dtac accelerate: A story of dedication, passion, and doing things bigger than ourselves.
If you think that we’re doing this for the money, you couldn’t be more wrong.
Life at dtac accelerate started 3 years and 5 months ago when I took a chance to move from Garena to here. I wasn’t looking for a job, the job came to me. I knew P’ Note back in 2012 when I was in sophomore year and attended Hubba’s very first “Startup Weekend”. While working on my second year at Garena, P’ Note said hi. He was looking for a marketer and asked if I know anyone who would be interested. I don’t know if it’s his strategy, but I fell for it and applied myself. I was charmed by P’ Jane, and later by P’ Meng during the interviews. Months later, I find myself sitting in this new co-working space taking up a seat at Health at Home’s table (a startup I never heard of) and trying to remember the names of my new colleagues.
I started towards the end of batch 4. Where I get to experience my very first Demo Day — dtac accelerate style. The event was hosted at W Hotel with around 400 attendees. I was inspired right away by the passionate founders pitching their ass off and answering these hellish tough questions from the judges. I wasn’t doing much on the day, just a few this and that like a useless blob who happens to wear a dtac accelerate t-shirt. But I was proud, I was proud to be a part of it.
My first full batch. When I first interviewed at dtac accelerate, everything seemed normal. Little did I know, P’ Jane was pregnant… and dtac gives a 6-months maternity leave. Yes, you read that right — 6. She equipped me with as many weapons and armour as she could during the short 3 months before the next batch, it was as if I’m attending a personal acceleration program myself.
Then batch 5 started. The whole team was super supportive of me. Guiding me through the processes while allowing me to pitch in ideas, giving me the freedom to explore, and answering my questions. I knew that in order to gain their trust, I must first earn it. I started to explore the fundamentals of starting a startup, learning from global accelerators such as Y Combinator, listen to talks from top tech ecosystem drivers in Thailand. There is definitely a huge opportunity for Thai startups and I became immersed in the idea of supporting them.
I decided to start talking to the startup founders in our portfolio, to see where we can further improve our program. One sentence that struck me was from P’ Nat Zmyhome, who said,
“If there is no dtac accelerate, there won’t be Zmyhome today.”
It seems like a normal sentence you might here in inspirational talks referring to some mentor elsewhere. But when that sentence was directed straight to you (dtac accelerate), it gave a whole new meaning. How fulfilling must it have been to know that you are a part of building someone’s dream?
I smiled, but my heart smiled wider.
I thought this is going to become the same pattern as batch 5, and that I would eventually get bored of the loop I’ll be stuck in. That is definitely not the case.
Every startup is different, every founder is different. Being able to meet these founders every day is my ultimate perk of the job. There’s something about them. Their determination, their passion, and most importantly their craziness. These guys are completely out of their minds! Who, in their right mind, would quit a CIO job of a global bank to start something from scratch ?— P’ Jet Finnomena did. Who, in perfect mental condition, would quit being a doctor and start a company (also persuading his highly paid banker friend to become his co-founder)? — P’ Tum Health at Home did. You get me right? I sit in this comfortable salary seat with guaranteed fixed income every month looking at all these amazingly talented people striving for results of their company. I was stunned. But I knew exactly what I wanted to do.
Batch 6 is the first batch we decided to scale up our Demo Day by moving to GMM Livehouse. Last year there were 600 attendees and the hotel ballroom couldn’t accommodate the guests, so we decided to level up our game. If we were to become the flagship event where global investors who are interested in investing in Thailand mark on their calendars, then we’ll have to step out of our own comfort zone. 1,000 attendees — that’s our target.
Batch 6 startups were a pain. Yes, you guys have to admit that you are a pain hahaha. Most of the startups in batch 6 are very early stage, and this is probably one of their first pitching stages. This, the GMM Livefreakinghouse concert hall with 10m long curved screen. It was ginormous and P’ Jane and I were biting our nails hoping that the startups wouldn’t freak out while they pitch.
In the end, it was all worthwhile. They pitched, they answered, they conquered.
