Thailand GameChanger had a great conversation with Piyawat Sangpraserkrid, a co-Founder and the Chief Marketing Officer of Verily Vision in our studio at True Digital Park. Piyawat says that his first life-changing experience was going on an exchange program during high school in Arizona. He notes that before he went to Arizona, he was like many other Thai kids that grew up in a conservative household with deep family values and a strong work ethic. He also felt like he was a bit nerdy and inward-looking, not so comfortable speaking out and speaking up.
Piyawat’s time in the US was defined by self-discovery, increased self-confidence, and more comfort in social situations. He learned that when one travels one is exposed to new situations, different perspectives, and new experiences.
After graduating from high school back in Thailand, Piyawat went to Mahidol University and studied finance. It was during his third year and University that he and his friends realized that there was a lot of good research being done in Thailand and yet very little of it was getting turned into commercially viable products. They saw this as an opportunity and Verily Vision was founded to address and remedy this situation.
Verily Vision’s first product was actually quite interesting. Durian is a very popular and tasty fruit in Southeast Asia but it is hard to tell when it is ripe enough to eat. If you clicked the durian link above you can see that it is prickly and spikey on the outside so it is hard to determine by touching it whether or not it is ripe. Verily Vision set out to create a machine that could inspect the durian with a microwave sensor to activate the data inside the fruit. The initial results were very promising with visions (no pun intended) of taking over the entire durian market in Asia. Alas, the technology was not sufficient to scale this product and the team had to shut it down.
This was troubling for many reasons, not the least of which was the fact that Piyawat’s mom would have preferred that he had taken a more secure corporate job upon graduation from Mahidol University. The development was hard as he had to travel for 2 or 3 hours to his partners’ university to sleep on the floor of the lab while they were trying to build the durian inspection machine. This was very hard for Mom to understand.
When that first product had to be stopped, the original excitement turned to demoralization and one of the original founding members actually left the firm to take a corporate job. However, as with all good and successful companies, Verily Vision’s luck started to change. At a networking event, the CEO ran into a friend that was experiencing a pain point that he believed technology could solve and he was asked if his team at Verily Vision could solve it. Like all great CEOs, he took the risk and said, “Yes.” which eventually led to Verily Vision’s first successful product.
Listen to the entire episode to hear about the ups and downs of building a company from scratch in Thailand, managing through COVID-19, and how Verily Vision continues to thrive in a time of crisis.
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