A lot of people were taken by surprise to know that Nghiem Tien Vien had resigned from a high-paying job to return to his hometown several years ago.
Many of them would like to ask him a question: why?
It is natural to raise the question, in fact.
Vien, a millennial, quit when he had a decent job with a monthly salary of around US$2,500, which would be a dream to many other people in Vietnam.
At the age of 31, Vien is the director of the Gostream Technology Joint Stock Company, one of the seven most excellent startups of Vietnam which participated in Techfest 2019 in Silicon Valley in the U.S.
Gostream managed to raise $1 million in its Series A funding round from the local Vinacapital Ventures Foundation previously.
Facebook once listed it as one of 30 platforms that had been live-streamed most in the world in 30 days.
‘I can do it more simply’
Vien was offered a job as a technical manager in a U.S. company based in Vietnam with a salary of $2,500 a month after he graduated from the Hanoi University of Science and Technology several years ago.
To many people’s surprise, however, he gave up the post to come back to his hometown and work for a newspaper as a technical manager.
While working there, Vien had to do a lot of tasks related to live-stream activities.
He found it uncomfortable to use existing tools and apps that were available on the market then.
“It can be improved. I can do it more simply, why did others make it complicated like that?” Vien wondered to himself.
Vien nurtured the idea for one year before launching a startup offering a technical solution named Gostream.
The app helps users save time by using recorded and edited videos in live-streaming.
Gostream was put in the spotlight virtually immediately after being unveiled, thanks partly to meeting the growing demand of many sellers online at that time in Vietnam.
Being inspired from the first success, Vien continued to introduce a new product, Gostudio, an app that provides users with a tool to live-stream interactively on such popular social media platforms as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter with many unique features and functions.
“The platform can be used as a mini studio that allows you to add a logo, photos, characters, and videos to live streams,” Vien talks of some special functions of Gostudio.
“You can also operate it as a network of television channels and invite others to live-stream videos from anywhere they have got a connection.
“You can use two cameras from two different corners to flip scenes during a live stream, which is really the same as a real studio.
“Gostudio, however, is easier to use because you can utilize smartphones instead of cameras.”
In the context of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Gostudio soon became a household name because of a growing demand for virtual meetings and conferences and its capability to cope with the demand domestically and internationally.
“The pandemic turned out to be an opportunity for us and we tried to engage with investors,” Vien told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
“They were so persuaded by our existing products that they were willing to invest in our projects in 2021.”
Gradually conquering global market
Three years ago, Vien chose the north-central province of Nghe An, his hometown, as a starting point for making Vietnam recognized on the world’s ‘technology map.’
However, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh were two only cities whose startups could attract investments at that time.
Vien acknowledged that his decision to choose Nghe An to launch a startup was driven by financial considerations.
He only needed to spend a much smaller amount of money than his peers do in other big cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City paying for office rent or equipment.
This helped Vien’s enterprise hold on for a longer time to have their first client.
Vien had to deal with human resources as well.
“It is very difficult to compete with major companies,” Vien acknowledged.
The young businessman became a headhunter in his own hometown, looking for potential employees who live and work in the local community and training them for the company.
Apart from setting up a head office in Nghe An, Vien chose a co-founder to be a leader to work with investors in the southern region on his behalf in Ho Chi Minh City.
“Our products are sold via the Internet; we work mainly on the web so where our company locates would not matter,” the millennial explained.
“That is why I chose my hometown, Nghe An, to make my dream come true.
“When our products get well known, it would not matter to investors where our company is based.”
The first steps are always the hardest. This is not different to Vien, who experienced a challenging phase during the very beginning stages with the startup.
Vien took three to four jobs at the same time, including product development and customer service.
Sometimes Vien had to stop eating to fix some errors after receiving a call from his customers.
Vien and his co-workers found the right direction despite encountering many obstacles.
Gostream has become a popular choice amid the increasing demand for selling goods online in Vietnam.
There are more customers who look for the company’s products, as its brand name has become more recognizable.
“Our subscription plans are various, from VND100,000 [US$4.3] to millions of Vietnamese dong per month depending on the client’s demand,” said Vien.
“The customers are willing to pay the fee as long as they are well served in their business goals.
“There have been more than 700,000 Gostream subscribers to date.
“There is an average of 10,000 active users daily, which includes around 50,000 live streams.”
Gostream’s revenue in 2020 was around VND15 billion ($650,000), which created jobs for a team of 40 young employees.
“We are in the process of perfecting Gostudio, making some new improvements to make it suitable for foreign markets,” Vien talked about the ongoing plans.
“We set a goal of entering the Southeast Asian market in the first half of this year.
“In the second half, we will conquer markets in the U.S. and Europe.”
Thanks to the excellent achievements in the startup industry, Vien was included in the list of Vietnam’s 10 most outstanding young faces of 2020.
This year, Vien will be Vietnam’s representative to compete in the ‘Startup World Cup 2021,’ which will be held in the U.S. on November 11.
Keys to success
More than 90 percent of startups that work in the technology field fail to bring success eventually, so what are the secrets to overcome the ‘curse’?
In Vien’s opinion, most entrepreneurs know that there is a limited chance of success in launching a technology startup.
Whether they dare to accept the challenge or not is really an important thing.
“It depends substantially on a combination of factors that all provide an opportune circumstance for me to enjoy the positive results,” Vien said.
“In addition to that, of course, we have our own capability.”