Viet Nam News
Nina Vaca, US Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship
What do you suggest for startup businesses in Việt Nam?
I think Việt Nam creates an incredible opportunity for startups; we’re very excited that angel investors have travelled from Việt Nam to the United States and we have great hopes for the people of Việt Nam. My advice for startups in Việt Nam is to take advantage of the entrepreneur ecosystems that are available.
Through these networks and ecosystems, businesses should find not only investment but also employees, associates and access to other aids, which will allow them to bridge the gap between a new startup and a successful entrepreneur.
I’ve found that the Vietnamese community has a strong work ethic and a very natural sense of entrepreneurship, both in here and in the United States. So again I would advise them to take advantage of those ecosystems, organisations, chambers or councils, from local ones to national ones, that can help elevate their profile so that people can know who they are.
The US programme of Global Innovation in Science and Technology is a perfect example of how they can bring you lessons, exposure and funding.
Human resources and human capital are the difference between success and failure for a business, and I would advise you to focus on human resources development too.
What do you think Vietnamese startups should do to attract investors?
One of the main reasons the White House is bringing Vietnamese angel investors to the United States is the notion of investing in Việt Nam and giving Vietnamese businesses their own wealthy investors right here, in addition to recruiting talented people to reinvest in the community. So, these successful businesses in Việt Nam will give back by investing again.
The fastest developing field for startups right now is the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) field, along with several industries like healthcare, with the underlining of STEM education, so I would suggest focusing closely on this field as well.
There are great opportunities in the country and in the world, so another piece of advice is to continue on your path. My message to the Vietnamese startup community is that it’s okay to fail, but it’s also in your weakest moment that you find your strength.
Đặng Hương Giang
Can you tell us about the role and impact of angel investors?
Angel investors play a basic role in creating the startup ecosystem. They are entrepreneurs who have succeeded to some degree in their own business, with experience and funding to reinvest in later startups.
Their primary objective is to finance new startups based on their own knowledge and understanding for market demand. Their secondary objective is to operate the company and make new networks to support the startup.
On the whole this is mentorship, in which the angel investors provide the startup with knowledge, experience and even relationships to help the startup move onto the next level.
Do you have any other advice for domestic startups?
The first and foremost thing to do is to really focus on the product and the service that they are delivering to the customers. In an ecosystem, there can be a lot of noises and distraction from different people, but the startup themselves must know their own product and devote themselves completely to the field at hand.
Even when they come to mentors for advice, they must still use their intuition to see for themselves and make their own decisions. And should they have to pivot to a new field, they should only do so if they truly understand their motives and have tried their best.
So again, besides developing human resources, creating networks, ecosystems and finding the appropriate field of operation, focusing is the most important thing a startup can do.
What is your take on the startup environment in Việt Nam now?
Our spirit is high and we are determined, although our ecosystem is still young. Startups have yet to learn much about business, as in marketing, accounting or just operating in general. In other countries, there are incubation programmes to help these startups, so I would say the first step to turn startup founders into more well rounded and capable of running a company own their own would be to have these incubation programmes in Việt Nam.
I’m confident and positive about the future of startup businesses in Việt Nam. The movement is going well with support from the government as well as other large companies, or from individuals like us. So I’d say that the environment is in good hands to move up in the world. — VNS