The opinions of local and foreign insiders about Vietnam’s Millennial entrepreneurs.
Ms. Ninh Do, Country Marketing Manager (Vietnam), Google Asia Pacific
Millennials are a driving force globally, not just in Vietnam. And while “millennials” has been a popular term in other countries for several years now, it has only been used recently in Vietnam and mostly among corporate people, especially marketing professionals, whose job is to understand user insights and behavior.
Vietnamese millennials are the first generation in Vietnam to be so connected to the world and they see the world from a very different lens as well. They are and continue to be the driving force of the economy, booming with new business ideas, and will lay the foundation for Generation X and Z to push for an even bigger and more rapid change.
It’s clear that Industry 4.0 is the key focus of the Vietnamese Government in driving economic growth. As Vietnam becomes more and more connected to the world, Vietnamese startups know that to compete with businesses from countries like China and India they must look beyond their local market. They understand instinctively that if they want to go big, they need to go regional. In that backdrop, to encourage the development of local startups, the government needs to develop a framework that helps speed up Vietnam’s digital integration, including the free flow of data across borders to support digital trade, drive increased innovation, and lower the cost of regional operations for businesses.
Mr. Mac Quoc Anh, General Secretary of the Hanoi Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Hanoi SMEs)
The young entrepreneurial community has made great strides forward in both quantity and quality, raising a spirit of patriotism, self-reliance, dynamic creativity, active integration, and quick application. They learn advanced techniques and technologies quickly to create high-quality products, build brand prestige, create jobs, and get rich.
Young Vietnamese entrepreneurs have pursued the movement towards international economic integration, winning in the Vietnam Gold Star Awards, Business Talent Lighting Program, Business Start-up program, and Youth Career program.
They have had opportunities thanks to various development trends. The first is that the world is getting more and more flat and faster in every aspect, and the speed of enterprises’ decision making in all matters is also faster. Technology is also increasingly updated, especially information technology (IT), energy, automation, 3D technology, biotechnology, green technology, marketing technology, and management technology, which have boomed and become increasingly personalized and systematized. The greater power of the global network and the production chain also supports new enterprises. In addition, new consumer standards change. So, businesses need to research the market and analyze customer demand to sell what they want.
Millennial entrepreneurs should improve their political awareness, professional knowledge, management capacity, management skills, and counseling, and make suggestions for improvements to legal policy. Intensive integration requires SMEs have a thorough grasp of the management process. They should develop personal relationships with consultants, academics, economists, and negotiating specialists, instead of dealing with regulatory agencies, government agencies, and banks.
Mr. Jason Lusk, Program Director, Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism (MIST)
February 2014, when Nguyen Ha Dong removed Flappy Birds from the App Store, marks the beginning of the modern era for Vietnamese startups. Let’s be honest about what happened back then: A young guy stumbled into a fortune through a combination of instinct and luck. Others saw that and wanted to make easy money too.
A lot has changed in the last five years. Enough startups have failed and enough founders have lost money that would-be entrepreneurs realize startups are high-risk and hard work. Today’s founders have better business models. Their passion for products exceeds their lust for money. Too many millennial entrepreneurs still underestimate the extreme challenge of launching a successful, scalable startup. Too few take a disciplined approach to building their businesses. But things are changing.
The world is certainly not leaving Vietnam behind. There is a lot of technology talent in Vietnam, and the country’s Millennial entrepreneurs are doing a good job of keeping pace with the fast pace of technological change.
We’re not seeing enough business-to-business startups in Vietnam. Business-to-consumer models still dominate. That preference for B2C startups reflects the age of most startup founders. When you are 23 or 24, you simply don’t have enough industry experience to imagine a product that would be useful to business customers. The oldest millennials are now in their 30s, and perhaps we’ll start to see them founding interesting B2B tech companies.
Mr. Seán O’Connell, Human Rights and Innovation Officer, United Nations Development Programme (UNDO)
I hope to see young people continuing to disrupt the business sector, in bringing corporate and special objectives even closer together. Not just young entrepreneurs, but young consumers will join their peers in transforming the business sector by using their wallets, by boycotting poorly behaving businesses, and rewarding those who drive positive social impact.
Furthermore, not everyone can be an entrepreneur, and we need to see the wider private sector follow in the footsteps of this current generation of social innovators. We need to see large businesses make commitments from the highest level of management to acting more sustainably. CEOs are leaders when it comes to setting the corporate and social philosophy of their business and so will be essential in building a better business environment in Vietnam.
This new generation will also play an important role in adapting and adopting new technologies to ensure Industry 4.0 contributes to social development, in serving people and not replacing them. Young technology innovators can use their expertise to ensure we experience an “Inclusive Industry 4.0”.
UNDP is promoting the creation of new “Platforms”, which connect technology experts, community leaders, NGOs, educators, investors, government agencies, and businesses to address systemic challenges to Vietnam’s continued economic, social and environmental development. While technology is not always the silver bullet solution, we know new technologies can help scale up social innovations, by bringing solutions to the most marginalized, adding extra layers of security to combat corruption, and creating the data necessary to better inform our future solutions.
Mr. Nguyen Viet Duc, Chairman of Innovation Capital Management
Vietnamese millennial entrepreneurs now have better visions. Inspired by successful global stories, Vietnamese founders’ now dare to think about solving global issues. Young entrepreneurs now learn a great deal about teamwork. They want to find talented people to go with them in the very early stage. Once deeper in, they dare to recognize their weaknesses and want the team to add value, together.
They are also open and share dreams, stories and potential business opportunities; something quite rare in Vietnam before. With better education, either local or overseas, and a willingness to listen and learn, the young generation have better executive abilities. The development of means of communication also helps them to identify their failings and learn.
A small number of entrepreneurs will see their regional or global dreams come true. Many founders around me still only have a small and medium-sized enterprise mindset or are lifestyle companies, which don’t really have a bright future. Success needs deep learning, a sense of reality, and innovation.
Millennial entrepreneurs will be key influencers in the social structure, which will have the most effect on the economy, society and politics. I hope they can drive the business and social culture towards a better life, while considering the environment.
Vietnam Economic Times
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