Feiy’s Impact Series :  Interview with gre3n founder Thames Wangpatravanich


For Feiy’s Impact Series our writer in residence Nika Dulevich is talking to entrepreneurs who pursue a path greater than just profit and strive to contribute to the greater good with their products and services. 

The business owner she talked to this time is Thames Wangpatravanich, the founder of gre3n, a Shanghai wellness start-up that utilizes healthy Thai coconut products as a tool to promote the balance and conscious lifestyle to fast-paced city lives.


这次所对话的企业家是 Gre3n的创始人,上海注重健康发展的初创企业家,运用健康的泰国椰子产品作为工具在快节奏的城市里去提倡平衡和有意识的生活方式。



How did gre3n start? And how did the first years of the company look like?


I’m going to speak from my perspective, but the company was started by the three of us, while two other co-founders left after the first year. 

I was doing yoga in Shanghai and didn’t know what to do with my life. The opportunity came during a yoga class when my ex-business partners came to me and said, “Are you interested in doing coconut water business in China? There’s a trend in the US and we know it will soon come to Asia too.” 

So I thought, “Why not. I’m from Thailand and I am well connected there.” That’s how we started gre3n. Purely from the financial perspective, I wanted to have a comfortable life, earn enough money. After a year, with our team of young, inexperienced people, things were going badly, we didn’t understand how to run a business and didn’t have enough financial or human resources. So after the first year, my ex-business partners decided to leave.

At the time, I was responsible for logistics, outsourcing, and finding farmers in Thailand. But from that moment on I became the managing director of the company. So I had to do all the sales and marketing myself, without knowing how to do it. As the job became very stressful, I thought to myself, “Should I just quit, go back to Thailand and drink coconuts on the beach? It’s so much easier.” But then I realized, I have been giving up my whole life and this is the time it is going to change. I didn’t know how to run a company, but I just kept doing it.

And after six months of confusion and forcing myself to just keep going, a group of investors saw the potential in the project and invested in the company. From that point on, the company grew and has never been the same since.


Gre3n 是怎么开始的?公司的第一年是看起来怎样的?






在半年的困惑里也逼着自己继续坚持,一些投资人看到了我们项目的潜力,随后进行了投资,从那时候开始,公司的 业绩增长且发展的越来越好。


What do you think of your competition? What if more companies get into conscious wellness and using coconuts in particular, would you welcome it? 


It’s not really about what we want, it’s going to happen anyway. The only thing we can do is to accept what is and keep moving, be balanced, believe, and be different. This is our philosophy. When you are different, there’s the real value generated and when there’s real value, there is always room, niche markets as well as people who believe in the same thing as you, and that’s where you can make money. So to answer your question: I welcome everything, especially when we talk about conscious living. We need more of it on the market. 




这个由我做不了主它还是会发生的。唯一的事我们可以做的就是接受它和继续努力平衡相信 和变得与众不同。这是我们的企业理念,当你和别人不一样时,会有一个真正的价值在孵化, 当有一个真正价值时,总会有一个市场空间,瞄准机会的市场还有和你有相同价值观的人。慢慢你也会从中获利。所以回答你的问题,我欢迎所有的,尤其是当我们谈到意识生活。我们需要在市场上有更多这样的想法。



In general, do you think of the impact-driven business world as more of a game of competition or a place of cooperation? How does it affect how you operate and develop gre3n?


Darwin came up with the theory of evolution, which is about how people survive because of the competition. It seems, however, that people just take half of what Darwin said, while the other half is about cooperation. In nature, everyone competes for survival, but most importantly, everyone also cooperates for survival. So I think, the impact-driven business has to have both. It has to have competition at a healthy level, and not just driven by capital. At the same time I think it’s all about cooperation because if we talk about conscious wellness impact-driven businesses, you cannot do it all alone. It’s a new mindset for most, and the more people talk about it, cooperate about it, the more we can speed up its progress.


正常情况下,你觉得影响力为目标的理念的生意是作为一个竞争者的游戏还是合作的过程?这对你运营和发展gre3n 有什么影响?




Where does the name gre3n come from? Why is it spelled this way?


This name wasn’t my idea, my business-partners came up with it. We needed to find a name that even a high school student in China would understand. So we thought “green” is easy and fits our sustainable approach. And then we changed the second “e” to 3 because there were three of us.

