Nicky Surapaitoon, Tapp Commerce

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“My background is in pharmaceutical. Typically when you graduate in this field in Thailand you don’t really have much choice, either you work in the hospital, a factory or a pharmacy and eventually you’ll end up with your own pharmacy. After working in a pharmacy for sometime, I decided to start my own so I presented a proposal to the owner of Villa Market. I was asked to open 4 booths right away but I only had money for one. I negotiated more time and eventually built a chain of 10 pharmacies, which I sold 2 years ago. I loved it but it completely took over my life so at some point I had to stop. About 5 years ago, I got involved in tech and helped launch and run several companies. What I love about being an entrepreneur is that it’s so energizing. Every day I wake up and I am excited to go to work. Even on a bad day, I know tomorrow will be better and there is going to be something new.”
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“In the tech start up world, people get involved in so many things. It’s a new sector and the rules of the game keep on changing so you always have to keep on doing and innovating. It’s important to fully understand your business and its value chain and explore synergies and collaboration with others. For example, when I worked with Easy Taxi I also worked with Diageo Moet Hennessy, the Metropolitan Police Bureau and the Thai Traffic Police on a CSR project called ‘Don’t drink and drive campaign’. That gave us a lot of PR. You need to try to find something that works not only for you but for you business partners as well. That will strengthen your reputation.”
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“It sounds very easy when people say ‘Just do it’. Before launching your own business, you need to do your homework and have a clear strategy. You need to know your product, your target market, gauge demand and supply, build your team and be ready to launch and execute. No point in launching and doing lots of marketing if your product is not ready and if you are not ready to serve people. Word of mouth is still the most important thing and beats any other form of marketing. You need to be able to meet expectations so be honest to your customers and don’t overpromise.”
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“The most difficult thing to learn is to let go. Let go of the business when it’s not going well and let go of some people that even if you like on a personal basis might not work out as colleagues. Learn to let go and accept that even if you want to do everything there will always be someone that can do certain things better than you and should be allowed to so.”
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“You cannot always grab the first person that wants to work with you. You have to wait until you find the right one. And don’t expect them to give 100% unless you do it yourself first. Roll up your sleeves and work with them, show them that you can actually do those things not just ask them to do it.”
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“When I was younger, I wanted my colleagues to feel like family but now that I am older and wiser, it’s not longer the case. Families fight but they stick together not matter what because they love each other. I want to build the A team, the dream team. You can have lots of fun together but you need to produce and if that doesn’t work out, you have to let go and part ways.”

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