Schwartz is a half Chinese-Austrian American who has been living in Thailand for 3 years now. With his dating app, MoreMate, he intends to change the way Thais date by letting them connect with people who are near them. Right now at the Bootstrap stage MoreMate has gained more than 100,000 users with most being Thais. Techsauce sat down with him and asked him a few questions on his success and what he has learned so far from his experience as a foreign startup in Thailand.
I spent my first year living in Thailand as an exchange student at Chulalongkorn University. Once I graduated I took the opportunity to work in Thailand by setting up a startup because I saw there was a lot of opportunities in Thailand. So I studied Thai. The Southeast Asian market has a lot of opportunities for startups. There are many people in the Thai market that use social media platforms such as Instagram.
The advice I have for foreigners who want to work in Thailand is that you have to learn how to speak Thai.
Another thing is you need to understand Thai culture. There are certain things in Thailand that are not that clear. For example Thais are not so direct. Those who have startups must speak to customers everyday to understand users. When asking a question or interviewing customers, Thais tend to not say what they really need and they do not say what they want.
I have faced a lot of problems, especially within the app circle.
Even though we had more subscribers than others we were not really accepted because they did not believe dating apps were compatible with Thai culture. They did not give us the chance to work together.
At the end, we found Telstra, an Australian telecommunications and media company, which set up a new accelerator in Singapore. They came to Techsauce last year and one of the accelerator members came to our booth and gave us the opportunity to register for the accelerator. We then became one of the top 10 startups under the program.
Many people say there are already many dating apps, why would our app work? Finding that special someone is not about numbers, it is about love. It is about what is in your heart.
The heart of the app owner must understand the hearts of users.
We have to fix and test everything well and talk with customers. We also need to understand what would make customers stay with us and not just subscribe and delete the app. We want users to keep using the app on a regular basis so that we can reach the level of seed funding.
If I was a sauce I would be somtam sauce because somtam sauce is very spicy. When doing an app you have to be spicy. Some people may be shocked or not accept you, but at least you will gain interest.
Building up a startup is not an easy thing to do. The experience that I have had is much more that you would get form studying for an MBA. If you are interested in this field, check out Techsauce.