Easier, Faster, Cheaper: This American is Starting a Business in Thailand

— My Eyes Popped When I Saw The Legal Bill

Yea, there were lots of headline images to choose from with guys in business suits shaking hands, making a deal.

BORING!

Plus, the design is awful (I laughed out loud and knew I had to use it), so I figured you’d figure I cobbled it together myself. Nope. So, proof there’s people out there just as devoid of talent as I in terms of image making.

One of the testimonials from a member includes:

I found your website at the beginning of the Paleo days and have followed you ever since. […] The essence of the experience has been change. You go from one thing to the next as the spirit moves you. I don’t want to miss out on what’s next. — Alan from Utah

This is true. This being the 20th year, when someone asks me what I blog about, “everything” is always the answer. It’s never seemed complicated to me. Essentially, fundamentally, a blog is an online journal of a predominantly personal nature. So, I have always cringed at the notion of writing about one thing for years and years and years as though I’m some objective bystander. BORING!

I have no idea how they do it. It would be like working at the same job for 20 years. And I mean, the same fucking job: no promotions, no new tech…the same damn thing day after day after day after day.

I suspect that’s why single-issue bloggers eventually go off the rails into bullshit territory. You need something new for engagement’s sake, but you’re an ABC blog, so you can’t write about XYZ. Guess you’ll have to write about ABC…bullshit bullshit yada yada, or something.

Observe how Paleo went junk “food” and LC went epileptic diet (clinically ketogenic) for so many. Gotta keep the peeps engaged. I did lots of new stuff too (potato hacks, beans, gut bug stuff, etc.), but always involving an omnivorous, real food paradigm. I evolved; or rather, my understanding and flexibility with diet and nutrition improved to make things more sensible and accessible. I didn’t morph into anathemas like fucking candy bars and sticks of GRASSFED!!! butter. What one eats should not be complicated, requiring continual “engaging” guidance from gurus and their flock.

Dietary “Engagement”

That said, there’s a fat blurry line with a blog, and you’re never going to get it perfect or just right. At times you’re going to share too much; or, you’re going to obsess about your own life without enough purpose or object lesson concerning what you’re writing about.

That’s a continual struggle and the sweet spot is that you have people on one side thinking you’re sharing too much personal and on the other, those who want even more of the gory details.

In general, I think an impersonal blog or newsletter is fucking boring. I hope you do too.

Anyway…

To the subject matter. I’m yet again into a new thing; thus, why the foregoing introduction. And yes, I still have pending stuff to publish. My focus has been spread thin. I haven’t blogged much about my trip back to the village and I’m saving some of that for when I better develop The Story of a Girl and Her Girls and publish the subsequent parts.

Those two girls are so fantastic. Check this out; it’s like 20 seconds.

(Don’t even get me started on the dismal state of child rearing in America…)

So, I’m back in Phuket, taking care of a bunch of stuff—including an enormous paperwork clusterfuck involving my motorcycle—and getting ready to move at the end of this month, if not sooner. Undecided where, but it will either be back to the village full time, or to Pattaya Beach where it’s only a 7-hr drive to the village—and not a 2-day trip from Phuket…so you have to fly and the airport east or west is 2-hrs drive from the house.

Something else is afoot too.

It has to do with My Easy Way alcohol cessation, which hits the 6-month mark in 2 days. I’ve been reflecting on that obligatory video and post. The title of this post is testament to what that will be about; which is, there is no way to predict how it’s going to go when you quit. Initially, you’re focussed on the task of just not drinking, which thankfully, was ridiculously easy for me, this time, at long last. And, you’re nostalgic. Perhaps you’re a bit depressed because you’re truly not having as much fun as you used to, so you’re condemned to a slightly or way more mundane life.

So what are you gonna make of it?

If you stay the course it’s almost like you can’t help yourself but to rebound into making your life fun, challenging, exciting yada yada, again…only from a different perspective and motivation. What’s mine? The girl and her girls. It’s both the motivation and the reward.

