Ministry of Science and Technology of Viet Nam

Initiative for Startup Ecosystem in Vietnam

Viet Su Giai Thoai: From Ideas to Professional Startup

To grow a personal idea into a professional startup, Doan Nhat Quang, founder of Viet Su Giai Thoai (Anecdotes of Vietnam History), determines that the project must be pioneering and must receive the support of three important companions including investors, mentors and the history lovers community.

Doan Nhat Quang, CEO of Viet Su Giai Thoai

Being specialized in and passionate about history, Doan Nhat Quang initiated the Viet Su Giai Thoai project with an idea to set up a website and a fanpage to facilitate a community of history lovers.

Started from the beginning of 2019, in the span of the next year, the project was gradually built up with the feedbacks by history lovers community and experts.

“It is the support of the community that enables me to be confident that the project, if done as planned, will receive a positive response ,” said Quang.

More importantly, this community is not just a gathering of history lovers. There are also people who are not interested in history but are interested in the way he works with news and articles on the website. Gradually, they began to enjoy history more.

By September 2020, Quang had the opportunity to meet the chairman of a business that was investing in technology startups. The chairman had the financial, technological and networking resources to give the startup a chance to thrive. After Quang had shared his ideas and aspirations, the businessman approved the investment in the Viet Su Giai Thoai project.

After that, Quang assembled a proper and talented team. They agreed on the direction to develop the project and to build an ecosystem of history that is both profitable and can preserve the love for history in every Vietnamese person. The startup currently focuses on three areas: research into history-inspired fashion products, social media development and distribution, and a media segment.

Thanks to the network of more than 20 subsidiary technology startups under Viet Su Giai Thoai’s investor that work in various fields including retail, social network, and technology, the CEOs of these startups can share and help each other with technology, business knowledge, creating markets as well as building distribution channels.

Each subsidiary approaches different customers. Therefore, businesses in this ecosystem can cross-sell products, and advertise in each other's projects.

The key to attract companions

According to Quang, besides the social impacts, businesses or funds also focus on commercial factors and profits. Upon learning he works with history, the leaders of many companies question the projects’ commerciality.

“We have to show them where the commercial elements are in the overall picture, what are the things that help generate revenue, but also have to indicate the values. If a startup over-commercializes history, they will lose the value that they pursue ”, Quang shared.

In this period, the ecosystem of Viet Su Giai Thoai needs to balance both factors. The manufacturing and retail sectors focus on generating revenue and making fashion products such as T-shirts and shoes inspired by the history of Vietnam. Simultaneously, being the first social network in the history of Vietnam, Viet Su Giai Thoai is a playground for people sharing the love for history to learn and retain the core spiritual values that the project pursues.

In addition, Quang also conducts straightforward and transparent communication to prove that he is on a clear path to digitizing historical content and posting videos, podcasts, and audio. He is also determined to have authentic business data to demonstrate to investors.

At a certain level of development, Viet Su Giai Thoai also receives the support of the community of history lovers. Currently, Quang owns one of the three most followed fanpages about history. In addition, he was also joined by a number of lecturers from the History Department, University of Social Sciences and Humanities as advisors.

“My path to initiate a startup is a combination of business, community support and expert advice. This is probably the first project about history in Vietnam to become a professional company, not just a community project like previous ones, ”said Quang.

According to the startup, the criterion when choosing a companion is that they must share the same opinion on the path to prosper. He chooses to go the long haul, pioneer and create values for society instead of running a retail, manufacturing or technology project that can generate revenue immediately.

“The companion must understand and accept that path. Only when they understand our model, what we have visioned and believe in it can we accompany each other”, Quang said.

Accordingly, a sustainable relationship between a startup and a companion should be a friendship instead of merely the relationship between the venture capitalist and the capital receiver, between the startup and the investor.

"I want to find a real friend, to understand if I am having difficulties or advantages and to help me on that path", Quang shared about criteria for choosing a companion.

To advance Viet Su Giai Thoai to the present, Quang's team needs the support of three companion groups at the same time, including: finance - technology of supporting enterprises, expertise of scientists and community support to generate more confidence in the products they create. For Quang, it is difficult to determine which companion is more prioritized because all three are important factors in creating the project.

"In order to be successful, it is necessary to have all three companions", Quang said.

"Popularize" history

Fortunately, Quang's start-up journey with Viet Su Giai Thoai up to now has not been difficult, but it is not without challenges.

“I want people to know my good intentions and my path to help promote history instead of merely commercial purposes. To prove that is my challenge during the past period ”, Quang said.

Viet Su Giai Thoai Team

To prove this, he separates the project into two parts, including core value and commerciality. Regarding commerciality, he created a brand and model for Viet Su Giai Thoai. The project does not intend to become the guide for other history-related projects but is simply a commercialized product line inspired by history.

The products made by Quang not only target history lovers but also those who are not interested in history and evoke their interest. For example, a person can become fascinated with a historical event or character because of a beautiful graphic on a T-shirt. Short stories and events will help members learn history easily.

Receiving positive comments has helped the team to be more confident on their path. There are some comments saying that "I did not pay attention to history before but did not expect history to be so appealing" or "Thanks to this page, I care more about history".

When the mobile application was introduced, although not officially running, in March 2021, there were 250,000 accesses. April 2021 is expected to reach about 350,000 accesses. Quang says everything is on schedule and the project will be officially run by the end of April this year.

Sharing about the vision and mission of Viet Su Giai Thoai in the future, the startup says that there must be a balance between generating revenue and keeping its own quality: historical accuracy, community contribution and receivability.

Besides, because the history community is very small, to be able to grow quickly, this startup decides to borrow resources from existing fields in the market, and most importantly, to stick to the common goal, be inspired by history and inspire people.

Source: The Leader



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