Programmer entrepreneurs: Start anywhere, including Thailand

The world does not begin and end in Silicon Valley -- or Austin or Durham. While in Thailand, I met two U.S. coders who stayed and became successful entrepreneurs

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Steven also provides an example of how technology people handle their non-technology business and "return to the well," so to speak. As SiamMandalay's wooden puzzles and games faced increasing competition from cheap Chinese knockoffs, Steven once again found a technical solution: 3D-rendered cheat sheets.

See you later

Both of these guys went on vacation and never came back. In a global economy, in a high-demand field, there may not always be a reason to.

Of course, cultural challenges often present themselves. This is a sweeping generalization, but in work situations, Thai people tend to avoid conflict. That's welcome most of the time, but in an engineering discussion, a difference of opinion can be an asset, and the boss may want to know if you disagree on a technical basis. Douglas' lesson learned was "first, deflate your ego," and then take time and develop trust.

There are advantages as well. As Prussky put it, "If you go to Silicon Valley and say, 'I've got a $10 million idea,' they’ll tell you, 'I'm sorry, I don't know anyone who is interested in $10 million.' In Thailand, the lower costs and immaturity of the market means there are tons of opportunities in business apps." In addition, both men agreed that in Thailand, employee burnout is more rare. People work consistently and with focus, but they don't work crazy hours. They also don't slump the way that's common in the "90 hours and loving it" environments common in Silicon Valley.

What about the political risks? While in Bangkok, I took a walk through a protest camp (which the State Department does not recommend you do), and, on my way home, the prime minister was deposed by the court. While in Chiang Mai, I had dinner with the U.S. consul general, Michael Heath. He confirmed that the business policies of Thailand had been consistent through multiple governments and a coup. Foreign-owned businesses that weren't heavily exposed to the softening local economy had been largely unaffected.

So if you're a developer and have enough liquid assets, and you go on vacation and never want to come back ... maybe you don't have to. Thanks to the worldwide effects of globalization, it's a great time to be a developer. If you want to see the world, start a business, or live abroad, we're at a moment in history when the world really is your oyster.

This article, "Programmer entrepreneurs: Start anywhere, including Thailand," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Keep up on the latest news in application development and read more of Andrew Oliver's Strategic Developer blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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