Batch 7 — our last batch
I didn’t know it was going to be our last batch when it started. If I did, I would’ve taken way more photos.
With a win-win strategy of cutting costs and me having fun, I decided to MC most of the small events in this batch myself. I love dressing up, so Viking Pitch Clinic is first on my list. That was my first-time MC-ing with such a professional co-host as P’ Pippo. His energy really brings out mine and I was so drawn into the fun side of the force. Next is Pitch day. I always love pitch day. P’ Note refers to pitch day as the most important day of the year — even more crucial than Demo Day. This is because pitch day will determine who will become our next batch, in other words, who will be joining our growing family this year. I was excited to see who will be our babies this year.
I knew that something is probably going to happen to dtac accelerate next year around May. It was uncertain, but there were signs. I set aside the worries and focus on the work, hoping for the best.
The bootcamp went on with this uncertainty always at the back of my mind. So I decided to pay extra attention to class as if it was my last. I always appreciated our amazing mentors and speakers. It’s phenomenal how we can bring in top instructors from a local and international scale. There was this one time we went to dinner with Nir Eyal, the author of “Hooked” and “Indistractable”. When we finished dinner, we walked over to a bookshop nearby hoping to show him his translated-in-Thai book. It was sold out, probably by the batch 7 peeps who wanted him to sign their book that day. But what amazed me is when he walked over to the best-selling books and started pointing at different books saying, “The author of this book is great at teaching business, if you want to contact him let me know. Oh, this is also a great book, she’s a good friend of mine and would also make a great mentor.” This continues on about 4–5 books and by then it struck me how lucky I am to be inches away from an internationally well-known best selling author, who knows my name! Dude, it was mind-blowing.
This year we continued to host our Demo Day at GMM Livehouse. By August, we knew with 83% certainty that this would be our last. Imagine having to work on something you love so much, knowing that this would be the last time you’ll get to do it. Now imagine being a super-sensitive cry-baby, that’s me. I poured my heart and soul into the event. Not just me, the whole team did, P’ Meng, P’ Jane, P’ Note, Tum, P’ Aom, even P’ Toom and P’ Aime who were so busy with all the documents and legal contracts. Refining every detail possible, fixing things to near perfection, all with the startups' priorities in mind.
I know we can’t have favourites, but I think this is the best Demo Day we’ve ever done. It’s the collection of all the lessons learned from the past 7 years, all the successes and failures, all the praises and mistakes. Combined with all the things we wanted but was always scared to do. We went all in, the startups went all in, and the audience definitely felt it.
It was a great ending of a great journey.
Here we are on the very last day of my time here at dtac accelerate. I would like to take this time to thank my whole team for being one of the best teams I could work with. P’ Meng, for giving me the trust, the support, the license to fail. For making this a family, not a workplace. P’ Note, for always taking care of me and the whole team, and being the one who always brings us together. P’ Jane, for teaching me so many things in life. I have learned so much from working with P’ Jane. She is exactly what I need at the exact time, and has given me the trust I always wanted. Tum, my partner in crime, who has taught me way more than I have taught him. It’s great to know that I once worked with someone who I think is most compatible with me. P’ Aime, this amazingly talented lawyer who has a much bigger heart than any other. She is by far, is the most generous lawyer I have seen. P’ Aom, who breaks all rules of colleagues and bonded us together as friends. P’ Toom, who always look out for the whole team. Being the true mother of the family. P’ Muay, my first colleague here who always put others before herself. And Lastly, Sing, our talented intern who I see a bright future ahead of her.
For all I know, it would be tough to find a team as dedicated to their jobs as much as we did. It was a shame that we had to end our mission this way. Life always has its own reasons and I’m still hoping for the best. I am grateful for whatever it is that brings me to this place and to get to know these people.
I hope we can live on in your memories.
Thank you everyone, for making this the best years of my life. Thank you team, thank you startups, thank you mentors, thank you speakers, thank you partners, thank you sponsors.
I know one thing for a fact, I will never walk alone…