written by Mallory Tuttle, Strome Entrepreneurial Center Program Manager at Old Dominion University
Norfolk –> Bangkok –> Chiang Mai –> Bangkok –> Trang –> Bangkok –> Norfolk
The final leg of this amazing experience is almost over and I continue to be amazed by the passion and drive of the people here. Every person I met during my stay here was an entrepreneur – every single person. Thailand truly lives by the motto “entrepreneurship is for everyone”. I came prepared to share everything I knew about entrepreneurship but I gained much more during my two weeks here.
During the final week of the outbound project I was able to go back to my roots and apply my education and experience in eco-tourism and hospitality and tourism management to entrepreneurship and innovation.
Sindy Marattanachai provided introductions to two unique social impact startups. We toured Once Again Hostel and met the team that is empowering locals and improving the community with every stay. We also met up with the CareerVisa Thailand team, discussed career development services innovations and toured their space at dtac Accelerate.
I met an awesome group of leaders from NIA : National Innovation Agency, Thailand and discussed the ODU Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship and specifically the student entrepreneurs we work with at the ODU Strome Entrepreneurial Center. I learned more about the programs they offer including Startup Thailand and Founder Apprentice and hope to establish a more formal partnership for collaboration with the organization moving forward.
We hosted our final Young Founder Essentials Workshop in Trang at Suan Dusit University. Students learned about tourism trends and used design thinking to develop solutions to problems facing the tourism industry within their community. The student teams completed their social business model canvases, presented their business pitches and engaged in Q&A with the panel of judges. Their ideas ranged from enhanced tourism itinerary app development to AR/VR tourism experiences.
We wrapped up our trip with a visit to Bohin Farmstay, a local eco-tourism destination that provides authentic tourism experiences for southern Thailand. Due in part to their sea grass replenishment project the conversation status of the Dugong species decreased from endangered to vulnerable.
Thank you again to the U.S. Department of State, American Councils for International Education, Old Dominion University, Sindy Marattanachai, Aom Kwanpirom Suksri, Jaimie At AmericanCouncils, Mauli At AmericanCouncils, and all of the other organizations, faculty/staff and volunteers who made this project possible.
I am looking forward to bringing back new ideas, thoughts and connections to ODU. I’m pretty certain this will go down in the history books as the longest commute I’ll ever have but it was totally worth it!