And it doesn’t come from some half-drunk, weepy, and forlorn place that’s gonna be forgotten about by the time you wake up sober anyway. It’s almost the opposite. I’m rather unemotional…stoic about it, even. Lemme tell ya what. Having a chick 32 years younger than you has its definite challenges…

So, what do you do? Well, anyone gets to do what they want but in my case, it adds up to being one more thing—and a rather prescient one at that—where it takes more and more to actually get me angry. And that process evolves from that conscious stoic resolve to a natural response where whatever that thing in the minute is, it’s all just information. I can act on it or not, chalk it up, or forget about it.

It also serves as a reminder that I did not, in fact, know it all at the age of 30. Yet.

…I require more than just getting up everyday and writing for some hours. Right now, it’s heavily weighted toward Twitter which is going well. From zero since Elon took over—my old account with 8k followers was nuked almost 2 years ago—to closing in on 400 followers. I’m figuring out the code without engaging in all the bullshit people do to get high numbers of brainless morons and they’re in abundance. I don’t need it. They’ll never be paying members.

Here, take a look at this thread (the replies and nested replies) and tell me how many of those 200ish regurgitators are serious candidates for a paying membership. Maybe 2 or 3.

So, I’m starting a business. A real-world, physical business. Like…get up in the morning, move shit around, pound on stuff. Not just tap-tap-tap. I built a house in the province of Sisaket in the spring and summer of 2020, sitting out Covid 1.0.

I relished in that experience, and plus, rural Thais are accustomed to 10-hr day, 7-day work weeks. I got it done in 2 1/2 months with 3-4 guys…older, mature village guys who know how to do everything because they have to. They have to know how to farm rice or cassava or papaya when the pickin’s good. They have to know how to raise and tend to livestock. They have to know how to build houses and commercial buildings and they’re all jacks of all trades…from laying the concrete pad to setting the concrete columns to laying the concrete blocks to setting the windows to welding together the steel roof structure to running plumbing to setting tile. The only things subbed out in my build was electrical, painting, the commercial interior doors, and the front 100% stainless-steel gate.

Have a quick look. All cash out of pocket, about $40-45K, estimated. The land is free and clear, too. And unlike in the “land of the free,” there are no property taxes whereby, you’re actually leasing “your land” from the state.

What that wonderfully exciting daily experience did was to instill in me a desire to start a construction company here in Thailand.

I grew up in and around construction. Various family members were in various trades and I spent large swaths of my youth, from age 10 onward, working on construction sites. It’s like blood in veins to me.

If I wanted to do this in America?

I would even get started in “The Land of the Free.”

TOO MUCH FUCKING BULLSHIT!

So, you get to follow along as I start and operate a construction company as an American in Thailand…ridiculously easier, faster, and cheaper than in the so-call land of the free…an utterly shameful delusion.

So here we go…details, details, details. All of them.

What Kind of Construction and Development Company?

I’m going to save the legal stuff for last. Because it’s boring. It’s an obligatory nuisance at best. I’m not one of those bright-eyed sorts running around and exclaiming with glee that IF YOU DO X, THEN YOU CAN GET Y!!! stuff from the fucking parasitical state.

(The propensity of Stockholm-syndrome sheeple to paise and laud their paperwork-shuffling, fee-collecting bureaucratic institutions just amazes me.)

I had thought previously and many times during and after the house construction that I wanted to build houses. I never moved on that, just kept it bouncing fore & aft and side-to-side in the noggin. I much appreciate the ways and means of basic home construction here, which I state unequivocally is far and away superior to the sticks and wallboard cheapo crap in the US. Really, just about everywhere is superior. The only reason they do it as stupidly and cheaply as they do in the US must probably come down to DC lobbyists somewhere, rent-seeking behavior, and an American propensity fore love of facade above all else.

…Made up America; as in, makeup. Go almost anywhere else and they choose stone, concrete, steel, mortar, brick, and tile to make lasting structures that only grown more appealing over time.

1800s vs. 1950s. Which looks more “dated?”

Now you’ve probably all seen or even been involved with standard wood-frame construction, with cheapo wallboard—not even lath & plaster—you can easily put a fist through (or a door handle…how many have one of those attractive “features” in your house right now…and oh, well, keeps the door-stopper guys in business, right?).

