their Tourist SIM Card, DTAC provides the start-up with a steady stream of new users, while also adding extra value to their own product.
Another example of productive collaboration is Seekster, a service that connects service providers from fields such as house-keeping and appliance-repairs with customers. While not directly linked to dtac’s position as a telecom provider, Seekster can still work to redefine what kind of services customers expect from companies like dtac.
“How can dtac not be the favorite digital partner for customers when we can help them find people to do their chores?” said Prisana.
Furthermore, collaborating closely with start-ups can help transform corporate culture. The comparably fast-paced culture of start-ups can rub off on corporations, leading to a faster, action-focused work culture among corporate employees as well.
“While organizations think and speak in terms of months and weeks, start-ups think in terms of hours and days. So with this, it helps slowly – and sometimes quickly – transform the corporate culture. This is what we hope transpires with our collaboration with start-ups. At dtac now, the culture we want our people to have is inspired by these entrepreneurs: to act fast, to be daring, to think different, and lastly the passion to win.”
Prisana goes on to explain the three key success factors of collaboration based on DTAC’s own successes. These include:
1. Start-up Focused Mentality
Corporations should aim to adapt towards the culture of start-ups instead of imposing their own way of doing things on start-ups. This helps accelerate the innovative process, allowing start-ups the freedom to explore and augment their products and solutions. Corporations should focus on helping start-ups achieve their goals instead of thinking only of what the start-ups can offer them.
2. Passionate Supporters
It is also important for corporate representatives to have a true desire to see these start-ups succeed. Corporations should not hesitate to offer any kind of support, mentors, networks, and access to various other resources that can help start-ups achieve their own goals.
3. Long-term Corporate Strategy
The corporation should be committed to the development of innovative solutions. It is crucial that executives and management truly believe that the open innovation platform is really an integral part in transforming the corporate culture into one of innovation.
“It takes a village to raise a child,” concluded Prisana.
“In the same way, it takes the entire community – from corporations to entreprenerus and VCs - to raise successful start-ups.”