However, after the first year, when everyone left, I asked myself what I stood for, and today 3 in our brand name stands for Balance, Believe and Be different. Balance is there because I think to live happily, we need to find an everyday balance in terms of input and output, tangible and intangible. Believing in ourselves is crucial. After the first year with the company, I almost gave up many times, but I held on strongly to the decision I made. The success of almost everything in life depends on how much we believe in ourselves. And the last, but not least, be different. The value of everything you do comes back to how different you are. You don’t have to follow what the society dictates to you, it’s okay to be different, be yourself and be happy. 





 然而,在第一年后,当所有人都离开。我问我自己的立场是什么?今天我们的名字代表是平衡,相信和变得与众不同。平衡是因为我觉得要生活的开心,我们需要去找到每日的输入或产出的,有形或无形的平衡。相信我们自己非常重要。在第一年的创业里,我很多次想放弃。但是我守着我的立场,坚信了我所下的决定。 几乎所有的成功取决于我们有多相信自己。但是最起码,变得与众不同。你按照你价值观岁所做的所有事情,让你变的与众不同。你不必跟风。独一无二其实很好,做你自己,变得开心。



What has been one key factor in gre3n's success? What has been your biggest challenge? 


The key success factor would be the intention. If we were doing this just to earn money, we would have closed down after the first six months, because it wasn’t worth it. Why would you go through all of this stress, just to make a living? For me, happiness has become the number one factor. And as a consequence of the fact that I want to be happy and I’m sure everyone wants to be happy too, we confirmed our intention as a company. In the end, everyone has to figure out how to be happy for themselves, but what we as a company can do is to provide options to choose from while being genuine and sincere in our message. Most of our clients are people who say, “We like the people behind this project so we will support it.” Of course, the quality of the products also matters, but the biggest motivation is intention. 

Our biggest challenge is the game we are in. The company is a for-profit business and coconut water is 15RMB to 25 RMB per can, so we have to fill a million cans to go somewhere. It’s still a cash game, meaning that we cannot do it ourselves, we need to have investors. And often investors don’t get involved for the same reason we do – to create a positive impact in the world. They do it for the potential and brand value, and we have to adapt our decisions to them because that’s how the commercial world works. So our biggest challenge would be not having financial back-up from people who believe in the same thing.


什么是gre3n 的成功的主要因素?gre3n最大的挑战是什么?


我们成功的最主要的因素是意识。如果我们只是为了盈利。应该在刚开始的6个月就歇业了,因为并不值得。为什么你要承受这么多压力,就是为了生存吗?对我来说,幸福是第一个因素。作为一个事实的推论,我肯定每个人都想变的开心与愉悦。当确定了我们公司的理念。人到最后,每个人都应该琢磨如何让自己开心。但是我们作为一个公司我们可以传递的是真实与诚恳的信息。 大多数我们的顾客说我们喜欢公司的背后的人,所以我们一直支持它当然产品的质量也是重点。但我们最大的动力是自我意识。

我们最大的挑战是我们身处的游戏。 公司是一个营利型公司。椰子水是1525人民币每听,我们需要装百万的椰子水到各个地方。还是一个金钱游戏,因为单单我们自己的力量是不行的,我们还需要投资者。一般投资者他们的参与的原因和我们并不相同----去为这个世界创造一个积极的影响。他们投资是因为产品的潜力和品牌的价值。我们必须让投资者适应我们的决定,因为这些才是是现在商业运作的模式,所以我们最大的挑战是没有和我们同样相信的投资者。



What has been your biggest lesson learned throughout the years working with coconut water in China?


Every lesson is a big lesson, but I would say that the biggest one is about people and intentions, as I mentioned above. People misunderstand intention as a sort of compulsive decision-making pattern, like today I want to be a good person but tomorrow I’m not feeling well, so I’m going to be mean. The intention is not that. It is something that has been cultivated throughout your life, it’s your North Star. To give you an example, I am now starting to work on a new project. First I asked myself, do I really want to do this or do I just want to escape China, what is the real reason? After many hours of meditating and reflecting I understood that either I die or I do this. And once I got to that point things started to go accordingly, meaning that people that can contribute to it are coming in, or resources somehow appear. When you are conscious and certain about your intention, you meet more people with the same intention or direction. Having the right intention leads things to go the way I want to. 




每个经验都是一个大的经验,但是我想说最大的经验是与人和意识,就是我之前所提及的。人们错把意识认为是加剧决策的形式,比如我今天想变成一个好人,但是明天我心情不好我就变得很恶劣。意识不是那个,是在你生命中生成的东西。是你的北极星,举个例子,我现在要开展一个新的项目。第一我问我自己,我是不是真的想做这个,还是离开中国,什么是这个决策的真正的原因?在很长时间的打坐和思考后, 我理解,要不我放弃要不我坚持下去。如果都确定那个重点,其他的都会陆续开展,人和资源信息都在展开。当你有意识和确信你的重点时,你会遇到相同价值观和方向的人。正确的意识会带领我们一直想要去的地方。


What are your plans for the future of gre3n? How do you plan to revolutionize the health and wellness industries?


