The Start-Up Entrepreneur Series in collaboration with Entrepreneurs.my and E27, Singapore aims to inspire a new breed of Generation-Y entrepreneurs, showcasing success stories of entrepreneurs in the region who have succeeded despite their young age. We take a look at, OOKBEE, Thailand’s biggest ebook store on iOS and Android platform with more than 85 percent market shares of the local ebook market.
Tell us more about Your Company – What have you built? What is your product or service to your customers? What is your track-record so far?
My latest company is OOOKBEE. It’s Thailand’s biggest e-book store.
OOKBEE’s two most popular apps are “AIS bookstore” and “B2S e-book store”. Since the launch, both apps have been in the top 5 Top Grossing iPad Apps in the Thai Apple AppStore everyday for the past 14 months. Besides these two apps, OOKBEE has over 100 more apps on the App Store. OOKBEE now has 3 million downloads and 2.5 million users and is adding more than 5,000 new users everyday.
In September 2012, Ookbee raised US$2 million in funding from Shin Corporation (INTOUCH) for a 25 percent stake, valuing the company at a US$8 million. The investment is done through its venture capital arm, the INVENT program, which is the equivalent of SingTel Innov8 in Singapore.
Why did you decide to go into this business? Is it because it is a lucrative market? Is it a Blue Ocean which your talents and expertise through your business can provide?
Two years ago, when the first tablet just came out (iPad), I thought it would be nice if we could read all these local books and magazines on these tablets so we don’t have to carry them around. We also want them to be more than just plain old text and picture. We did market research and evaluate the opportunity of building the business on this idea. And in the end, we built OOKBEE to make the wish come true!
One of the thing we considered in that time was, will Thai people willing to spend money on digital content especially e-magazines and e-books considered that there are so many piracy going on with Thai movie and music content. We decided that the only way to know this is to try the market by offering the best experience from the supply side and see if there is any sales coming up from the demand side.
After several months, luckily, we found out that there is actually the market selling these digital publications in Thailand. Since then, we have grown our user-base constantly. Over 2.5M users had experienced the new way to consume their favorite magazines and books during the last 22 months.
Please share with us, when you established your organization during its early days – How did you fund it? Any tips on raising the funds? Any tips on convincing investors?
Back in mid 2010, Ookbee started out as a project in my another company, IT WORKS, which was doing outsourcing jobs for customers in the US and Japan. When we have an idea to start the project, we pulled several developers from the programming department and started it. The first six months the project was in the development phase and wasn’t released so we don’t have any income, we funded it by using other projects income and loans from founders.
By the 7th month the team grew to more than 15 people and we had our public product launch. The first 6 months after launched, the sales is not enough to cover the expenses but it’s growing fast so we still keep expanding the team to be over 20 people. By that time, my co-founders and I were putting in US$20K-30K a month from our personal savings to make things afloat.
We became cash flow positive by month 14th after starting the project and by month 16th we covered all our investment back.
Several months later, we were starting to look for VCs to raise money for more expansion. We knew that we have a profitable business with double-digit monthly growth so it’s the best time to raise the money. I think it’s better to raise the money when you know you can and not wait until you really need it because it might be too late.
You get higher valuation and can choose who you want to raise from when your business is in a good shape so it’s the best time to do.
Where do you see your business growing into, for the next 5 to 10 years?
I see Ookbee to be one of the regional leaders for digital content with operations in all countries across ASEAN. We are currently expanding to Vietnam and Malaysia as part of our regional expansion.
What is your vision for the industry that you are in? Do you see a trend coming up that your business can capitalize?
E-book consumption is still very low in the region. Currently, we are talking about the number lower than 1% of e-book consumption compared to physical book for this region. The number is 20% in the US and 5-8% in other developed countries and the trend is still growing. There is still a big opportunity in this area for us to grow.
To be Continued to Part 3 on the 12th of December 2012
### Special thanks to E27 as our supporting partner in bringing to us, the Start-Up Entrepreneur Interview Series ###
About The Start-Up Entrepreneur:
Moo Natavudh is a tech entrepreneur with over 12 years experience in founding, funding and managing tech companies in Thailand. He is currently the founder and CEO of OOKBEE (www.ookbee.com), Thailand’s biggest e-book store. Besides Ookbee, Moo also the founder and CEO of IT WORKS, one of the leading software companies in Thailand. OOKBEE was started as a project in this company and was spin-off in March 2012. Moo hold a BE in Aerospace Engineering from Kasetsart University and a ME in Industrial Engineering from Asian Institute of Technology.
About The Start-Up:
OOKBEE is Thailand’s biggest ebook store on iOS and Android platform with more than 85 percent market shares of the local ebook market. We currently have 2.5 million users all on mobile (within 22 months after launching) and currently adding around 5,000 new users a day. On Apple App Store, two of our best apps rank in the top 5 Top grossing iPad Application for Thailand for the past 400 days consecutively. We partnered with AIS (Telco) and B2S (Thailand leading bookstore) to offer e-book, magazine, newspaper for local readers. OOKBEE had just raised US$2 million in Sep 2012 from InVent valuing the company at US$8 million.
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