Written by Igor Borges, Stan Cataldo, Ryan Dingler, Elaine Leong, and Mila Pires, of the Ananda Development team in Thailand.
It was May 13th at 6pm and our team had just arrived in Suvarnabhumi, Bangkok’s main airport. Ryan (one of our team members) hailed us a Grab, Thailand’s Uber, and we were on our way to the hotel. In the hot and humid Thai weather, we passed two of our clients real estate developments. During our research, we found Ananda Development (our client) had a strong real estate presence in Bangkok and were already finding that to be true!
The next day we met Lloyd, our main employee contact and the best host we could have asked for. He introduced us to his staff and gave us a tour of the office, which looked more like a high-tech company office in the Bay Area than a real estate company.
After showing our initial research and framework to Dr. John, Ananda’s Chief Development Officer, we rebuilt our deck to dive deeper into the solutions we identified as strongest in preparation for our field research the following day. To decompress, back at the hotel we began a tradition, which continued for the full three weeks, where we would all play foosball but only Elaine would win. Then we managed to get through the intense Bangkok traffic to Beer Belly, a restaurant recommended by an employee at Ananda, where played some pool, air hockey and ping pong along with eating fried pork skin and some (very) spicy food.
Tuesday during the day, Lloyd and his team setup tours of three of Ananda’s real estate developments, from pre-construction to fully sold-out and transferred properties, including an amazing 4D projection for the Ashton brand (Ananda’s most luxurious sub-brand). The three developments were all different Ananda sub-brands (these brands vary by target resident income and style) which gave us a good perspective of the various types of customers Ananda attracts.
In the afternoon, we went to dinner with Ananda and a USC-Marshall team that was also doing a project with Ananda. It was a great opportunity to mingle and try several typical Thai dishes that our Ananda team ordered for us. This was also the point where Ryan was introduced to mango sticky rice – a true love story in the making.
Wednesday we spent the day incorporating our initial feedback from Dr. John and additional information and insights we gathered during our field tours into our deck before our presentation to the CEO on Thursday. We also got to participate in a Singularity University event on the development of “fake meat” delivered by a professor from Japan.
Thursday, was our big day to present to Ananda’s CEO, Khun Chanond Ruangkritya. Khun Chanond is a young Berkeley alum that is at the forefront of rewriting how real estate is done in Bangkok. During the meeting, he gave us the go-ahead and said we were heading in the right direction and gave us a lesson on how to be a successful but humble leader – a true Haasie! To close the day, we were invited to the presentation of USC’s project and networked with professors and other USC teams that were also in Thailand.
On Friday we visited another Ananda building to learn about their Property Management division and how they manage existing developments. Also, Ananda had a TGIF event, where we were able to hear an amazing Adele performance by one of our close Ananda contacts, who used to be a professional singer before joining Ananda.
After the performance, we headed to our flights to Chiang Mai (a city in the north of Thailand) where we spent the weekend visiting temples, caring for our “own” elephants at a sanctuary and driving rented motorcycles.
It was an amazing pleasure and privilege to be in this project and we hope the next classes are as lucky as we were in getting such a heartwarming, exciting and eye-opening experience as ours. Lloyd and the team were wonderful hosts, every week they planned multiple events for us to network with CEOs, academics, and Berkeley alums.
Thank you Ananda for this unique experience and for the invaluable lessons!