What’s the hardest business you could possibly start in Thailand? In a nation where fair skin is a national obsession and the sun shines nearly 365 days a year (the exception being the ones when it shines 366 days…), Jeff Amato came up with a one of a kind business idea: a tanning studio.
In this episode, Jeff goes step by step over how he decided on his latest business (which is in fact business #12 for him), details how he found the perfect location for it and shares his little tricks of handling interactions with his local landlord. From revealing which lawyer he used to negotiate great terms on his lease to which factors he considers to have been key in his businesses, it’s not only an insight into challenging a cultural concept but also a look behind the scenes of launching a business in Thailand’s capital against all odds.
Before becoming the first entrepreneur in the entire country to give this a shot, Jeff used to be a top tier executive at the sales and incentive specialist Martiz – a company doing 2 billion dollars in yearly revenue. In his first journey to Thailand, he brought 4,000 people with him, which he later one-upped when managing transportation of nearly 40,000 visitors for a single event! From there, he went on to work in start-ups and travel companies, before settling down with his first local business. Discover the journey that took him there and where he stands with it now.
- What brought Jeff to Thailand the first time (0:08)
- What Bangkok looked like in the 90’s (2:10)
- What your friends/family think about you living in Thailand (4:41)
- Have you thought about inviting your dad to Thailand (5:57)
- Talking about starting a restaurant (17:53)
- How to attract customers (20:25)
- How to check the books (21:47)
- The process of bringing a partner into the business (22:21)
- Obstacles he encountered in setting up the whole operation (28:35)
- Finding out how many expats there are and where they live (31:51)
- Managing relationships with your landlord (37:42)
- How tanning works (44:54)
- Thailand’s black face scandals (49:30)
Websites and People Mentioned
- Jeff’s tanning studio BKK Sun and its Facebook page
- E-Cin, the bar and restaurant that Jeff took over
- His prior employers Maritz and Pacific World Bangkok, his client Caltex, and the well-liked Riverfront Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok
- The real estate company CBRE Bangkok
- The private fourteen person yacht for Chao Phraya river cruises, X2 River Cruises
- The real estate lawyer Jeff trusts: Ira Blumenthal at Blumenthal, Richter, Sumet.