Here’s an alternative way, and when a door handle scuffs up the paint finish on the stucco, it brings back a memory from 60 years ago …when grandpa did that while roughhousing with the other kids on a Christmas eve…and man did great gramma —God rest her soul—have one Hades of a fit! Having lived in France in the early 90s, I loved seeing old homes and apartments with the traditional high ceilings, marble or tile floor, and stucco walls that had been painted white originally and never painted again. Now yellowed, browned, scuffed up in a bunch of places…

I call it a thousand memories and stories. You never touch it.

9 Random Shots from My Build

I think what makes my head shake the most is watching an apartment or condo building go up in the US. They do the sub-structure (parking garage, services, equipment spaces) and 1st floor just perfectly. It’s done in reinforced concrete poured into molds, and prefab concrete. Then what do they do? they stick-frame it from there on up, and it’s not even steel studs and wallboard as is typical with office-building construction (at least). Nope. Wood framing. They’ve make a solid foundation and then ruined everything as a whole, because they’ve loaded it up with cheap facade-crap—rather than with timeless materials that will last just as long.

How long?

…In the summer of 2019 I did a week-long hiking excursion of The Alpujarra region of southeastern Spain where the Morrish hung out for about 700 years, until the mid-1500s. They built lots of stuff. They built it all correctly, with care and a long view, and it still stands—just as good and functional as ever—which is a very common site throughout Europe.

So you have tons of structures that are all at least 500 years old and look as though they’ll be fine for another.

And consider this, those of us who bemoan “progress” in the form of a new development in one form or another—from stacked boxes of apartments and and condominiums to spread out boxes to shop in—where they’ve leveled whatever structures were there before.

Building it right the first time reduces the chances of it becoming cheap enough to buy and turn a profit “renewing” it with facade-design crap.

So to sum it up, my modest vision is to build whatever in a fashion that lasts as long and looks as it should functionally.

What Build To Begin With?

I thought about “bread & butter” houses for a long time (single family homes). I thought a long time about creative financing as well, to get families into them. Under 2 Million TBH ($60,000).

Then I thought about bars. No idea why.

I thought a lot about bars. Well, I was in them quite a bit, observed, and thought much about the elements I like.

In terms of design, openness. Way openness. A view is certainly cool but that land is taken or likely to be out of consideration in price. Plus, location is key.

I’d sketched out designs, talked to lots of people…just never got anything moving. My final working design was styled like an aircraft hanger with lots of classic airlines memorabilia and nostalgia. Definitely 70s sorta theme. Including the girls. I figured two sets of uniforms: Pacific Southwest, and Southwest.

Go-go boots and mini skirts or mini shorts. For the win.

I ultimately concluded that I really don’t want to be selling booze and pussy.

Go figure. I saw the inherent potential slippery slope…

Apart from just the appearance of it, I’m totally impatient talking to solipsists about how Asian bar-girl culture is not. at. all. like cat houses in the US. I’m not even going to address it here. Curious? Then book a trip to Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, or any number of other places and see for yourself.

My experience goes all the way back to 1982; Pusan, Korea.

…I’d been observing something else out of the corner of my eye for a long time. Small mom & pops and the sort of organic way they operate, locate, and do business. It’s of particular interest because of the proliferation of the 7-Eleven corporate scourge. I don’t care about it so much in dense urban areas but I really hate it in small towns where there’s only mom & pop, Sewen moves in, and all the locals flock there, putting pressure on their friends and neighbors trying to make ends meet from their little shops.

Can’t stop “progress,” I guess. That said, I’ve done a bit of research. There are 12,000 Sewens in Thailand and it has 70% of the convenience-store market. So we have 17,000 corporate, cookie-cutter, impersonal, air-conned-at-68F (I shit you not) stores, about 50/50 corporate and franchise. You know which were the franchises around here. They’re still out of business ’cause Covid. The corporate ones survived, of course.

17K is a lot of stores in a country with the population of the United Kingdom (70 million).

Now guess how many mom & pops.

400,000.

So I’m going to acquire land and build mom & pop shops. They go up very fast. These are not your typical ugly-as-all-fuck strip malls. Gawd where did they ever come up with those? Yea, I know. Economic efficiency. No heart or soul, devoid of beauty, but hey! It makes money!

Fuck off.

