Business comes from opportunity. It can be either opportunity offered by others or self-made one. This column features the talk with young entrepreneur, Mr. Pawoot Pongvitayapanu, Managing Director and Founder of Rakuten TARAD.com. He created “Opportunity” from being inspired by an addiction and fascination in online game and technology. Today Mr. Pawoot is a Young Startup who transformed game online addiction into one of the most successful E-commerce businesses in Thailand. He is also named “E-commerce Guru” of Thailand. Find out what is the passage to success of Rakuten TARAD.com including Mr. Pawoot’s philosophy of life from this column.
Q: How did you transform online game to E-commerce business?
Mr. Pawoot: “I am a guy who likes and has fascination in technology. 16 years ago, from an online game mania, I came up with an idea of how to build “market” in online world to be a center of trade and merchandise. I then worked with a group of friends and established haisecondhand.com website, one of the first online merchandise trading websites which gathered sellers, buyers, and a variety of merchandises from every part of Thailand. It became a place for people to conveniently buy and sell their merchandises.”
Moving to International Level E-commerce
Mr. Pawoot: “In 2009, we collaborated with Rakuten, Inc., Japan’s number one online shopping website, we aimed at leveraging online shopping website or E-commerce and making it number one of ASEAN. The collaboration led to knowledge and technology transfer. The website was on world-class technology platform. There was also knowledge and technology transfer of new technology cluster, database, and security. This is considered business’ competitive advantage for Thai E-commerce business collaborating with world-class companies. Apart from knowledge and technology transfer, we were supported in terms of technical problem solution by a team of experts from Japan. This truly creates confidence and uplifts the standard to be comparable to other countries worldwide.”
Q: Viewpoint on Role and Direction of E-commerce Business in Moving towards Digital Economy?
Mr. Pawoot: “For me, another responsibility is being President of Thai E-Commerce Association which is an organization formed by private sector’s entrepreneurs which allows the share of knowledge, experience, and communication with public sector. I and the association drafted E-commerce business plan and submitted it to Government in hoping that Government can encourage E-commerce enterprise to boost up more services, create more opportunities for both sellers and buyers, stimulate the country’s economy, and build promising opportunity of trade for people in remote area. These are part of Digital Economy Framework drive.”
“The coming of ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) compliments E-commerce business because purchasing power in ASEAN is rather high. Also as ASEAN countries have similar consumption cultures, trade opportunity is high. As same as tarad.com’s aim of becoming number one in ASEAN E-commerce business, “Unique Selling Point” strategy is used. Sellers can freely display their products. For example, products with package written in English can be sold to countries with English as major language namely Singapore, Philippines, and Malaysia. Halal food can be sold in Islamic countries e.g. Malaysia and Indonesia. For Thailand, exotic products are highlighted such as herbs, O-TOP products, and Thai food. This is considered innovation of online trading which customers can buy or sell with just a single click. With many branches such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and Taiwan, I am confident that Rakuten TARAD.com can be number one in ASEAN. If we can create our unique identity, competition in global level is no longer difficult.” “At that time there were some E-commerce businesses in the market. But what I did came purely from my fascination and enjoyment. It was not an E-commerce business for me. After the establishment of thaisecondhand.com, in 2001, www.tarad.com was established. The feedback was marvelous. Many merchandises of every type from IT gadgets, electronic appliance, local products are being traded online. At the moment we have approximately 240,000 stores online, with over 4 million merchandises.”