SKOOTAR is an app that allows small business owners to quickly hire professional messengers. These messengers are experienced couriers who can carry checks to deposit, bring important documents between needed parties, and request needed signatures. It’s more efficient than finding a messenger yourself and safer than using the standard motorcycle transport found around Bangkok.
Name: Boyd Pathompakawan
If anyone can consider themselves a serial entrepreneur it’s SKOOTAR’s founder Suwatt “Boyd” Pathompakawan. Boyd comes from a family of entrepreneurs, his dad owns 7-8 businesses (Boyd confesses he’s never able to keep track). When Boyd was younger, he was clear about wanting to be a business owner. It was just a matter of finding out what business.
After working as an engineer in Denmark for several years, Boyd opened up a furniture company in Bangkok. When he struggled with finding clients outside of Bangkok, he retargeted his market to a local hotel chain that required new furniture on a regular basis.
Despite the success of the business, Boyd was getting bored and wanted to branch into something new. So, he looked into opening a small hotel. When viewing a property, the landlord offered to sell him her restaurant. While hesitant, she offered a compelling deal. Rather than a single payment, he could pay installments as part of the rent. For a restaurant that was less than a year old, it was hard to refuse.
His only problem? Boyd didn’t have any experience running a restaurant.
But, Boyd is an entrepreneur. Rather than turning it down, he decided to think a bit outside the box. He called a friend in Denmark that put him in touch with her sister, who was a professional chef. He offered to take her on as a partner if she would handle the food side of the business (such as setting up the menu and food services) and he would handle the other aspects. She thought it over and agreed.
It worked out so well, they quickly opened a second location.
Running these businesses (along with a blind massage parlor on the side) put Boyd in constant contact with a specific problem. He would have errands that needed to get done, such as depositing a check, getting vital documents in the hands of his clients, getting needed papers from certain customers, it all required his attention. It was too important to put off, but it didn’t occur often enough to bring in an employee to assist him with it. The problem didn’t just affect him, but almost every small business owner in Bangkok.
So, he and a few co-founders designed an app to deal with this issue. They submitted their plans to the local Hackathon (and won).
An investor even approached them. He said that if they were still in business after a year, he would happily give them funding for their business.
Boyd found his business idea because he kept his eyes open. It was a constant pain in his side to deal with running the errands. So, when brainstorming of problems to solve (rather than a business to start) he thought, why not start with what was bothering him right now.
An App’s Growth
One of the major reasons that Boyd wanted to break into the app market is because of the ability they have to grow. Growing a normal business takes a large amount of time, especially when you’re required to open new locations. There’s finding the real estate, stocking your inventory, and hiring staff.
But apps and other tech startups have an ability to grow much faster than a traditional brick and mortar business. Gaining five thousand new users won’t stress your supplies like five thousand new customers might to a typical retail store. It’s easier to grow, and because anyone with an internet connection can access it, it tends to expand faster.
That’s an important thing to consider whether you’re working on your own business or considering a move into a new industry. A technology based startup, especially one where the product is an app or software, will have the ability to expand faster. That doesn’t make it a better choice, necessarily, but it’s important to take into account.
Going Against Competitors
SKOOTAR is not the only app of its kind in Bangkok. There are a few competitors. But, SKOOTAR does quite well for itself. In fact, it has so many clients that they’re consistently looking to bring on more messengers.
One of the factors that gives SKOOTAR its success?
They don’t compete on price.
When you have competitors, it can be very tempting to offer a lower price to drum up more customers. However, this simply causes a race to the bottom between everyone involved.
Instead, understand your customer and meet as many of their needs as possible. Be such a good choice that a small price difference isn’t an issue.
For Boyd, this means offering features that appeal especially to their B2B clients. Their messengers are experienced professionals, who know exactly what to do with their charges. Users have the option to set up multiple drop locations, so they don’t have to hire multiple messengers. And, SKOOTAR is invoice able, which makes it much simpler for a business to keep track of their expenses within the app.
They weren’t industry defining differences, but they set Boyd’s app apart as a professional experience. And his clients were more than willing to pay for that extra level of professionalism.