Here’s a new place, Rawai Night Market, that went from bare dirt to this in about 2 weeks.

This is a bit hybrid, so bear with me. There’s two kinds of shops. There’s the Kiosks or Stands under the pink canopies. There are also shops in the rear, as well as a common area restroom. All that stuff is still under construction.

There’s another application that’s sort of like a strip mall, but no parking. This makes it more like a street or sidewalk storefront. Damnable parking. It’s an enormous blight and eyesore on all that could be beautiful, or at least quaint. Imagine the most charming downtown main street you can with all of the organically-derived mom & pops—everything from ice cream shops to shoe repair; a florist, fountain shop, burger joint, bistro, coffee, bookstore…you get the idea. Now set them all back 50 feet and make that space into a parking lot.

See what I mean? But people don’t want to park and walk waddle, anymore.

These three photos are of what I assume to be three phases of the same project, just done a few months back. Each phase took no more than a month or so, and all were immediately at full occupancy.

My Design Concept

Taking everything together and combining other elements I’ve seen, I’ve come up with this as just a bare-ass concept with no fluff.

This is merely elemental.

  • Big concrete slab
  • Electrical to all kiosks/stands, shops, restrooms, and overhead canopy
  • plumbing to restrooms only

Also, resist the urge to make anything uniform but the elements. Everything else springs up organically, the creation of each little entrepreneur limited only by the extent of their eccentricities. That’s what makes it charming…human. And because it’s not corporate, there’ll be none of the same tired facades that make every mall in America look exactly like every other mall in America.

It’s a small micro-move. Big ass project for me. My own little statement or testament towards an enhanced human experience and existence.

The big brain-racker for me is the full-lot canopy. It’s necessary. Those pink canopies in the night market pictured above are adequate to keep the kiosks out of the sun. During tropical rainy season which is for months and months? Not gonna cut it. The tradeoff is light. First, it blocks out natural lighting throughout; so, you might have to add lighting, which increases common-area costs…

So, where my mind is right now is a really, really high canopy to allow as much natural light as possible. Skylights is another idea. Still another is to have designed some heavy vinyl tarp-covering mechanism that can be winched across to cover for rain, then winched back when clear. I just know that’s going to be a clusterfuck if I even try it. Almost certainly not on the first time around.

Minimal risks the first time.

Particulars: Legal, Capital Investment, Land Acquisition, Corp Structure, Name, Etc.

Well, this is getting to be at 3,000 words so I’m going to save the boring stuff for its own post and figure out a way to make it engaging, God help me.

One little hint, though, since I went and put it as the subtitle and it feels like cheating to scroll back up and edit it to something else.

…I once did a startup company back in the day that raised $250,000 seed capital from a number of private investors. The whole purpose was to acquire venture capital and then get acquired later on by one of a couple players already in the space, which was peer-to-peer lending (an industry that never really took off, due to being killed by the land of the free SEC very early on). Anyway, in order to do everything by the book—especially taking in investment capital from accredited investors who were not in the “friends & family” dispensation—took right around $40,000 in attorney fees.

I’ve chosen a well-established firm here, specializing in these structures, to get it all set up so an American (very important…we have a very special dispensation no other foreigner has) can fully own a company and take in capital investment in exchange for stock from any individual anywhere. It’s a law firm owned by a Yank and a Brit, employing Thai attorneys.

Having that previous experience in setting up a similar thing by the book in the land of the free, I was half figuring that it’s just going to be way out of reach and I’d have to focus on making and saving for months to come before even hoping to get started in earnest.

Then my eyes popped out when I got the fee proposal.

100,000 TBH (98,230 to be exact). That’s only (and that’s a mighty big only) 3,000 bucks US.

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL!!!

I also get a 30% discount because it’s first business and of course, they’ll recommend forming a new Limited Company for each separate project, which is wise. So, it comes to about $2,200 to get it all set up.

There’s also the matter of a minimum capitalization requirement of 2 million baht, about $60,000 US. Turns out there’s dispensations to be had there, too.

OK, that’ll do it for now.

4 Comments

  1. John Shelley on February 6, 2023 at 04:17

    You taking on partners?

  2. David Nikoley on February 6, 2023 at 04:52

    Looking forward to hearing more about it.

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