Bangkok-based Flare pays drivers in the heavy traffic city to wrap their car in ads


See the original story in Japanese.

In Bangkok, Thailand, there is a community made up of Japanese serial entrepreneurs. While being enthusiastic about their own startups management, they are also devoted to intermediary activities between startup communities in Japan and Thailand. Kazuki Kamiya moved to Thailand in November of 2013, and established a Skype-based Thai language school in May of 2014. Later, he engaged in managing crowdsourced translation / interpretation and business portal website, and now has newly started an on-demand real business.

Kazuki Kamiya

Bangkok-based Flare, Kamiya’s newest startup, officially launched a car advertising service under the same name last week, which pairs drivers willing to wrap their car with companies looking for a unique way to advertise. The team provides the service within Thailand for the time being, and will consider expansion into other market in accordance with its business growth.

The Flare users owning automobiles log onto the service via a mobile app available for iOS / Android, and selects a desired one from among campaigns offered by advertisers. After applying for the campaign through uploading photos of the auto and driver license, wrapper comes and wraps the auto in the ad. The GPS information of driving record while putting the ad will be sent to Flare via the app. Each campaign budget is set by advertisers in advance and when an auto with the ad drives on a busy main street on a weekend, the budget will be greatly spent. Conversely, the budget will be spent less in local areas having minimal traffic under Flare’s charge system. Advertisers can confirm the spending pace of the budget or the progress of the campaign via the dashboard.

From 15 years ago, BTS (Bangkok Skytrain) and subway lines were opened in Thailand. I often use public transportation in Bangkok and did not know that Bangkok is ranked as the world’s second worst traffic city as announced annually by the Dutch car navigation company TomTom. Of course, clean up traffic congestion is important but Kamiya took advantage of the situation and created Flare from the idea of “a service to reduce drivers’ stress” during the world’s second most jammed traffic.  Since its pre-launch a month ago, more than 500 autos have signed up with Flare.

Auto with campaign wrapping
Auto with campaign wrapping

Interestingly, Flare users can earn more than expected. An average Flare driver earns 3,000 to 5,000 Baht (about $90 to $150) in a month. The monthly per capita GDP of Thailand is about $490 and the drivers can earn 1/4 to 1/5 of the average monthly income. This amount is equivalent to the rent of a standard apartment house in Thailand even if spending a part of the income as auto maintenance costs. Without requiring additional labor, this service makes these citizens life comfortable.

Kamiya commented on Flare’s vision:

Some drivers of Grab or UberX are using our app too. We will launch Flare available for tuk-tuk and bike taxi in addition to private cars!

Dashboard image for advertiser

In the world, there are some similar services: San Francisco-based Wrapify conducts business in 10 cities in the U.S., while Carvertise based in Wilmington, Delaware and Sti-car based in Jakarta, Indonesia carry on such activities. There are currently no competition in Thailand, but car-sharing service majors such as Grab or Uber may enter this field for the purpose of providing an additional income source to user drivers in the future. It is worth keeping an eye on how Flare will acquire the market as a pioneer.

Flare had fundraised from some of the Japanese angel investors in its angel round but it must not be a too distant future for it to undertake additional fundraising with a view of the market growth because it is common for startups in Thailand to expand their service into other Asian countries due to the small size of domestic market. Currently, the ad wrapping is offered only to autos driving in Thailand and the team will invite advertisers from Japanese companies conducting business in Thailand as well.

Translated by Taijiro Takeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy