Vietnamese come home to seek more meaningful ventures

March 30, 2020 - 10:00

Kevin Tùng Nguyễn, who co-founded the San Francisco-based K-Source, a software firm with over 200 employees, and Ivylish – a business operating to support orphans and disadvantaged children in developing countries, returned to Viet Nam in 2015.


Kevin Tùng Nguyễn (right) attends the Forbes Under 30 Summit Asia 2019 in Hong Kong. He is among four Vietnamese start-ups to be honoured by the Forbes magazine. Photos courtesy of Kevin Tùng Nguyễn 

Khánh Linh - Thu Vân

HÀ NỘI — Kevin Tùng Nguyễn, who co-founded the San Francisco-based K-Source, a software firm with over 200 employees, and Ivylish – a business operating to support orphans and disadvantaged children in developing countries, returned to Việt Nam in 2015.

He believed he’ll be of more meaningful use in his homeland.

Kevin, who graduated from the University of Arizona and then earned a master’s degree in management at Stanford University, came back to support a friend, who was at the time the co-founder of Icare Benefits, which aims to improve the living standards of workers around the world through the Icare Benefits programme.

He worked on a project called Ivycare, providing personnel to the Icare programme.  In 2017, he rolled out JopHop and started to work on it as an independent recruitment service firm: one that uses Artificial Intelligence and machine learning to simplify and streamline the recruiting process for human resource managers.

“I believe Việt Nam is a labour market full of potential,” Kevin said.

The young Vietnamese generation are no less vibrant, active and dynamic than their international peers, he said, but their biggest problem is future career orientation.

“They just study and take the exams, after graduation they will find something not right, and when they want to change professional path, they don’t know what to do,” he said.

Meanwhile, the problem for employers, Kevin said, is the fact that most of the recruitment companies now perform the process of recruiting talented people in the traditional way, using human resources to do the smallest jobs, from filtering CVs to sending interview reminders to candidates.

JobHop was born to address these problems.

It focuses on tackling the critical timing and fit problems for both recruiters and job seekers by using artificial intelligence (AI), data science, and blockchain, in the context of Việt Nam’s increasing demand for highly-skilled and qualified workers.

For those who seek jobs, JobHop quickly became a bridge connecting candidates with businesses in the market. JobHop's AI technology automates the CV/resume quality assessment, so candidates can know which job they are more suited to and then can make their own career decisions easily.

They can track the entire recruitment process on JobHop’s job application and receive interview reminders, as well as job-oriented content which are personalised using big data analytics.

For recruiters, JobHop is an even greater stride.

Unlike traditional head-hunters or online job boards, the matchmaking platform utilises AI-powered solutions to analyse, evaluate and connect job seekers and businesses more efficiently.

“JobHop’s AI was created to replace humans perfectly. JobHop optimises repetitive jobs, eliminating prejudices and limits of information of the labour market when people do manual CV screening,” Kevin said.

With this technology, AI can screen and connect more than 50,000 CVs per day based on job descriptions and recruitment criteria of each enterprise and provide quick and effective hiring results, but more economically.

“Employers will find suitable candidates in the shortest time with much lower cost than traditional recruitment channels,” he said.

In addition, the superiority of JobHop comes from three important points: Job Score, HOP Score and Match Score. These scores are calculated basing on the information provided by employers and candidates using the app.  

Job Score reflects the attractiveness of the job in the market that employers target.

“With Job Score, you will easily know if the job and you are meant to be,” Kevin joked.

HOP Score represents the "personal brand value" of each candidate. The score evaluates candidates' behaviour with employers and related parties.

This score will be converted into employees’ salary, making it easy for candidates to negotiate with the employer during the interview. 

The Match Score element is a scale that measures the suitability of a CV and a job description. The higher the Match Score, the higher the candidate's match to the job.

“With these three factors, JobHop wants to give the job market the most objective view of suitability, eliminating sentimental assessments which are not based on accurate assessment of candidates or jobs,” Kevin said.

Going further, he believed with the application of high technology in the organisation, managers can honestly and objectively assess the performance of each employee. Reasonable management tools will help effectively control the workload of each employee.

Over the last two years, it has helped more than 300 customers, connected candidates with over 80,000 jobs, and received many positive reviews from top employers in Việt Nam.

In the near future, it aims to become the most reliable link between the Vietnamese workforce and reputable international businesses. JobHop also hopes to work closely with MoLISA to create a technological ecosystem that not only fosters smarter recruitment but also greater collaboration between today’s new generation of talent, non-profit organisations, and especially social enterprises, ultimately aiming to alleviate the imbalance between worker supply and demand in Việt Nam.  

Start-up in VN

Kevin hopes that in the future, his start-up will grow to more than 100 employees. The IT section is expected to consist of three groups: the AI team focusing on algorithms, supervising training, data labeling; the Engineer team; and the Product Design team.

“We still have a lot of difficulties ahead, but being successful as a start-up is not a matter of a day or a night,” he said.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Việt Nam is one of the fastest growing markets and holds huge opportunities for young entrepreneurs.

Taking the chances in an extremely fast growing environment like Việt Nam will be much more interesting than in a saturated market like other developed countries, especially when there are many problems in the country that need to be addressed, Kevin said.

“The human factor is the premise for the success or failure of a start-up. If one selects a companion with inexperienced and unstable expertise, she or he will quickly come to an end,” he said.

Besides, any business that wants to survive and develop for a long time needs to set up a technology team to help them solve important issues such as online sales, online communication, website building and customer information data storage, as well as privacy.

The second and most difficult problem of any start-up is raising capital. In addition to a plan with specific data and commitment to payback, start-ups also need to prove their growth potential in the domestic or international market.

“The market is changing every day in any field and choosing to be a start-up means continuously facing challenges. However, if you know how to solve the problem and wisely watch the market, I believe any difficulties will pass and the business will develop in a positive direction,” he said.

In his opinion, one should only found a start-up when she or he has: some years of experience going to work for a firm with good, competent leaders; a certain amount of savings that they can risk investing; and finally a social and business network that is wide enough to have potential customers or partners.

If one starts his career in technology, the revenue and the potential for rapid growth in your technology product will solve all other problems. Starting a business at an early stage, one must understand that customers do not pay for the company's products or services because of their state-of-the-art technological innovations, but because of the positive experience the company brings.

In the early stage, the founder's experience, passion and sales ability are the most important factors to be invested, he said.

Kevin Tùng Nguyễn is one of the young people in the Forbes' 30 Under 30 Asia list for 2019. — VNS