Innovation and Start-up Economies and Opportunities for Vietnam 14/03/2018

Recently, the co-working space Dreamplex hosted a start-up talk with the contribution of brilliant entrepreneurs and public figures:

·      Edward Jung, founder and CEO of Xinova and former chief architect at Microsoft Corporation

·      Max Scheichenost, founding Partner at Alps Venture and co-founder of more than 15 Start-ups in Vietnam and Global

·       Mai Huong Tran, founder of Coco Sin

·       Kien Vu, deputy head of Ho Chi Minh City Department of Urban Planning and Architecture

The talk was divided into two parts. The first one consisted in a keynote speech delivered by Edward Jung and the second one was more open with a panel discussion.

Edward Jung’s presentation focused on the fear of failure. He shared with the audience his own experience at Microsoft where he lost an enormous amount of money at the beginning of his career. According to him, launching a start-up is all about risk taking and potential failure. Although failing can be traumatising, it is actually not a real failure if you have learnt something. To finish his speech, Edward Jung mentioned a few words about the opportunities of Vietnam underlining that the GDP was growing fast, that one should not forget that the country shares the same trade agreements as Singapore and that the government is now focusing on domestic investment. The opportunities are broad: camera, radio, movie, airplane, phone, network, laser, medical device, automobile, etc. He concluded the first part by saying that it was the perfect time for people to launch their start-ups in Vietnam.

The panellists then took the floor. The discussion was moderated by Tin Nguyen, founder of Dreamplex co-working space. The panellists gave advice to those who are thinking of launching their own start-ups. It is understood that one of the most essential elements is the mind-set: DREAM BIG! However, you do not have to think about an idea that will make billions, but you can start with smaller ideas.

Building a trust network and celebrating the small and big wins with them is very important. This trust network will be crucial when bad times hit you. Partnership is also about finding people with diverse backgrounds and who will challenge you, your project, your business model,...

Max Scheichenost from Alps Venture believes that having a mentor is a key element of success. The person can pass you on his experience so that you will not repeat the same mistakes.

Mai Huong Tran shared her experience about being a woman. Most of the time, women are told what to do, when and with whom, but a woman can control her own path and destiny and this is what she has done.

At this stage, the eager audience started asking questions about entrepreneurship, start-ups, etc. A member of the audience asked then the panellists: what is the biggest challenge when trying to establish a company in another country? They all agreed that the legal systems of the hosting countries and meeting their requirements were the hardest things to cope with.

Finally, all the panellists underlined that there is still a lot to invest in technology in Vietnam and all over the world, but it is absolutely not the one and only opportunity for investment.  

What about Belgium?

The fear of failure is also highly present in Belgium. Belgians have the desire to set up their own businesses, but this fear often prevents them from doing it. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report, Belgium has one of the highest fear of failure rates in Europe with a result of 49,4%. Indeed, many consider failure as a synonym of shame. In order to overcome this feeling, a number of organizations have taken action., for example, raises awareness on the fact that making mistakes is part of the entrepreneurial learning process. The strategy also consists in letting successful entrepreneurs talk about their own experience of failure to show people that sunshine always follows rain. Extending the scope of insurance policies in case of bankruptcy could also be an idea. The good news is that even though the fear of failure is pretty widespread in the country, new businesses are still flourishing with 89,777 entrepreneurs starting their businesses in 2016.

Furthermore, other factors discourage Belgians from taking the plunge. First, the entrepreneurial culture is insufficient in Belgium. Promoting the spirit of entrepreneurships in education is crucial. Then, there is a lack of information about financial support for start-ups and businesses, but there are actually many ways of financing a new project:

-      Personal financing: not debts, but if the project does not work, the person is left without any money;

-      Loans from relatives/friends: the money is easy to obtain, but if the project does not work, the relationships could become complicated;

-      Investment funds;

-      Financing from banks: very difficult to obtain for a start-up;

-      Personal loan: High rate and risk for personal wealth;

-      Crowdfunding: being convincing about the project is a key element for this type of financing;

-      Business Angels;

-      Etc.

The current corporate tax in Belgium is very high (33,99%) compared to other EU countries where the average is less than 25%. The forthcoming plan for corporate tax by the new Belgian Government will be more business friendly as the CT will be progressively reduced to 25 %.

In both Vietnam and Belgium, where the fear of failure is pretty high when launching a start-up or a business, major efforts must be made to tackle this feeling. “Failing is part of the process” is a sentence that must be ingrained in people’s minds and a failure should be considered as an experience rather than a personal defeat. Although Vietnam and Belgium are really different and far away from each other, challenges met by the entrepreneurs young and old are somehow similar. The main outcome of the event was the demystification of failure. Failure and the fear of it should be integrated into the business venture as an unavoidable element that should be overtaken by the entrepreneur.


Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." -- Winston Churchill


Wrapped-up by Borcy, reviewed by Piérart