From tourism to real estate: Surapong Yangchareonsakul’s journey of adapting to new challenges and growing businesses
Surapong Yangchareonsakul has had a remarkable journey from his birthplace up north in Thailand to the southern province of Phuket, where he has built his tourism business since 2003 with the founding of Taihua Travel. As one of the pioneers in introducing Chinese tourism into Phuket, Surapong’s business became a vital contributor to the local economy, providing employment opportunities to hundreds of Thai people. As a result, he was widely welcomed by the local authorities and people, encouraging him to continue his work in the region.
Surapong’s efforts to promote Chinese tourism did not go unnoticed. He was appointed President of the Thai Chinese Tourism Association in September 2019, a position he still holds today. And recently Surapong was also entrusted by the Thai-Yunnan members of Phuket to serve as the President of the Yunnan Phuket Association for another term, in which he served for a period of four years from 2014 to 2018. Later, on the 8th January 2023, he was again entrusted by the members to return to the position as the President of the association. “Yunnan Phuket Association was established almost 30 years ago, and was originally named Yunnan Phuket Club Established in the year 1995”, as Surapong mentioned highlighting his commitment to fostering strong relationships between Thailand and China.
When the Covid pandemic struck, Surapong’s business, like many others in the tourism industry, was severely affected. During this time, he met Hachi Yin, the co-founder and CEO of one of Phuket’s largest property development companies, Utopia Corporation. Surapong became increasingly interested in the real estate industry as their friendship grew. When the opportunity arose, he decided to join Utopia Corporation while waiting for his tourism business to resume. But during his first few months, he discovered a passion for real estate, something he had never considered.
As Surapong reflects on his experience of stepping out of his comfort zone, he highlights the benefits of trying new things, “Trying new things and stepping out of your comfort zone can be very rewarding. Taking on new challenges helps one grow personally and professionally, expand one’s skill set and knowledge base, and develop adaptability to navigate the ever-changing business landscape.”
He believes creativity, innovation, risk-taking, and adaptability are key to success: “When you do something you’ve never done before, you’re forced to think creatively and find new solutions to problems. This can lead to innovative ideas that set you apart from your competitors.” This philosophy has led him to embrace his new role in Utopia Corporation, where he sees great potential for growth and innovation, “Trying something new can be a risk, but if done thoughtfully and strategically, it can pay off in the form of increased revenue, growth, or other positive outcomes.”
However, when he learned that Hachi wished to move on to new ventures, Surapong felt sad but understood his decision. Nonetheless, he is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of Utopia Corporation. He believes that the new team will continue to build on the legacy established by Hachi and take Utopia to even greater heights.
He believes, “The business world is constantly evolving, and those willing to try new things and adapt to changes are more likely to succeed. By embracing new experiences and challenges, you can become more adaptable and better equipped to navigate the ever-changing business landscape.”.
From Stocks to Real Estate: The Inspiring Journey of Jaikar Singh Manchanda, Utopia Corporation’s Gen Z Director
Meet Jaikar Singh Manchanda (Jay), the 24-year-old third-generation Thai-Indian born in Bangkok. Jay’s family has been in the textiles business for generations. Still, he always had a bigger dream than just taking over his family business. After graduating from Ascot International and completing his Diploma in Business Administration, Jay joined a competitor textile business to see if he could bring innovation to his family’s business. After two years, he realized the textile business was not for him. It didn’t excite him.
In his free time, Jay taught himself about stocks by monitoring them since 2016 and reading news, financial reports, and earnings reports. Then, he invested the money he earned from stocks into the safest investment possible - real estate.
Jay looks up to Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks and investor in the show Shark Tank, for his rags-to-riches story and success in the property industry. Says Jay, “He has demonstrated that starting from scratch and working tirelessly can lead to success, just as he did by selling garbage bags in his younger days to earn a living. His story reminds me of my beginnings at 16, when I worked hard to earn money for personal purchases and achieve financial autonomy. Mark has made significant investments in the property industry, reaffirming my belief that this is the path to follow.”
In early 2019, Jay contacted every developer in Phuket, a growing part of Thailand, and then Covid arrived. Initially, I considered postponing my idea of entering the property industry until later. Then, however, I became aware of a particular company in Phuket that managed to survive and thrive during these challenging times. Intrigued, I made an effort to contact the CEO of this developer.”
Jay finally met with the Utopia CEO, Hachi Yin, who shared his mindset of “Dare to Dream.” Says Jay, “I still remember that day, 26th January 2022 (Australia Day) we met at an outdoor restaurant in Phuket; I arrived early and felt nervous as he was the first CEO and Co-founder of a property development company that was willing to meet me. But as soon as he approached me, I felt a sense of connection. After that lunch, I knew I wanted to work with this company and Hachi.”
In March 2022, Jay became a minor shareholder in Utopia Corporation, the exact company he envisioned himself joining. However, after almost a year at Utopia Corporation, Jay decided to purchase more company shares as Hachi moves on after ten years in the industry.
Says Jay, “Hachi has decided to move on after ten years in this industry, and he too has bigger and better dreams to accomplish. He feels he has done what he could for Utopia, and it is time for the next generation to take over. The company’s foundation is set in concrete and is steps ahead of newcomers in property development by focusing on innovation. The Cook doctrine, which emphasizes simplicity, significant contribution, deep collaboration, and excellence, is embedded in the company’s culture, ensuring its success regardless of those at the helm.”
As the new member Director of Utopia Corporation, Jay reveals that 2023 will be about collaboration, with partnerships signed with Theptiptanatorn Company and Botanica Company for new projects, “Our company has recently established a partnership with Theptiptanatorn Company, the developer of a top-notch stadium complex in Maikhao, which also includes retail, hotel, and villa projects. We will also finally kick off the long-awaited Tonino Lamborghini project in partnership with Botanica Company in Ao Po, Phuket. Utopia Corporation is on its way to forming a Utopia Empire.”