Ookbee claims that its content store has a dominant 85 percent share of Thailand’s e-publishing market, and it is moving outwards after extending its business into Vietnam and Malaysia last year. The deal with Singapore Press Holdings will not only see the company leap into Singapore but it will boost its presence in other markets too, Ookbee founder Natavudh Pungcharoenpong tells me via email.
“We will offer SPH titles in other countries where we are strong, like Thailand and Malaysia as well.”
SPH is a veritable media giant. Print is its core business and, to give an idea of its size, the group publishes 18 newspapers and more than 100 magazines across Southeast Asia; it claims a cumulative daily readership of 2.92 million. Ookbee is, of course, not focused on print and the deal will see more than 100 of SPH’s digital magazines come to the Ookbee store, while it will also develop a dedicated SPH app to house the content.
The rollout is a staged one and an initial 31 magazines will come to Ookbee in Feburary before the rest follow a month later.
Interestingly, the partnership could see Ookbee relocate its headquarters to Singapore in a move that could give it a more suitable base from which to build a regional business. Singapore has a number of advantages over Bangkok, and other locations in Southeast Asia, due to travel options, its business laws, the local investor community, and more.
Pungcharoenpong tells E27:
With this partnership, we plan to set up a branch office or relocate our headquarters to Singapore. We were considering doing that last year but since we didn’t have any operations here, we decided not to.
I recently said that Southeast Asia is the world’s most exciting location for startups and this deal represents a lot of my optimism. The last twelve months has seen more businesses thinking regionally — as Ookbee is — and getting out of their domestic markets to grow pan-Southeast Asian businesses, rather than staying in the comfort zone and dominating their native countries.
Ookbee is one of Thailand’s most notable startups right now. The company recently raised $2 million in funding to fuel its expansion and as it goes regional it is likely to attract the attention of investors and suitors from other markets, and Singapore in particular.
Pungcharoenpong is keeping quiet on the next steps but, with SPH on board, the company may be able to lean on its influential new partner when entering new countries. That’s sure to give it a helping hand with its continued growth.
Two-year-old Ookbee says that the content it has created serves more than 1.5 million users. As of September, that figure was growing at a rate of 5,000 per day.
Headline image via ROSLAN RAHMAN/Staff