“The landscape of architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry is continually evolving with many players creating new opportunities in the market. It is important for property developers, designers, project managers, and other professionals in this industry to prepare effective strategies for the future.”
Paperspace Asia co-founder, Sombat Ngamchalermsak, shared the above during the Kokuyo Worksight 2020 seminar held last February 27, 2020 at the BAB Box @ One Bangkok.
Paperspace is a collective of experienced strategists, designers, and change activists that focuses on making clients’ vision a reality. The Paperspace team leverages their years of experience and their wide knowledge base to design beautiful and highly efficient offices and commercial spaces to empower business performance of the future, and create impactful spaces for people.
Kokuyo and Worksight
Sombat was invited to be a guest speaker at the Kokuyo WORKSIGHT 2020 seminar, attended by industry professionals seeking new knowledge and insights into the future of the AEC field.
The event was spearheaded by WORKSIGHT, a magazine under Kokuyo. This is a yearly workshop and the 9th run organized by the company. One of the leading furniture brands in Japan, Kokuyo is known for its top quality showrooms with gorgeous furniture pieces for offices and homes. The WORKSIGHT magazine captures changes and trends in the furniture industry.
Knowledge Sharing with the Future in Mind
The event this year centered upon two speakers – Yuki Kanamori (WORKSIGHT’s magazine editor) and Sombat from Paperspace. Kanamori covered the topic, “What is coming after ABW?” and Sombat spoke about “The Secret of Design Pitching.”
In his sharing, Sombat gave a brief introduction about himself, and an overview of Paperspace. He used his personal trajectory as a story on how he started the business, and the challenges gone through to make it this far. One of the turning points in his career, as Sombat shared, was the 1997 Asian economic crisis. Sombat was starting out in the industry then and recalled the challenges of securing a job.
By a twist of fate, he moved to Singapore in order to scour opportunities in the architecture and design field. He landed a job working for a property development firm wherein he was assigned a project that is located in India. Flying back and forth between Bangkok and India became the norm for five years.
It was through these experiences that the training to be agile kicked in. Sombat shared with the audience that he learnt to work in any place and situation, whether at the bus station, airport, or in a hotel. He also talked about his experiences on projects for two of today’s tech giants under his then-employer. All of these conveyed to the audience the importance of improving oneself while recognizing growth opportunities, leading to the importance of pitching in today’s world.
Pitching and Marketing Your Work Effectively
As the Co-Founder of Paperspace, Sombat underwent the entrepreneurial challenges of pitching and marketing his work. At one point, he contacted a bunch of magazines to write about his startup, but only one of them responded affirmative. This was a first dismal foray into marketing, but with persistence and continual tries, he won his first project with Airbnb from his Singapore office and completed the project in Beijing.
One key point from this experience, as Sombat suggested to designers in the audience, is the imperative to put oneself out there for the purpose of gaining visibility. He advised people not to passively wait for opportunities but dedicate time and effort in contacting media sources to get word about your company or work to your target audience.
Sombat’s marketing efforts paid off when he gained his first project for a social media giant in 2018. He worked with the same company a decade before. Paperspace landed more projects after that and Sombat continued to market himself and the company despite getting these big wins in the industry. For instance, he tried out other forms of outreach, such as doing a podcast with one of the most well-known podcast publishers in Bangkok.
Aside from the importance of building visibility in the market, Sombat shared some tips on how to stand out from the competition and stay memorable in clients’ minds. He suggested going for elements of surprise and thinking out of the box while pitching. For example, when Paperspace was pitching a space concept for a client, Sombat invited BBQ Plaza’s mascot to gatecrash the presentation. This added humour and surprise to the meeting, which worked in the company’s favour.
A Game Plan is Everything
Circling back to his starting point on having a solid strategy, Sombat ended his talk with a timely metaphor:
“Pitching your company or your work and marketing is a war and you have to prepare yourself to fight in that war. You have to have your own strategy to win the war. It doesn’t matter how big or small you are. If you are a small firm pitching to a big firm, you need a strategy to win the project and beat the bigger competitors. If you are a big firm pitching against a small firm, that doesn’t mean you will win. You still need to be prepared with a strategy no matter what.”
Kokuyo WORKSIGHT 2020 was a resounding success with high engagement from the audience. We look forward to next year’s event and line-up.