Interview with Delta Angel Fund Winner: Dr. Denchai Woradechjumroen
Over the last six years, Delta Thailand and the Department of Industrial Promotion (DIP) at the Ministry of Industry have developed the Angel Fund into a robust platform to create business value by fostering local startups in smart industrial and energy-related applications.
From 2016 to 2021, Delta has provided over 19 million THB of funding to 180 winning teams to help them succeed as pioneers of Thailand’s economic and social transformation.
One big success story from the Delta Angel Fund for Startups is 2018 winner Dr. Denchai Woradechjumroen, CEO of TIE Smart Solutions, who leveraged business strategies and practical skills honed at the contest to build a thriving smart building solutions business.
We caught up with this ambitious young professor turned entrepreneur to hear how he successfully brought his building ventilation and HVAC solutions to the market while carving out a niche as Thailand’s Digital Building Doctor.
Can you please tell us about your solution and your company-TIE Smart Solutions?
TIE Smart Solutions Co., Ltd. was established in 2018 and specializes in ventilation and air conditioning systems, especially in large systems for buildings and factories. The advent of Industry 4.0, integrated AI and IoT systems enables us to do industrial process optimization, quality control and equipment failure diagnosis in machines.
Our expertise and experience have made us a leader in Automated Commissioning, Energy Optimization Solutions, and Energy Management Information Systems (EMIS) in Thailand. We also offer consultation to many leading organizations with a strong focus on energy efficiency and maintenance for sustainable equipment lifespan.
We believe that today TIE Smart Solutions is the first choice in Thailand for those who are interested in improving their buildings or factories in energy management and optimization aspects.
How did you get involved with the Delta Angel Fund, and how has it helped you develop your solution and grow your business?
TIE Smart Solutions has been involved with the Delta Angel Fund since our founding. During the competition, we learned the Business Model Canvas principle and how to carry our innovation from prototype to commercial product. This involves many steps, including market validation and market adoption through an incubation program.
Even today, we continue to get new networking opportunities with other local startup companies through the Delta Angel Fund alumni reunion program. In addition, we get help to prepare for fundraising from Thailand's leading VC (venture capital) investors as we learn how to expand to the Southeast Asia regional market over the next two years.
Since adjusting our business model, TIE Smart Solutions has grown and gained recognition by leading contractors in Thailand by installing an intelligent energy management system on top of their building automation solutions (BAS) and chiller plant manager system (CPMS). We are now in talks to expand into Vietnam’s IoT market and green building market.
What is the growth potential for the building automation solutions market in Thailand, and how do you see the industry evolving?
Green building market in Thailand
The green building and smart city trends are spurring continuous growth in Thailand’s BAS market at a rate of at least 13-15% each year. Yet despite strong growth, BAS contractors in Thailand are still limited in terms of quality and performance.
Although local contractors have imported several BAS controllers from developed markets, they do not understand how to design suitable BAS control diagrams and data utilization for guaranteed energy savings is still in its infancy.
To resolve these issues, TIE has been developing a freemium platform service that offers customers:
This free service provides up to one week of BAS and HVAC evaluation in buildings and factories. After evaluation, we propose our AI platform solutions consisting of:
Why is collecting and using data in IoT solutions the key to making Thailand’s factories and buildings more efficient?
TIE Data integration platform for building and factory optimization
In today’s information age, data is a key ingredient to success. The power of IoT is in its ability to capture data in real-time and quickly synthesize it. However, it’s important to remember that all this data means nothing unless you can turn it into intelligence, and then action.
With the correct architecture, IoT can help transform data into useful information to help managers determine what actions they should take next. Thailand’s factories and buildings consume huge amounts of energy every day; thus, insightful information definitely helps to take their energy management to next level.
Congratulations on your fast-growing business! What are the key success factors for your company’s rapid growth and scale up over the last four years?
EMS or BAS market in the world
Market validation and proper revenue models are our key success factors. TIE develops a content analysis method for deep tech market validation and improved revenue models for BAS market penetration to achieve these two factors.
BAS utilization for green building in Thailand
In Thailand, we mapped out the BAS business limitations in terms of operator-based and contractor-based performance in market validation. As a result, we identified BAS control design as the main issue causing optimization control limitations.
