We recently caught up with Jakob Lykkegaard Pedersen, a Bangkok-based entrepreneur and angel investor, who sold his first venture and has now embarked on a journey to build a global gaming venture from Thailand.Jakob moved to Thailand from Denmark and believes that there are tons of opportunities for entrepreneurs to innovate and build companies in Thailand.
Below are the excerpts from the conversation:
Venturing into Thai market
I first visited Thailand on a business trip. I loved this place, and really liked the people and open culture here. I also immediately sensed the huge opportunity for entrepreneurs in Thai market. That is when I decided to move to Thailand and set up my own venture here.
In 2010, a lot of Thai small business owners wanted to create Facebook pages for their businesses, but they did not have the tools to create beautiful graphics and maintain engaging fan pages. I saw a huge opportunity there and started Pagemodo.
Selling first startup to an American tech company
We managed to gain a lot of traction within a small period of time, and a US based company Webs.com reached out to us and acquired Pagemodo. It was very much unexpected. I never really thought of selling a Thai tech company to an American tech company. It was difficult to let go of Pagemodo, something that my team and I created from scratch. But we are glad we sold, because Webs.com was a great company to partner with. We redid the product with them post the acquisition and what came out in the end was much better than what we had initially. So I learned quite a bit about what to do and what not to do with my next venture via the Pagemodo acquisition.
Second startup Pocket Playlab
After Pagemodo exit, I started angel investing in a bunch of companies in Thailand. During this period, I met my future co-founder Thomas Andreasen who asked me to support him in his mobile gaming venture. I realized the huge opportunity in gaming space, and jumped into action along with him to start Pocket PlayLab. We are right now doing games for iPhone and Andriod, and are also doing some games for Facebook. We have released over 50+ games, are no.1 on the app store in Thailand.
Our next big launch this month is called Juice Cubes, about which we are very excited. The app is already out in some markets, and the initial response for has been great. It is a lot of fun and makes more sense business-wise if you build your own product. So we stopped doing services, and since the last one year have been focussed on building our own stuff.
Juice Cubes is like Candy Crush and Fruit Ninja meeting and having a baby. It is worldwide on Android, and on iOS in New Zealand, Australia and Thailand. By the end of this month, we plan to launch it worldwide on iOS as well.
Language barrier and other challenges
When I got here there were a lot of challenges. I still spend time reading the local language and trying to understand the local people better. I grew up in an environment where organizations are flat. I would say in Thailand there is some level of hierarchy, but managing teams becomes much easier when you put right people in right roles.
We are a team of 18 people right now. Most of our developers are from Thailand itself, but we also have few people from South Africa, England and Germany. It is never easy to hire good tech talent in Thailand, but once you get to know more and more people locally it becomes easier to hire.
The game developer ecosystem is not very matured in Thailand. There are not many gaming developers, and we want all the existing good ones to work with Pocket Playlab. We are striving to create a workplace where people dream to work.
Thai mobile market
“To get into position one or two on app store, all you need is about 10,000 downloads in Thailand market”
Startup ecosystem evolution
When I came here, there were no tech startups. I wasn’t even looking for any, because I knew not to expect anything. But since the last two years, the startup ecosystem has started booming. There are co-working spaces such as Hubba and many regular startup events. The best part of the Thai startup ecosystem is that everybody is so excited by the opportunity that exists here, and everybody is helping everybody. I meet startups every week and there is very little jealousy in this market.
Hubba, Launchpad and Ardent Capital are three pillars of the Thai market right now. These are the areas from where a lot of entrepreneurial activity can grow, and I am very excited by it!
To know more, visit http://pocketplaylab.com/blog/