In our second edition of The Asian Travelpreneur series, we speak with Mr. Amornched Jinda-apiraksa (Taro) who is currently the CEO & Co-founder of TakeMeTour, which is the largest online marketplace for local tours with more than 10,000 local experts from 45 cities across Thailand.
TravHQ: You co-founded TakeMeTour in 2014. Is that right?
Taro: Yes & No. TakeMeTour was founded in 2012 targeting Thailand’s outbound segment. We pivoted the concept to the current version of TakeMeTour (focus on Thailand’s inbound) in late-2014.
TravHQ: What is your background, do you come from the travel industry.
Taro: I have got a technical background which is totally different from travel & tourism. After receiving a masters degree in Robotics, I worked as a software engineer. At the same time, I co-founded TakeMeTour as a side-work to follow both of co-founders passion. Later on, I felt like I needed to learn & have more hands-on experience in business & management.
I moved to work as a senior online advertising & marketing specialist at Google Singapore, where I’ve got first-hand experience and learnt a lot about the business-world. Once TakeMeTour was about to secure seed funding, I moved back to Bangkok to hyper-focus on the business in order to leap it forward.
TravHQ: Tell us about the highs and lows at TakeMeTour during this 2 year old journey.
Taro: The high was when we reached the point where we had more than 10,000 registered & verified local experts from 45 cities (out of 77 in Thailand). We have managed to keep the local expert signup rate grow organically. Thanks to all of the press & media who have supported us. The low would be around the beginning phase, where most people still didn’t get what we were doing and how this could impact the travel industry as a whole.
TravHQ: You are currently funded by 500 TukTuks, dtac Accelerate, and Mr. Ittipat Peeradechapan. How did the opportunity come through?
Taro: It started when we were selected as a finalist of dtac Accelerate and joined the program for 4 months in 2015. We were introduced to many interested angels & VCs. This was when we got connected to 500 TukTuks & Mr. Ittipat.
TravHQ: The general perception is that the whole Startup ecosystem in Thailand isn’t as bright as Singapore. Your views?
Taro: People might perceive it that way. However, I think that Thai startup ecosystem is improving and developing very quick, especially in the past few years. There is currently many support coming from all related parties, i.e. government, banks & private sectors.
I can see that “startup” concept is widely known and discussed among many Thais, which wasn’t the case 3-4 years ago. The overall landscape might be behind Singapore in some aspects, e.g. law & regulations or investment. However, I feel like we are catching up and heading into the right way.
TravHQ: Other than TakeMeTour itself, which are your favorite travel startups.
Taro: Globally, I like Airbnb. I like the concept of sharing economy & utilizing the exceed resources. TakeMeTour is also considered as a sharing economy in services sector also.
TravHQ: As an entrepreneur, your biggest strength is?
Taro: Passionate & Creative thinker
TravHQ: and weakness would be …
Taro: Not coming out of travel background (this might be a strength in some sense)
TravHQ: Your advise to those thinking of doing a travel startup?
Taro: I’d advise them to validate their idea quick and just do it! It will definitely be very challenging, especially at the beginning. However, there are also large untapped market opportunities waiting for those who see them.
TravHQ: Looking back at the years, are you satisfied with where you are?
Taro: I’d say I’m satisfied with what we have achieved so far as a no.1 and the largest marketplace for local tours in Thailand. However, I also feel like we could do better, faster, and more efficient moving forward.
Mr. Amornched Jinda-apiraksa (Taro) is currently the CEO & Co-founder of TakeMeTour, which is the largest online marketplace for local tours with more than 10,000 local experts from 45 cities across Thailand. He takes a leading role in strategic planing, partnership, business developments, and marketing as well as managing the company’s daily operations. Prior to TakeMeTour, he was a senior advertising & marketing specialist at Google Singapore where he was training & coaching thousands of small & medium businesses (SMBs) to grow and succeed online. Prior to Google, he was a software engineer focusing in robotic research and published his work in various international journals. He holds a Masters Degree in Robotics from the Heriot-Watt University, the United Kingdom.
The featured conversation is a part of ‘The Asian Travelpreneur’ series. If you are a travel startup founder from Asia, and have an interesting story to share, send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.