In an eastern province better known for rambutans and durians , Don Kogen , 34 , chief executive of Nuntiya Care Stone , has set up Thaigem.com , the world's largest online gem-trading portal , as well as several e-commerce web sites
friendly manner has endeared him to local people , earning him the nickname Don Gate.To them and their economic future , he's
more important than the Microsoft founder.
Thaigem.com alone earns Mr Kogen
at least 30 million baht a month.He
expects the monthly figure to exceed 100 million baht within four months.
first went online in January last year , monthly takings were barely one million baht.Now Thaigem.com claims to handle at least 92 % of the global online gem and jewellery trade.His
project has caught the eye of a dozen investment bankers who want to help the company list on the tech-laden Nasdaq.Mr Kogen
is ready to join the North American stock market if it will benefit his
Thaigem's rapid growth is also attracting foreign investors , with some offering more than US$80 million for a 75 % stake in Nuntiya Care Stone.Mr Kogen
, who settled in Chanthaburi 13 years ago , began his
cyber venture with 100 , 000 baht as start-up capital.He's
not just interested in making money in the town ; he
loves the lifestyle and wants to improve conditions for local people.He
has launched several charity projects such as free computer and English-language schooling for children , free Internet access , scholarships for children and free development of a homepage for police stations in Chanthaburi province.
Locals can now get in touch with police online.
Recently , he
developed a free Internet platform for more than 200 provincial gem merchants , mine owners and cutting houses.
All these achievements have won him respect throughout the province.At the same time , his
business has grown rapidly from three employees and a few million.
Nuntiya Care Stone now has 50 million baht registered capital , up from an initial two million.
It has invested 200 million baht on Internet software and back-office technology , including leasing a high-capacity line from Loxley Information Service , one of the local Internet service providers.Mr Kogen
says the Internet has been wonderful for his
business.It now has just over 350 staff and expects to have 900 by the end of this year.He
now operates seven factories.One of these is located abroad , in Jaipur , India , where it produces beads and has 200 workers.
The Internet is one of the key factors.But the most important is to be prepared to fight to the death , he
says , recalling that he
three founding staff members , whose ages averaged 21 years at the time , never slept for four consecutive days before launching the online site.
In doing business via the Internet , you have to be quick and dedicated to ensure maximum customer satisfaction , and the products must be offered at cheap prices..
As the products we sell are cheaper in price than in shops only 5 % of products are returned , Mr Kogen
The company's transactions are insured with Lloyd's of London
, while payments are made through Fidelity Finance Merchant Bank
Thaigem charges a fixed $15 delivery charge , plus customs tax and insurance , for shipments below US$1 , 000 , but all charges are waived for bigger orders.
Thaigem has registered 900 , 000 database users of its site.Between 1.2 million and 1.5 million hits , or visits to the site , are recorded each month.
To cover a broader range of online business , Mr Kogen
is expanding his
range of e-commerce sites.Atommart.com , asianmarts.com and elitegem.com are already up and running.Several more are to be launched later this year.
We've completed our final e-solution and have our platforms , but it's just the beginning for Thaigem.We're ready to fly even higher , Mr Kogen
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