US program nurtures young Vietnamese entrepreneurs

16:32 | 10/09/2017 Economy- Society

(VEN) - The FUV YSEALI Summer School 2017, sponsored by the US Mission to Vietnam and held by Fulbright University, Vietnam (FUV) in late July, provided young learners with valuable startup knowledge.

us program nurtures young vietnamese entrepreneurs

FUV YSEALI Summer School 2017 participants

Launched in 2013, the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) is designed to strengthen partnerships with emerging leaders in Southeast Asia; to expand their skills as effective civic, economic and non-governmental leaders in the region; and to encourage them to work together across borders to solve regional challenges.

The 2017 FUV YSEALI Summer School hosted some 40 young Vietnamese for a one-week program in Ho Chi Minh City, where they were exposed to various entrepreneurs and innovators.

Nguyen Trung Tin, for example, the CEO of the Trung Thuy Group, described to participants how he founded the DreamPlex co-working space to assist real startup entrepreneurs, creators, consultants and investors to work collaboratively or privately. DreamPlex creates a community that encourages meaningful connections – the ones that lead to professional collaboration, mutual support and cross-pollination of ideas.

Addressing the FUV YSEALI Summer School 2017 participants at DreamPlex, Tin said he started out with four companies with four different business models, and realized that almost everything about them and about the market and customers was different from his initial expectations.

DreamPlex will increase cooperation with foreign organizations and associations such as the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), the European Chamber of Commerce (EuroCham), and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CanCham) to help Vietnam's startup community grow and be recognized and assisted internationally.

Tin said although all areas have potential, startup entrepreneurs should determine their strengths and weaknesses and avoid fields to which others are rushing, such as e-commerce and online education, and only choose those fields when they can be sure of creating a difference or have great resources.

Experts say seeking capital has become one of the biggest difficulties for startup projects. The Vietnamese venture capital market has attracted a number of foreign investment funds including the Cyber ​​Agent (Japan), Golden Gate Venture (Singapore), IDG, 500 Startup (US). While these funds are financially strong, startup projects in general in Vietnam are mostly incapable of satisfying the funds’ conditions. Entrepreneurs have to work hard to prove to the fund managers their ability and feasibility of their ideas, Tin said.

A startup wave is washing over Vietnam, with about 15,000 startups mainly found in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam has become a potential venture capital market not only for foreign funds, such as IDG Ventures Vietnam, Cyber ​​Agent, Mekong Capital, and DFJ Vina Capital, but also for domestic funds, such as SeedCom, FPT Ventures, and CMC Innovation Fund.

Ngoc Thao