From Monk to Social Impact in Thailand

Kris Supavatanakul’s journey towards entrepreneurship started off when he was working with a global management consulting company. When he became a monk, he realized that both private organizations and nonprofits had to step up to help people breakthrough their lifetime poverty cycle.

Kris Supavatanakul’s journey towards entrepreneurship started off when he was working with a global management consulting company for a project called the 4.0 Digital Government Transformation. He was working on the welfare system that was responsible for providing the underprivileged communities with social support.

As he was working on the plan, there were numerous cases of individuals that were receiving the welfare pensions at minimal amounts, helpful to live through day-by-day but not sufficient to help them breakthrough their lifetime poverty cycle. Most had a financial burden beyond monthly pensions, and he knew that private organizations and nonprofits had to step up and fill in this role.

After moments with the Company, he became a monk for 1 month. During his monkhood, the temple identified balance sheets not equaling the same worth as the tax receipts. One fraudulent monk had a pricing scheme for a monkhood ‘entry fee’ that varied according to each new monk’s social status and background, which had been in effect for years.

“Not all socially-driven organizations can be trusted and financial information should be visible to everyone before making a financial decision.”

— Kris Supavatanakul, founder of Cheewid

It’s the obscurity in both government and temple services that encouraged him to create Cheewid, a platform that would implement radical transparency. The platform provides all essential information about a range of organizations and causes throughout Thailand.

We have a large sum of human capital investment from both public and private not connected to the right impact. Our role as an information platform is to guide decisions in the right direction, and ensure the underprivileged communities get the support they need for social change.

With the goal of reaching inclusive impact for all, he started his entrepreneurial journey. But being inexperienced in the field, he quickly encountered numerous challenges. “As an enterprise, there were massive flaws in my vision and my slight disconnect to reality. There’s a big difference between having an idea and execution. As an entrepreneur, experience and age only increases your chances of failing. But being new to the sector also amplified your failing rate.”

But he knew there was a way to make the best of his young age and energy while benefiting from the experience of a more mature entrepreneur: mentorship. “We knew that mentorship was something we needed greatly. The Leap by Bridge for Billions was a program that matched your enterprise needs to the corresponding professional that possessed the vision and wisdom we were looking for. We didn’t want to connect with any entrepreneur or mentor, we wanted to work alongside THE entrepreneur and mentor.”

Read more: the key steps to developing your business

As Kris made its way through the incubation program in January 2019, working step by step on the business tools of The Leap, he gathered enough knowledge and perspective to start building the product. The progresses made on Cheewid were so impressive that they launched half way into the program, and revisited some of their earlier concepts to sharpen our current business model.

“The experience shaped my understanding of the world and how to better manage both personal and entrepreneurial lifestyle for the better.”

— Kris Supavatanakul

And in that experience, having a good mentor on their side at the outset of their entrepreneurial adventure was critical for Kris Supavatanakul, and for the the development of the venture.

My mentor Iliriana saw where we needed to improve where I often could not. She had a way of seeing more of our company from a different lens that I ever could. It did slightly trouble me initially, as I was a realist and saw the enterprise issue as a mountain of checklist I had to overcome. Iliriana toppled down the mountain and broke my problems into tiny pieces, fixing jigsaw by jigsaw.”

Iliriana also had the ability to inspire and provide moral support when Kris could have easily caved-in on the business. “She knew I was doing great work – I did too, but she recovered the hope and energy I was slowly losing while running the enterprise. A good mentor brings out the best fighting spirit in people.

For Kris, not just having a good mentor, but having a good entrepreneur running a business side-by-side in your batch is what made the adventure less lonely. “When you’re faced with countless struggles and adversity, knowing that there’s a friend in your cohort going through the same thing is calming. Peer support is essential to the development of your entrepreneurial characteristics.”

When we asked Kris which advice he’d like to give to all entrepreneurs starting their journey, here is what he told us:

  1. Find a balance between under planning and overplanning risks. “Analysis paralysis kills your ambitions with too many ways to reject your potential. In contrast to under-planning or not pivoting fast enough to business settings can cripple your entire plan. Always make calculated risks and find a balance on how to plan your venture.”

  2. Entrepreneurs are nurtured, not born. “A mentor taught me that the business ecosystem is complex and extremely dynamic, and I learned it the hard way. Entrepreneurs need to constantly adapt to change, nurtured to learn and unlearn the cyclical process of a business. The most successful visionary entrepreneurs are malleable and create the most sustainable enterprises.’“

  3. You can fail, but learn to forgive yourself.Not all ventures are perfect, and it might take a few enterprises to collapse and fall before you reach your successful tipping point. Don’t get stuck in the past and learn to forgive yourself. See mistakes as a learning curve, and see a challenge as a battle you will eventually overcome through time. If you don’t manage to win, it’s also okay – not everyone gets it right the first time. Just keep on moving forward and take small steps before you feel like you’re you again.

Like Kris, you’re looking for guidance and support to develop your business idea?

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