Armed with this information, we bundled our TIE-MIS and TIE-CON module together with potential BAS contractors like Jardine Engineering Corporation (JEC) and GIS GROUP to offer complete AI control optimization, including BAS improvement and guaranteed energy saving.
Today, we see our revenue model reaching at least 20M THB in 2022. This is three times our 2020 revenue! We also expect our valuation to increase with our successful Series A funding of more than 500M THB that was evaluated by our seed-stage investor Ensol Co, Ltd.
What exciting projects are you involved in now, and how is it helping your customers?
Chiller plant optimization for four branches of Robinson Lifestyle centers
TIE has signed an MOU and partnership agreement with Thai renewable energy leader BCPG Public Company to expand its market share in the chiller plant manager systems (CPMS) optimization segment and thus gain leadership beyond the solar power plant segment.
Our new TIE and BCPG collaboration was awarded contracts by Robinson Lifestyle to replace existing CPMS at four locations and to install EMIS and AI optimization control to save 10% of chiller plant power consumption by August 2022. Robinson Department Store is also planning to expand our solution to another 20 shopping centers across Thailand.
AI and EMIS process by TIE – Root Cause Diagnostics with Ensol Co., Ltd
By the end of 2021, Ensol Co., Ltd, an energy consultant and service provider, invested in TIE to transform their consultancy services into a one-stop-service with intelligent solutions using our TIE platform and products.
Currently, Ensol is joining TIE in providing freemium and solution services for innovative command diagnostic and control solutions at two Lotus stores. The large and medium-scale pilot sites will trial for energy-saving evaluation until June 2022 before scaling the solution to another 200 stores in Thailand.
SET project diagram
In 2022, TIE will expand the scope of our products at the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) to include the installation of an AIoT platform to interface and control existing BAS for 12 floors for 15% energy saving of VAV AHU systems. This project is planned to serve as a model building for the ESG100 index and set the stage for future collaboration between TIE and SET in 2023.
Smart BIM for green building certification
Our latest production collaboration is a joint venture between TIE and Africvs Co.Ltd (the best green building auditor in Thailand) to provide a novel green building service. The service will enable IoT and BIM (building information modeling) that utilizes green building data for facility management among 200 commercial buildings of the Africvs customer database. The first project will launch in mid-2022 at the Thai Health Promotion Foundation building.
What are the biggest challenges Thai startups face, and how can businesses help create a better innovation ecosystem for industrial solutions?
While hundreds of new Thai startups launch every day, only a few can survive after a year. They face many obstacles, such as a lack of financial mindset, insufficient R&D innovation, improper marketing strategy and poor English proficiency.
The high number of startups in Thailand creates fierce competition with top players dominating the market. Successful startups need to have a lot of creativity and innovation. There are always opportunities available but newcomers must do proper research on their industry niche to stand out from the rest!
What is your best advice for Thai entrepreneurs looking to pitch their idea to an Angel Fund and find good business sponsors and partners for growth?
Representing Thailand to present our solutions to the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi
It’s very important to have a clear pitch of your idea for investors or business partners. In a short time, you need to make a great first impression. So it’s a good idea to spend a lot of time doing research on the investors themselves and what they have invested in previously. Use visuals such as a PowerPoint presentations that can add to and illustrate the points you’re making.
Remember, just because you get turned down at meeting after meeting doesn’t necessarily mean that your idea or presentation is flawed. The more you present your idea, the more feedback you’ll get. Meanwhile, you’ll only get better at speaking in front of audiences and delivering your presentation.
How can Delta Angel Fund innovations help build a better future for Thailand?
From Delta Angel Fund to our fundraising stage in 2020
The Delta Angel Fund is one fund in Thailand that supports prototypes or expands commercial applications for early stage deep tech startups. The fund not only helps to finance but also provides lean methodology know-how. These can provide opportunities for innovative Thai startups to scale up from the idea or prototype stage into commercialization.
With the support from the Delta Angel Fund, many startups have successfully launched a commercial product to replace imported products and reduce energy savings. This leads to more GDP growth for Thailand. Without this practical support, our dreams can’t become a reality.