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This article was published on January 17, 2008

LetsProve tries to get Thailand out of the Web 1.0 era

LetsProve tries to get Thailand out of the Web 1.0 era
Ernst-Jan Pfauth
Story by

Ernst-Jan Pfauth

Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He a Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He also served as The Next Web’s blog’s first blogger and Editor in Chief, back in 2008. At De Correspondent, Ernst-Jan serves as publisher, fostering the expansion of the platform.

Five Questions for Start-upsEvery week we publish an interview with a start-up. We ask five questions, hoping the answers will give you inspiration and new views. Well, actually six questions, since we also ask the start-up to who he or she is passing the mic.

This week, we’re interviewing Peerapong Pulpipatnan (Pete). He lives in Thailand and is actually some sort of pioneer there. He told us that there are hardly any Web 2.0 services in his country and that he would like to change that. So he started LetsProve Where. A service that makes it possible for people to give visual updates on where they are. Ok, I must admit, He’s not the first one who comes up with a service like that. Yet, I really like his vision and story, so that’s why I asked him the five start-up questions. You simply cannot ignore the people who try make a difference in their country.

How did you come up with the idea of LetsProve Where?

Question number“I’ve watched many interesting movies such as Final Cut, Deja Vu and Minority Report. In each movie, they have tools to record every persons activity automatically. Everyone has their own travel- and activity log so that you can track basically anyone’s activity.

I was impressed by the idea of recording a persons life so I started thinking about how to do such a thing. Of course it wasn’t possible to record everything, since that would be a violation of privacy terms. I chose to work with the mobile phone, since everybody is always carrying that device around.

I thought it would be great if people were able to record their movements and activity with their mobile phone. Just imagine that you could tell everyone where you’re at by sending a text message or a picture and the system would automatically turn this data into maps with your locations on it. Also, it would update your blog (widget) and Facebook profile (Facebook app).”

What was your biggest challenge during the development process?

Question number“The biggest challenge was right at the start of the LetsProve Where project. You see, I loved the idea of recording somebody’s life with a mobile phone, but I also wanted LetsProve Where to function as an event organizer so that people could manage and share their events.

So I added both functions and told the beta testers about the idea. It turned out that the users were confused while using it. They asked me what the service was good for? So although the two functions were great, it was too complicated for people to understand.

What I have learned from this is that sometimes more functions isn’t always better. You have to summarize your idea in one clear goal before you start developing. Then give users some time to get used to the service before adding new stuff.”

Can you describe Thailand’s start-up culture compared to Silicon Valley?

Question number“In Thailand, most of the start-ups are mainly targeted local. The build services in the Thai language. Most of the web sites in Thailand are still in the Web 1.0 era, so I guess you have never heard of a Thai start-up before. Yet I hope that if I’m doing a good job with my start-up, others from Thailand and other Asian countries will follow.

The advantage of having your office located in Thailand is the low salary costs. You can hire six to ten software engineers in Thailand for the price of one engineer in Silicon Valley.

A disadvantage is that it’s hard to find funding for your company. Because Web 2.0 in Thailand is a really new phenomenon and nobody knows a lot about it. So the VC’s won’t invest in some industry that they don’t really understand. So I started LetsProve with my own funding: under 3000 dollars for a server.., and snacks.”

What will be the influence of your start-up on the next web?

Question number“I think the mobile phone is the only device that people carry with them most of time. It will even get more important in the future. In the past, people used to write their feelings and things they had done in their diary, but now they can ‘write’ on their mobile phone and share it with their friends.

For me LetsProve is a new way to see what places people have visited and see whether they liked the place or not. In the future we could work with a travel company – hotel, airline, car rental etc. – in order to improve our services for our customers.”

You can make up this question yourself!

Question numberWhat’s your ultimate goal from this project?
“One day in the future, I would like LetsProve Where to be a service that can automatically record people’s activity in all kinds of ways such as photo, videos and voice – just like I’ve seen it in the movies.”

Who’s next?

“I would like to recommend Loopt, they’re a really interesting start-up”.