How the son of a fisherman escaped the city by building a business online

Vithan Chaiyo, a 30-year-old native of Chanthaburi province, moved from Bangkok for his secondary education and a bachelor’s degree. After his graduation, he worked as an event organizer for two years during which he felt suffocated by the stress of urban life. Missing the vast expanses of sea and sky of his province, he quit his job and headed back home for a new chapter in his life, one where learning to sell online would play a critical part. 

Beginning of Entrepreneurship

“I know seafood. I can tell which ingredient is fresh and which is not. I’d go catch squids with my dad during my childhood. Our catch was then grilled for sale. We’d catch many types of mollusks: squid, cuttlefish, bigfin reef squid, and octopus. So, after I returned to my hometown, I used my knowledge to open a small stall selling grilled squid near the beach,” Mr. Vithan said. 

The stall, named Hma Khay Hmuk, stands out because of its fresh ingredients. Mr. Vithan has his own pier and fishing trawler, which is moored just a few kilometers away from the stall. Each fishing expedition takes “Roong Tawan”, the boat owned by Mr. Vithan’s father, about five days. Normally, its catch will be unloaded at the pier every Thursday. When Roong Tawan returns from the sea, it has many types of sea animals on it – anchovy, torpedo scad, cobia, and of course squids. All the squid caught by the Roong Tawan go to Hma Khay Hmuk, which prides itself on its fresh ingredients.  

After being grilled, the squids are cleaned with seawater and cut into bite-size pieces, while squid eggs are grilled on banana leaves in a charcoal oven, the traditional way. In addition to its all-natural techniques, Hma Khay Hmuk’s secret sauce is, well, its secret sauce. Made daily, it consists of small hot peppers crushed with parsley roots and garlic and splashed with fresh lime juice. 

Going Digital

Mr. Vithan claims the sustainability of his business does not rest solely on the quality of his grilled squid. He also credits online sales with allowing him to make a living in a rural area.

Mr. Vithan shares his seafood knowledge with his fans through his stall’s Facebook page: Hmakhayhmuk. As Mr. Vithan shows a dazzling range of seafood during his live sessions, he also takes orders. Once the purchase order is confirmed with a payment, the seafood will be delivered to their home the next day.

“We cannot ignore the online world anymore. Some people doubt that it’s possible to sell seafood online. The secret is to be an expert in your field and uphold quality,” Mr. Vithan said. 

Mr. Vithan attended a training with the dtac “Net for Living” team before he named his stall and Facebook page Hma Khay Hmuk. The team recorded a video clip about his stall and uploaded it on Facebook to help Mr. Vithan promote his business. To date, the clip has already attracted more than three million views. With growing recognition, Hma Khay Hmuk is now a landmark on Chanthaburi’s Chao Lao Beach.

“A digital presence is very important these days. It enables us to sell our products online. And when our followers come to Chanthaburi, they drop by my stall,” Mr. Vithan said.

But what Mr. Vithan is most thankful for is the confidence that he won’t have to go back to Bangkok to make a living. 

dtac Net for Living provides training to entrepreneurs wishing to develop new revenue streams online. Follow us on https://www.facebook.com/dtacnetforliving/