We want to focus more to the F&B industry, like restaurants and bars. Earlier, we were focused on the health and wellness market, but in the past year, we learned that this market is still relatively small compared to the much larger F&B industry, like larger restaurants, bars, and clubs. So in the future, we want to occupy the cool and healthy but relatively untouched territory of the traditional F&B market. 

How are we hoping to revolutionize the health and wellness industry? I would like to lead this industry to a more conscious lifestyle. At the end of the day, it’s all about balance. If we want to be healthy, we shouldn’t suddenly cut out everything. That’s unhealthy too because it can create a lot of resistance. So I see gre3n as a tool for people who haven’t gotten into wellness yet, but they want to know how they can contribute to sustainability. They can take our business and our message as an example and learn as well as support the industry by supporting us.


你对gre3n 的未来有什么计划吗? 你是想计划怎么改革健康产业?



 我们希望如何去改革健康的产业? 我想引导这个产业变成更加有意识的生活方式。最终,人们也都是追寻平衡。如果人们想变的健康,我们不应该切段所有。这也是不健康的,因为这会产生很多阻力。所以我看gre3n作为一个切入点给有些并不注重的健康生活方式的人,但是他们可以对可持续发展作出贡献。他们可以已我们的产品和所传递的信息作为一个例子,也支持我们的产品和相同的市场。



What advice would you give to entrepreneurial individuals who would like to make a positive impact in the world?


No matter an entrepreneur or not, the first question I would always ask is: who am I? The second question is: why? Why are we doing what we are doing? Keep asking yourself that without being biased. Once we find out who we are, we find out what we want to do. And once we know what we want to do, it translates into an honest passion for our business. I think every business should be about creating a better world and not only about financial success. Whatever we do, we need to go through the smallest scale first, which is “who we are” and after we know that we can build anything that follows our belief and value system.




不管你是否是企业家,第一个问题我想问: 我是谁? 第二个问题是:为什么?为什么我们坚持做我们想做的?不要带有任何偏见的问问自己。当我们开始找到自己。我们也会找知道要做什么。一旦我们知道我们要做什么,这个会转换成对我们生意的一种最真实的热爱。我想每个生意应该是为了让世界越来越好而不仅仅为了经济上的成功。不管我们做什么,我们都应该从最小的范围开始,就是而来我们知道我们所建立的所有会随着我们的相信与价值系统而来。


How did you build your team? What advice would you give those thinking of starting an impact-driven business in terms of building a team?


The first questions I always ask when I hire someone are the same as above – who are you? What is your passion? And sadly, nearly 100% of the people don’t know how to answer these questions. In my opinion, it’s important to know their intentions and whether they are aligned with the company’s intentions. If they are, then we can work together for a long time. ¬It’s the same with passion, it is not as important how much he or she is paid, as long as they are excited to get up in the morning and go to sleep peacefully every night. However, this is often far from reality, especially in China. So my goal in the company is to inspire my team to be more conscious human beings. A big part of my job is to share content that I think is useful in terms of being a human, being conscious because sustainability is about being a conscious human being.







Gre3n was born in 2014 in Shanghai, since then you have been developing rapidly. How do you scale your impact? And what advice would you give to those who want to scale their sustainable ventures? 


To scale impact we have to focus on building a community and gather people who share the same beliefs and lifestyle, and then we can grow and scale our impact organically. I don’t think using money will work this way. Money works well with distraction and sensual pleasures but with sustainability, you have to touch people’s hearts. You have to build a community and do it organically. And as the understanding of and consciousness towards wellness and sustainability have been growing, the community and its impact have been growing as well. I believe that’s the way.


Gre3n 2014年在开始的,自从那时候开始你们的发展迅速生长。你是怎样扩展你的影响力?你可以给也想可持续发展为目的的企业哪些建议?




If you were to do it all over again, what would you do differently, if anything?


To be honest, I never asked myself this question, because I feel like there are so many external elements that I don’t know. When people try to change their path, they come face to face with different elements that are at play. So I don’t ask such questions, but what I do is embrace whatever happens in my life, because there is no such thing as a bad experience, there’s just experience. Either you choose to like it or not, that’s your responsibility. So I choose to have everything perfectly as it was and be who I am today.







