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True Incube’s Damien: We’re looking for founders who could die for their business!

Damien Durand
Damien Durand

Thailand is one of the most active countries in Southeast Asia with corporates’ activities in the startup world. Most of telcos and largest banks already have their own incubators or accelerators. And True, one of the three telcos, doesn’t want to be the audience. They have researched and started both incubator and corporate investment fun.

True is a subsidy of CP Group, one of the largest conglomerates in Thailand, with a great ability in pivoting into totally different business lines. CP had started as a seed trading store for Thai farmers in 1921, nearly one hundred years later, now they’re operating in 8 different businesses including food production, distribution, retail, telecommunication, property and finance investment. As a “son” of CP Group, True’s also inherited the pivoting capability. Due to True, there are forces of change they have to “gone with the wind” to survive

  1. “It’s the fast fish which eats the slow fish now”
  2. If you don’t create the things that will kill your company, someone else will

    When Apple launched the iPhone, it made the decision to cannibalize its Ipod sales. They have also watched at their Asian fellows to know what they’re doing

Asian telcos and investment activities
Asian telcos and investment activities

Let chat with Damien Durand, the manager of True Incube to learn more how would they try to “kill themselves” by leveraging the power of “fast fish startups”

  • When are the time for True Incube to receive application in 2017? How long is the process?

We will open the application registration for the first of the two 2017 batches end of January and we will be welcoming applications during the whole month of January. From this process, 15 teams will be selected and announced on March 3rd. After the 15 teams pitch, 5 teams will finally make the cut and be announced on March 20th. Finally, the program will start on March 31st. The whole process should then take two months. We will be welcoming applications with regard to our second 2017 batch late June and the program will start on September 1st for the selected startups.

  • How many startups True Incube and True Corporate VC will invest in 2017?

We will organize two batches of “Incubation and ScaleUp” Program in 2017, therefore incubating and funding about 10 startup incubatees in 2017. We are planning to make between 3 and 6 investments this year out of our Corporate VC fund too.

  • Can you share info about the newest batch?
  1. ARINCARE: workflow-integrated platform for healthcare and pharmaceutical companies
  2. Govivigo: trip plan sharing and one-stop-shop booking platform
  3. Kolla: recruiting marketplace for the service industry
  4. StoneLab: laboratory resource management platform
  5. Tunjai: sales and report solutions platform for retail
  • What are True Incube’s definition of great founders?

Founders that are so passionate they could die for their business. Also, we should be able to feel they have a strong vision.

It is about how well they can communicate and put into action their values, beliefs, and ideals in producing and creating something of value for themselves, their employees and customers. A founder’s vision should be the foundation of a company’s culture and brand.

  • Can you share more about the criteria for a good business model?

By having a valid business model I mean understanding how you are going to generate money and having a good sense of the gross and net margins at the creation of the company.

But other than that, the criteria we would look at:

  1. There is a need or demand for the service/product
  2. The barriers to entry are not too low
  3. A business where you have a real shot at being one of the top players – at least in the region you are targeting
  4. A business that is in a rapidly growing market
  5. The business is scalable
  • If founders are foreigners or they are just expanding to Thailand from another country, are they qualified to apply?

They are if they haven’t received any funding yet

  • What are the difference between True Incube and other corporate investment arms in Thailand? And what are the frequent activities that startups could join?
True Incube Demo Day
True Incube Demo Day

We are an end-to-end service provider to startups, basically providing services (training, mentoring, funding, support) suited to each stage of the development of the startups (ideation-stage, incubation, acceleration, investment-stage), which makes us unique. While the objective of our innovation and incubation programs is to help a significant number of startups to emerge, our Corporate venture arm is focused on building synergistic value with the startups and getting some returns on our investments. Because True aims at becoming the technology arm of CP, we aim at sourcing through our CVC fund very innovative and cutting-edge technology companies.

We organize our innovation workshops (suited to companies that do not especially have a product yet) six times a year and our “incubation and scaleup” (suited to companies that are about or have already achieved product/market fit) program two times a year.

  • About Product Market Fit, what are the KPI to measure they will have a considerable product market fit after graduated from True Incube program?

Tough to answer this question as it really depends on the stage and the nature of the activities of the startup.

  • I watched The Entrepreneur – Taeke Noi movie, featured an entrepreneur tried to sell his products in 7-Eleven stores. And it was a big boom for his company once he gained the approval to sell in the chain. So can you share a similar sample so startups know more about what would they get once they get accepted to True Incube.
Some of True Incube's external mentors
Some of True Incube’s external mentors

About to make an investment from our Corporate VC fund in a media/advertising company. We will provide them with free media content from True Media and True Vision, special Wifi and cloud packages, payment gateway through True Money Wallet and CRM services through True You.

  • How about Weloveshopping, iTrueMart, TrueMoney the trio eCommerce/Fintech units of True, could Ecommerce startups work with them?

Yes, even though Ascend was spun-off from True two years ago, Ascend still remains under CP group and will always be working very close to True. Therefore, True Incube’s portfolio companies can fully benefit from the capabilities of Ascend.

Some more information from True Incube & True’s VC arm

  • 8 sectors of interest: Ecommerce, Creative Content, Big Data & Analytics/SaaS, FinTech, Internet of Things, Digital Health or MedTech, Real Estate Tech, AgriTech or Food Tech.
  • Ticket Size (Comfort zone): between USD 100K and USD 2M
  • And one important thing that your startup doesn’t need to have revenue or profit at the moment.

Wanna grab one of their tickets??