Top Ittipat, a young Thai man who was once an online-game addict, is one of the youngest billionaires in the world. Director Songyos Sugmakanan recently helmed a semi-fictional biopic of the rags to riches story with "The Billionaire", a story on Ittipat's extraordinary journey and transformation from a zero to hero. Cinema Online managed to catch the real-life success story as he spills on his self-depiction in the movie and his tips on being where he is now.
Cinema Online interview with Top Ittipat conducted via email recently. Q: How similar are you with Pachara Chirathivat's character in "The Billionaire"? Were you really that headstrong and confident as seen through your character in the movie?
Ittipat: I'm a little bit different from Pachara's character in the movie. In the movie, of course they need to make the character stronger than reality, but one thing that both of us have in common is we both have high ambition in our lives.
Q: What is your impression of "The Billionaire"? Would you say that it is an accurate description of your success and are you happy with the final product?
Ittipat: About 80% in the movie is true. I'm very satisfied for the overall of the final cut. At least, the story in the movie shows lots of obstructions and I never surrender. You can be weak, but never surrender in order to keep the game going. This movie could become a great source of inspiration for the new entrepreneurs.
Q: At 26, you are already a Billionaire, what else is there to look forward to when you already have it all at such a young age? Are there any more hidden dreams you may want to pursue?
Ittipat: Yes, there are two things I am looking forward to do next. First, I want to make my brand Taokaenoi as a worldwide brand like McDonald's or Lays, which you can find anywhere in the world. Secondly, at the moment in Taokaenoi, I need to take care of 2,000 employees and their family members. So we are trying to make Taokaenoi Food & Marketing Co. Ltd. to be a public company soon (perhaps within this year), so that all Taokaenoi staff will get a better life and be more stable in terms of their careers.
Q: Of all the snacks there is, why Seaweed?
Ittipat: As my first business was the Roasted Chestnut shop which was located in shopping malls such as Tesco, Carrefour and more, I had over 30 branches which brought in sales of 3 million baht a month. One day Tesco's management (where over 25 of our branches were located) didn't allow us to have the roasting machine at our booths because its smoke carried the smell over the mall and dirtied the store's ceiling. As no cooking activity was allowed, then the sales of the chestnut dropped vastly by 50 per cent. To make up for it I then tried selling dried fruit as well as seaweed. After a few months, the seaweed became the best-selling product of the booth and it took over the Chestnut sales. Once I saw the potential with that, I produced more of it with 6 employees working at the kitchen in my house.
Q: Apart from "The Billionaire" of course, what are some of your favourite movies?
Ittipat: "Transformers"! In the movie, the robots could not keep themselves as robotic aliens all the time, they had to transform into vehicles on the street. In my real life, during work, I have to be the CEO of Taokaenoi, at home, I have to be a kid for my parents, during a party, I have to be the friendly, talkative guy among friends. I have to transform myself depending to the circumstances.
Q: For a young and good-looking Billionaire such as yourself, we are sure you have all the luck with the ladies. Are you currently single? For the hopefuls out there, what are the things you look for in your 'dream girl'?
Ittipat: Actually I'm already married for eight years. I really love my wife. She is very kind, supportive and beautiful. I take good care of her and I always make sure that I will spend lots of my time with her. My companion must be able to accept my workaholic attitude. I also prefer a girl who looks like my mother. She is very kind, very supportive, and very bountiful.
Q: Would you like to give some advice to those who wish to make it big like what you did?
Ittipat: My tips for success are that based on four points which is Love, Giving, Sacrifice and Happiness. If you love what you do, you will automatically have a success rate of 50 per cent. That 50 per cent will help you deal with things that you don't love such as accounting, marketing and human resource. The second is that you need to be Giving, especially when it comes to money and time. Sacrifice comes next, you need to lose something before getting something. When you're first starting out, you would be just like a small fish in a big ocean and many will try to take advantage, but you have to be smart. When I first approached 7-11 to carry Taokaenoi, they asked for 40 per cent for their GP & Listing fee. If I had refused to loose sacrifice that day, there will be no Taokaenoi today. Lastly, you need to be happy with what you have. If you get rich and successful but are not happy then whatever you do will be meaningless. For over eight years, I wake up in the morning and go to work with high passion. I know I am happy with my job.