Saying RBSC Member Khun Pranai likes sports would be like saying kua kling is a little spicy. It’s a bit of understatement. The world of sports plays a big role in his life. He watches, plays and has become involved with sports marketing in Thailand. He isn’t some jock though. He is a savvy entrepreneur hoping to make a name for himself.
Game plan by Cheyenne Hollis
There is only one sport that Khun Pranai Phornprapha doesn’t really enjoy watching. It’s baseball. “I went to a baseball game when I was in America, and I didn’t really like it,” he points out. “It was really slow. There isn’t enough action. It is kind of boring.”
He isn’t the first person to be turned off by baseball’s methodical pace. Instead, he prefers action and athleticism. He is quick to proclaim his admiration for basketball. The NBA is a favorite of Khun Pranai even if it can harm his work productivity.
“I enjoy watching basketball. I don’t have a team I root for. I just like watching the best players. They can do some amazing things. The problem is the NBA games start in the morning. Sometimes I will start watching them at work and that isn’t always good for being productive,” he confesses.
NBA League Pass allows subscribers to watch any game at any time. The time difference between the US and Thailand means games tip-off at 6am local time and the late games will end around noon. With so many great players and the ability for anything to happen on any given night, it is hard to not watch even if work does get in the way.
“I like watching the Golden State Warriors. They are a great team to watch with the Splash Brothers, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, playing so fast,” he says. “Then you always want to watch someone like Russell Westbrook. He is just a freak. It’s incredible to watch him play.”
Khun Pranai is clearly a knowledgeable basketball fan, but his passion is football. Specifically, his passion is Arsenal FC. The London-based club has been the apple of his eye since childhood. Make no mistake, he is not some glory hunter, but a fan who truly supports the team.
“When I was growing up everyone seemed to support Manchester United or, especially in Asia, Liverpool. Part of the reason I chose to support Arsenal is that I wanted to be different,” Khun Pranai explains. “The main reason I follow Arsenal is their style of play. They play really attractive football. I really liked watching the team play because it was different.”
As an adult, he has been able to travel to England to see them play. He has also taken in a few other soccer matches during his time there including an uncomfortable experience watching Manchester City play Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium. “I was at that game on business as a guest of Manchester City. It was difficult because I couldn’t cheer for Arsenal. They won the game which was great, but I couldn’t celebrate at all. It was kind of awkward, especially when Arsenal scored because my natural instinct was to cheer,” he recounts.
There has been an influx of Thai influence in English football. Leicester City and Reading are owned by Thais and several Thai companies have notable sponsorships with clubs such as Singha’s deal with Chelsea. It would be natural to think that as a young entrepreneur Khun Pranai might one day eye owning his own soccer club.
“Football teams are not good business,” he says definitively. “Maybe if you can combine it with branding it can work out. I think King Power and Leicester have been successful and same with Everton and Chang. You have to have a branding element for it work. I’m super far away from thinking about that though.”
The branding element is huge in the sports world. It is something that Khun Pranai has been caught up in over the years. “I bought a Sega Dreamcast4 and JVC television because they were shirt sponsors of Arsenal when I was younger. Neither was the best investment in hindsight. The brand loyalty that can be created by sponsoring a football team is good business. I have learned a lot about this and think sports can be a very powerful marketing tool.”
It should come as no surprise to learn that Khun Pranai and his partners have ventured into the field of sports marketing. One of his most creative endeavors is The Music Run5, a unique 5k run that enhances the natural marriage of music and running by turning it into a social event.
“Almost everyone listens to music when they run. The Music Run is an event designed to be different. We want to combine the love of running with the love of music people have,” Khun Pranai details. “It’s a fun event and one that we hope will keep growing. Last year we did Bangkok, Jakarta and Yangoon in 2014 and we will return to those cities this year. Singapore is coming up in April and Hong Kong and Taiwan will also happen in 2015.”
The idea behind The Music Run is simple. It’s to create a total musical immersion. Each kilometer is dedicated to a unique genre of music. The runners then vote on which songs will be played using social media during the build up to the run. The course is lined with top quality speakers that play the top songs selected by the runners. After the run, there is a concert for everyone to keep the party going.
Sports clearly play a big role in Khun Pranai’s life, but he does take a step back from that world for his proverbial day job. He is Managing Director of Siam SBrand6, a Japanese auto body repair and paint franchise. Khun Pranai’s father, Khun Pornpinit Phornprapha, was supposed to take the meeting with the company’s representatives but a busy schedule prevented this.
“My dad told me to go to the meeting and see if it was any good because he didn’t really have the time for it. SBrand were looking to expand into the Thailand like many Japanese companies. I spent a lot of time looking at the business. I was in and out of Japan learning about what they did and seeing if it would be a good fit,” he says. “The core reason I decided to go through with it is because I thought SBrand could fill a gap in the market.”
It hasn’t always been easy, but he firmly believes in what Siam SBrand has to offer. The company continues to grow in popularity as more people are introduced to its one of a kind experience. Siam SBrand prides itself on providing quick, high-quality repairs with top-notch customer service.
“We had to make some adjustments for the Thai market after seeing how things went during the first year. We started working with insurance companies because most Thais want to use insurance to pay. There were some other tweaks we also had the make but once we did that, things started to take off,” he states.
It’s only natural to assume that someone who loves sports and works with cars would drive, or want to drive, a sports car. Surprisingly, this is not the case with Khun Pranai. “Sports cars aren’t really practical to drive in Bangkok. You spend two or three hours in your car a day. Why would you want to spend it in a car that is cramped and comfortable? You can’t use a fast car in traffic,” he muses. “Everyone loves a supercar, but I want one that is comfortable to be in.”
It is that kind of understated creativity that has allowed him to create a name for himself despite coming from a famous family. He always wanted to do his own thing growing up. He was allowed that freedom and he will always be grateful to this his parents for that.
“I have always wanted to prove myself. I never wanted to rest on my family name,” he says. “They never forced me to do anything. I have been able to pursue my interests. They have always supported me, and I have to thank them.”
With countless interests and many other projects in pipeline, it seems as if Khun Pranai is just getting started. He might even be more successful than Arsenal over the next decade, but that is a conversation he would probably wish to avoid.
For more info on The Music Run visit themusicrun.com
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