How can we as consumers encourage companies to have more sustainable products and practices?


I would say this is very difficult because the market is not controlled by the consumer. The market is dictated by the conglomerate. There are a few conglomerate companies in the world that control all consumer products. Whatever they think they can reduce the cost of and have a bigger margin on, that’s what they push out. Then they invest tens of millions of dollars in advertising per year, have KOL (key opinion leaders) to influence the consumer to sell the product. So, I don’t think consumers have much of a say, even though we hope it to be the case.

The truth is, people should meditate more, listen to their hearts, not their heads, and build a balanced, conscious lifestyle. Once people become more conscious, they can encourage companies to be more sustainable. A company is run by money, it’s the same thing with us. And the money doesn’t come because someone said, “this company is so conscious, let me give them my money.” Most consumers see advertisements, KOL, movie stars, etc.

So to get back to the question, I think the consumer needs to be conscious about who we are, our thoughts, our emotions, and our decisions. Because if we can do this, we can make the conglomerate see that we are not stupid, we are conscious, they cannot control us, and they have to make a change. And then they will be forced to create more companies that serve the right purpose.








Can you give us an example of a conglomerate?


Let’s talk about the F&B market. The food and beverage industry has been high-jacked a long time ago. Most of the products have been made for people to get addicted so that they can sell more. And that’s because it’s all about profit. I don’t want to mention the name of the company, but they are an umbrella company where they have a lot of brands in the market to make us feel like “there are market trends.”







As a consumer and individual, how do you contribute to environmental and social well-being?


First, we come back to ourselves. Whatever we do starts from who we are. To be conscious, we need to have the right mindset, and to obtain this healthy and right mindset we need to have a healthy body. If we don’t feel comfortable if we are sick or unwell, it’s really difficult for a person to make decisions consciously. And if you cannot make decisions consciously, you cannot contribute to the environment and social wellbeing. But if we have a balanced way of living, everything we do contributes to the environment. On the other hand, we influence each other all the time – consciously, unconsciously, directly, indirectly. So by being the best version of ourselves, by being aware, we affect the society and the environment positively.






Who do you think plays a bigger role in driving sustainable change: governments, businesses, or consumers?


If we talk about China, I would say government. If we talk about America, then it’s businesses, because that’s where the political campaign money comes from. And consumers are just sheep.






You don’t think consumers have any sort of impact?


Well, you asked who plays a bigger role. Everyone has their role to play, it’s that the consumer doesn’t have a big influence. We can talk about revolution, for example. When people are fed up with the government and businesses, they start a coup. However, I doubt that it leads to sustainable change and impact. Because normally the people at the bottom don’t understand what power the people at the top have, and how it influences decisions they make. So that’s why I think the biggest role in this socialist country goes to the government. And for half-democratic countries, it’s about business. The reason I say half-democratic is because to me there is no real democracy, it is all manipulated by money.







What does success mean to you?


Success to me is to be able to get up early every morning without forcing myself because I’m so excited and passionate about every minute. And then at night, I should think, “I have done so much that is meaningful to me and the people around me today”, and I can sleep peacefully, or can die peacefully. For me, that is a success. 






What impact do you want to make in the world? And how far are you into making it?


This is more about my new project. I first want to start with Thailand and create a sustainable resort with a learning and healing functionality. I think there are a lot of people interested in sustainability, but don’t know how to incorporate it in their lives. This project will help them to learn and observe. Here they will learn how to be happy and emotionally intelligent, how to grow your food, how to create things that don’t have too much negative impact on the environment. Once we have this kind of society, everything we do will tend to go towards generating a positive impact. So I want to play a big role in improving the foundation of the education system in Thailand. 




这个更关乎我新的项目,我想首先在泰国去创造拥有学习和治疗的功能的可持续发展的度假村。 有很多人对可持续发展感兴趣,但是他们并不知道怎么与生活结合起来。这个项目会帮他们学习与探索。这里他们会学习怎样变得开心和调节情绪能力。如何种食物,如何制造的东西对环境没有太大的影响。一旦我们有这样的社区,我们企图去做的所有的事都会趋向转化成积极的效果。所以我想在改善泰国教学系统上扮演一个很重要的角色。


What is your Why? Why are you doing what you are doing, personally and professionally?


I do it because it makes me feel good. It’s as simple as that. And to tell you the truth, my professional and personal self is the same thing, it has already become one. I don’t want to just go to the office, then come back and try to rebalance myself, I want my work to be about rebalancing myself.






How would you like to be remembered?


I would like it that when people think of me, they smile. That’s it.






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