“What Makes or Breaks A Startup?” The Viewpoint of Defire—The Winning Team of SCG Bangkok Business Challenge @ Sasin 2022 – Thailand Competition.

Date: 18 Apr 2022

Imagine youre running a marathon where everyone is tied to each other on a path with a hole every 50 meters. You must all get up with your teammates every time and learn from each fall how painful it is, how to better deal with the upcoming holes, and how to take the whole team to the finishing line together.” That’s the definition of a startup in the view of Theethat Rangkasiri (Erk), CEO, Defire from the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) – the winner of SCG Bangkok Business Challenge @ Sasin 2022, Thailand Competition.

The massive growth of Thailand’s startup industry and the emergence of home-grown “unicorns,” such as Flash Group and Bitkub, in recent years have inspired many students to embark on this path. Today, Defire from the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), the winner of SCG Bangkok Business Challenge @ Sasin 2022, Thailand Competition, Asia's longest-running global student startup competition hosted by SCG Chemicals (SCGC), Chemicals business for sustainability, and Sasin School of Management. They are here to share with us their experience going through each round and tell us about their source of motivation to kindle passion for those looking to take up startups professionally.

Diverse skillsets united by a common goal: Defires perfect combination
Defire consists of three members: Theethat Rangkasiri (Erk), Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Pattrarat Tangnisaitrong (Patter), Chief Business Development Officer (CBDO), and Wasanchai Vongsantivanich (View) Chief Technology Officer (CTO), with Prof.Nophea Sasaki as the advisor.

“It all began with our interest in social and environmental problems. Our team focuses on the problem of urban dust and air pollution. There’s more to it than meets the eye, and we hoped to dig down and find the root cause. Thats the origin of Defire, a carbon credit platform that seeks to reduce crop burning.
 

Stop Hunger, Stop Fire…: Ending hunger and environmental problems
“Stop hunger, stop fire. We hope that once farmers enjoy better quality of life, they will be better equipped to take care of the environment around them.” It is this seemingly simple statement that has driven Defire to take on this project.

We believe that in order to tackle environmental problems, especially crop burning, we need to first solve the problem of hunger. As long as they are still hungry and are still living from hand to mouth, do you think they’ll care about the environment? Along the same vein, would we care more about the environment than our family and our children’s tuition fees? This is something we need to keep in mind when putting Defire together,” said Defire CEO, Theethat Rangkasiri (Erk).

Defire CTO, Wasanchai Vongsantivanich (View) stated, “Defire’s business model is unique in terms of both the business itself and technology. We utilize carbon credits and pollution reduction as an incentive for farmers to stop burning their crops.”

The ultimate goal of Defire’s business model is to stop hunger and improve the quality of life for farmers, which, the team believes, will prompt them to improve their farming methods to be more climate-conscious.

Seeking a shortcut to exponential business growth
“Defire’s concept was well-defined, but its weakness was the business side. We believed joining SCG Bangkok Business Challenge @ Sasin would be a way for us to gain exponential growth at a much faster pace than learning on our own elsewhere.”

Admittedly, what we have gained from SCG Bangkok Business Challenge @ Sasin 2022 far exceeded our expectations. We thought that it would help us better refine our business model, but we got to learn about technicality and feasibility from expert judges. The judges were not only experts on business but were also knowledgeable in various disciplines and thus were able to give us comprehensive feedback, which allowed to move forward farther and much faster,” said Defire CBDO, Pattrarat Tangnisaitrong (Patter) of the teams initial expectations.
 

What makes or breaks a startup?
“Startups are enterprises that fail fast and learn fast and are born out of ideas.” For Defire, there are two key factors that determine the success of startups in Thailand. The first factor is the founder. Running a startup is demanding, so the founder has to be both a thinker and a doer; they have to think and take action at all times, which is very challenging. Only a determined and passionate founder can bring it to fruition. The second factor is the ability to learn and grow from failures and comments. “As a startup entrepreneur, you must have at least either come face to face with investors or joined a competition. Your startup must have been rejected or criticized in some way. If you keep wallowing in the disappointment, you won’t be able to get anywhere,” said Defire CBDO, Pattrarat Tangnisaitrong (Patter).

A message to future contestants in SCG Bangkok Business Challenge @ Sasin next year
For me, passion, determination, and focus are essential. I’d like to invite those who truly believe in what they are putting out and are willing to prove that it is feasible to apply to the competition instead of working on it all by themselves. By competing, you get to prove whether the idea is feasible for others. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain,” concluded Defire CTO, Wasanchai Vongsantivanich (View).

If you are a student who is ready to join the startup arena just as Defire – Sustainable did, you can learn more details about SCG Bangkok Business Challenge @ Sasin at https://bbc.sasin.edu/2022

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About Defire

Defire is a platform that incentivizes farmers to stop burning croplands and crop residue using carbon credits. The platform combines AI, IoT, and remote sensing technologies to detect and alert the presence of fires. It harnesses technology to tackle the issue of crop burning in a sustainable manner, as well as to reduce air pollution and global warming while improving farmers’ livelihoods.