My Southeast Asia Ventures: I co-founded an electrical bike agency in Thailand. It’s thrilling however robust being away from my household in Singapore

My Southeast Asia Ventures: I co-founded an electric motorbike firm in Thailand. It’s exciting but tough being away from my family in Singapore

I dare say it was with a little bit little bit of destiny and plenty of religion that I ended up doing enterprise in Thailand.

Quickly after graduating from the Nationwide College of Singapore (NUS) in 2019, I took up a job in e-commerce and was posted to Bangkok.

Being new to the place, I spent most of my free time exploring the town and discovering good meals.

There, I used to be launched to Ben Tun by way of a good friend and investor. Ben ultimately turned a detailed good friend and co-founder of our electrical motorbike firm — Smooth EV — which operates in Thailand.

Ben and I hit it off once we first met. I attempted talking in my damaged Thai, however he replied in Singlish as an alternative!

That was after I discovered Ben, who’s Thai, had studied on the Singapore Worldwide Faculty of Bangkok, which defined his information of our tradition.

We shared related entrepreneurial aspirations which led us to enterprise into the electrical automobile (EV) house in 2019, earlier than launching our model final 12 months.

It has been an thrilling journey doing enterprise abroad.

Thailand is a promising marketplace for electrical bikes resulting from its excessive demand for EVs, supportive authorities insurance policies comparable to subsidies, and well-developed manufacturing base.

The retail worth of electrical bikes ranges from round US$1,000 (S$1,330) to greater than US$5,000.
These components, together with the low value of possession, make Thailand a pretty marketplace for electrical motorbike producers like Smooth.

I attribute my consolation in working in a overseas setting to a time after I spent a 12 months in New York Metropolis, working with early Spotify workforce members to construct a start-up in 2017 underneath the NUS Abroad Schools programme.

It was by way of that programme that I used to be uncovered to the real-life challenges of constructing a enterprise. 

I not solely discovered how you can construct a start-up from scratch, but additionally how you can work with folks from various backgrounds, and bought information in departments comparable to human sources and fundraising, that are very relevant to what I’m doing now.

I now journey ceaselessly between Thailand and Singapore, spending two weeks in Thailand, then working in Singapore for per week, and again once more.

It may be tough being away from my spouse and new child daughter in Singapore, however the good factor is that Bangkok is only a two-hour flight away.

Enterprise was not all the time clean crusing, significantly in an unfamiliar territory the place there are variations in language, tradition, and methods of conducting enterprise.

There have been occasions when my workforce members couldn’t perceive what I used to be attempting to say, resulting from language nuances, and we ended up standing in entrance of one another trying to speak utilizing a translation app on our telephones.

Smooth has come a good distance and with our launch final September, we’re specializing in increasing our presence in Thailand.

I consider 2023 will probably be an thrilling interval for us as we launch our community of battery swapping stations in Bangkok, with the purpose of eliminating vary anxiousness.

I consider Singaporeans are a savvy bunch, who’ve the adaptability to stay overseas and immerse themselves in different cultures.

Our authorities has additionally been very supportive of homegrown entrepreneurs doing enterprise in Southeast Asia, with many grants comparable to Enterprise Singapore’s (ESG) Market Readiness Help Grant that helps native enterprises organising abroad.

In our case, ESG has helped open doorways for us, by way of their networking periods with related corporations and establishments in Thailand, which led to enterprise alternatives. I’d encourage different entrepreneurs to leverage what our help system can present.

Additionally, there are lots of issues that Singaporeans can provide to companies abroad due to our publicity to international MNCs (multinational firms) which have introduced their experience and finest practices to share with us.

Moreover, I’ve noticed that there’s a deep mutual respect between Thais and Singaporeans, which fosters belief and open communication.

I hope extra Singaporeans will discover alternatives within the Land of Smiles, change information, and pursue their entrepreneurial journey.



Mr Ong Zhang Quan, 29, is the co-founder of electrical motorbike agency Smooth EV. He’s an NUS Enterprise Faculty alumnus and travels to and from Thailand frequently for work. 

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