My Interview for MBA Entrepreneurship Class at Chulalongkorn University
Mr. Jakkraphan Thongsirikul contacted me for an interview about my entrepreneurship journey and Priceza story. He is studying in the MBA English Program at Chulalongkorn University. This is for Entrepreneurship class. Below is my interview:
The venture I have chosen is “Priceza” (http://www.priceza.com). Priceza is the biggest price comparison engine in Thailand. It helps Thai shoppers to easily search and compare products and services from many online stores. Priceza had recently received a seed funding from CyberAgent Ventures and expanded its business to Indonesia. Therefore I believe that I will learn so much about being a successful entrepreneur from Priceza.
Priceza was founded by Thanawat Malabuppha (Wai),Vachara Nivataphand (Kaew), and Wirod Supadul (Ha). They have become close friends since they did a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering from Chulalongkorn University. At this time I was appointed with khun Wai and khun Kaew for an interview.
Before an era of Priceza, the three founders came up with an idea from PriceGrabber (http://www.pricegrabber.com), a price comparison platform in the US. They thought that Thailand should have one too because at that time, year 2005, there was not any price comparison platforms in Thailand. Consumers would need to use a search engine like Google to manually search for products in many online stores, and then manually compare their prices. The three founders then established their first price comparison platform “Shopsanova” (http://www.shopsanova.com).
Even though the three founders have programming skills, they hired a friend to help them writing codes for Shopsanova’s platform, while they did their full-time job and only did business-related tasks for Shopsanova. It took around 2 years to eventually launch in 2007 because they believed that the platform should equip with a lot of functionalities, therefore they spent long time developing many functionalities.
Unfortunately, it turned out that Shopsanova would not as successful as they expected. It did not make profit and there were many technical issues, such as the system
was frequently down, as a result, it could not service a large number of customers. The three founders were also too busy with their full-time job and could not be sufficiently be involved with Shopsanova. The three founders then eventually shut down Shopsanova.
In 2009, the three founders considered to start a new platform, which is Priceza. They used experiences that they learnt from Shopsanova and developed the new platform by themselves. This time they focused only on developing the best price comparison engine and ignored other unimportant functionalities because they believed that doing well in only one thing is better than doing too many things. Priceza was eventually launched in 2010.
Within one year, Priceza grew rapidly and gained attention from many online stores. It was able to break even and cover all the costs incurred since Shopsanova. After that there were many big players in web business as well as venture capitalists in Thailand and abroad wanted to acquire Priceza. But any deals had not been made because Priceza believed that it would grow much larger and the investors undervalued it.
Eventually in 2013, CyberAgent Ventures from Japan had successfully closed the deal with Priceza, with around 20 million baht seed funding while Priceza still holds a majority of shares of the company. CyberAgent Ventures helps Priceza in many aspects, such as network partnership, and business expansion to Indonesia in 2013. Now Priceza aims to be number one price comparison engine in South East Asia.
Thanawat Malabuppha (Wai) suggested that the characteristics that make you to be a successful entrepreneur are: passionate in something that you can do it for more than 10 years; think big and aim for it; and “get shit done”,which is to do what you have to do even though it is hard and unmotivated. Vachara Nivataphand (Kaew) suggested that you have to be self-discipline, have a clear goal and willful in achieving it.
On creating a new venture for entrepreneurs, Thanawat Malabuppha (Wai) recommended that, firstly, you should not aim the business to raise fund because it is not actually essential if you can create a real value for your business. Secondly, execution is really important and a good business plan needs a good execution to be successful. Vachara Nivataphand (Kaew) suggested that to keep idea secret and not talking to anybody, because you are afraid that other people would steal the idea, is actually not good for your startup. Because your ideas would actually be the same as ideas of somebody else in the world, so there might be somebody doing it somewhere in the world. It would be better for you to share the ideas with other people and listen to their comments, so that you can improve the idea and execute it in the right direction. Furthermore, he suggested that it is better to have a team rather than doing a startup alone because one can do very well in only one or few things, and having more people could generate much greater outcome.