By Hoài Nam
Viet Nam News
ĐÀ NẴNG — Đà Nẵng City resident Mai Nguyễn Công Thuận, 20, was inspired by road-trip adventures with friends in remote mountainous areas in Việt Nam to design the first made-in-Việt Nam multi-purpose jacket—a jacket, sleeping bag and packpack—for off-road trekkers and people in flood-affected areas.
Thuận and his five-member team (C-TEK team), comprised of friends and fellow students at his city’s Economics College, began manufacturing the jacket with domestic material and design this March. The jacket won first prize at the Đà Nẵng Startup Runway 2017, with the award of a four-week training course at Ireland’s Cork Institute of Technology.
Thuận, a third-year student in the commerce faculty of the Đà Nẵng Economics College, was the only representative of Đà Nẵng and one of 17 Vietnamese young people participating in the 2017 APEC Voices of the Future – a forum for youths from APEC’s 21 economies – in Đà Nẵng city on November 6-11th.
“It’s a great honour for me representing Đà Nẵng at APEC in my home town. Our team, three members from our college and two others of Duy Tân and Architect Colleges in Đà Nẵng, took three months to debut the SleepJ for competition at the Đà Nẵng Startup Runway 2017,” Thuận told the Việt Nam News at the sidelines of the APEC Voices of the Future.
“I and Lý Thu Uyên spent time designing and cutting the cloth, while others worked on different sections of the jacket,” he said.
The Đà Nẵng-born student said devising a design to contain the other functions of the jacket was especially time-consuming.
He said adventure-seekers traveling on motorbikes often take tents, sleeping bags and packs with them for long trips. Carrying heavy luggage on their bikes is inconvenient.
Mai Nguyễn Công Thuận, 20, from Đà Nẵng City, joins the APEC Voices of the Future event. He and his friends designed the first made-in-Việt Nam multi-purpose jacket (SleepJ) – a jacket, sleeping bag and pack – for off-road trippers and residents living in flood-stricken areas in central Việt Nam. — VNS Photo Công Thành
The first sample of the SleepJ, which costs around VNĐ500,000 (US$22) and is made with local material, is quite reasonable for off-road trippers, but it may be expensive to poor people living in remote mountainous areas and flood-vulnerable villages.
“We witnessed residents suffering from homelessness and a lack of facilities when their homes were washed away by floods during the rainy and storm season in central Việt Nam. That tragedy urged us to make the cheaper SleepJ for disaster victims,” Thuận said.
“And the APEC Voices of the Future is a great opportunity for us to exchange ideas with investors about mass producing multi-purpose jackets for poor people in the disaster-stricken areas in Việt Nam and other countries,” he said.
Uyên, a member of the C-TEK team, who did not join the APEC event, said the SleepJ is very convenient for backpackers, homeless people, night ship workers and flood affected residents.
Currently, the C-TEK team has been embedding a small anti-mosquito device into the jacket and other products on the base of the SleepJ.
In addition to developing the multi-purpose jacket, Thuận has also developed a tour-guide programme, Đà Nẵng Free Walking Tour, which provides foreign tourists visiting Đà Nẵng with local guides.
The programme aims at creating opportunities for young students to practice English communication, while promoting the hospitality of Đà Nẵng and central Việt Nam to tourists.
Statistics from the National Tourism Administration of Việt Nam revealed that backpacker and off-road trippers accounted for 18.4 per cent of revenue from the country’s tourism.
Thuận hopes the APEC Voices of the Future event will help his product grow, and he is excited that Đà Nẵng has launched its own business incubator campaign for young people seeking chances to develop ideas into entrepreneurial products.
His said the SleepJ has just been completed as a prototype, and it needs more work before it can be sold in Việt Nam and foreign markets. — VNS