Entrepreneurship In Vietnam

IMG_3807I’m currently in Manila after spending the past two months traveling through Vietnam.


As expected, activities like renting a motorcycle, swimming on beautiful beaches, and eating delicious Vietnamese food were omnipresent.


What I didn’t expect, however, was the abundance of startups, co-working spaces, and entrepreneurial events that could be found in the cities I visited.


Even with the language barrier and a few ‘fickle’ government policies, many of the entrepreneurs I met were killing it!


When I thought about this environment in terms of location independent business, it only looked better. With clients in other countries and your business incorporated at home the two biggest barriers (regulations and language) evaporate.


Here’s three reasons you, as a location  independent entrepreneur, should consider stopping by Vietnam on your world travels.


1. The Welcoming Community


Hanoi was the first city I visited in Vietnam. I was surprised to find that it was home to a few co-working spaces and many, many innovative companies. (Both Vietnamese and international)


When I first arrived, I reached out on Meetup.com. Instantly I was pointed in the direction of one of the most popular co-working spaces as well as a few upcoming events.


I met many entrepreneurs over a span of just a few days, went BMX riding with one of them, and even had a few job offers. 🙂


In Ho Chi Minh, my experience was similar. One of the members of Startup Grind who I had met in Hanoi introduced me to a community organizer there. He even opened his house to me for the week of my stay!


I didn’t know anyone before I crossed the border into Vietnam, but the people I met helped me feel right at home.




2. Inspirational Events


I must admit… the first ‘entrepreneur’ event I attended in Vietnam wasn’t in English. That said, I didn’t get much insight from the main speaker.


The people in the crowd, however, made this event inspirational. Entrepreneurs from France, Vietnam, The United States, and many other countries filled the room. Learning from them and getting an understanding of the innovation landscape in Vietnam made up for the talk I wasn’t able to understand.


When I visited Ho Chi Minh, I was able to attend a great event that was actually in English. 🙂


Visiting CrowdPitch, I saw 4 pitches from Vietnamese companies as well as judge feedback for each. I had no idea there was so much innovation happening on this far side of the world! The problems facing Vietnam are very different than those in the west, and it was eye-opening to see the companies that had sprung up in response to these problems.


The judges at the event also showed me that there are great business mentors in Vietnam. They were entrepreneurs and investors, and their post-pitch questions showed that they knew what they were talking about.


3. As Always… Low Costs


As any new entrepreneur knows from experience, your biggest (and most stressful) costs are often your own living expenses. One of the biggest pitfalls of starting a business in America is that jumping in full-time often leaves just 1-2 months of runway before you need to get a job again.


Especially when you’re making expensive mistakes, the burn rate of your cash can kill you.


Vietnam (as well as most of South East Asia) will save you here. With $1 meals and apartments available for $5 per night, you will be able to devote months to your business with money that would last just weeks in America.


I can only imagine the hardships I would endure if I was working on my business while living in America. I most certainly would have run out of cash and needed to move back in with mom and dad.


This of course is not what I want to do, and countries like Vietnam allow me to travel without continually worrying about money.