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Focus on Vietnamese start-ups

Incubators

With a government subsidy and investor financing, the Vietnamese entrepreneur Quan Ly Dinh set up SongHan Incubator (SHI) in 2017. Through the business, Quan aims to help tourism-related start-ups get going. In a series of missions, PUM experts Peter van Dijk and Maud van den Meiracker are helping SongHan along the road to success. 

The Vietnamese government is keen to tackle the high level of youth unemployment the country is currently suffering from and is encouraging the development of the tourism industry as a means to resolving the problem. It is investing massively in start-ups in the sector and Quan Ly Dinh seized upon the opportunity to set up SHI at the beginning of 2017. A born entrepreneur with an excellent network, Quan was able to quickly gather enthusiasm for his incubator organisation. But setting up a good incubator programme proved trickier than first thought. His plan was to launch at least 10 start-ups in 2018 through the incubator programme and he asked PUM for help. PUM agreed to carry out some 6 or 7 missions over a period of 3 years. 

‘Vietnam is investing massively in start-ups so as to stimulate youth employment’

Beginnings are always difficult

In the first mission to Vietnam in the summer of 2017, PUM expert Peter van Dijk was greeted by an enthusiastic team of employees. ‘Everyone was busy but there was no cohesion. My first job therefore was to draw up a business plan and an operational plan with clear action points and division of roles. And there was a clear need for support in setting up the incubator programmes. PUM expert Maud van den Meiracker came to Vietnam to work on the development of a curriculum for the incubator start-ups.’

Curriculum development for Vietnamese start-ups

SHI and Maud worked together to set up three courses, one of which has already been realized, the inspiration workshop. ‘During these two-day workshops we inform young entrepreneurs and get them enthusiastic about business. We’re also busy preparing the incubator journey in which 10 start-ups will be guided through a period of 17 weeks. At the moment we’re training the trainers for the course. After that we’ll start work on the accelerator journey, a course for only the most successful start-ups from the incubator journey.’

As initiator and director of SongHan Incubator, Quan Ly Dinh likes to dream big. ‘In the next 5 years I want to play a leading role in the ecosystem for start-ups. We want to have successfully helped 200 start-ups, including 10 global companies and 30 large companies. My aim is to also get students enthusiastic at an early stage and help them set up their own business.’

Structure and focus

Quan’s drive is, according to Peter, one of his strengths but it also has its downfalls. ‘Quan is buzzing with ideas and is continually thinking up new plans. But that doesn’t match the structure and focus we laid out in the business plan. Which is why I urged him to pass the day-to-day business on to an operations manager that keeps to the business plan. Quan can then do what he’s good at: bringing in customers. And to keep us on top of things, we go through the current state of affairs each month in a Skype meeting. In this way we hope to be able to really get SHI up and running, because the potential is huge.’

Peter van Dijk (67) has extensive experience in international business. Having worked in several managerial positions for different multinationals, his work now includes being a self-employed business and management consultant. Peter has worked for PUM since 2016 and Vietnam is his third mission. 
Maud van den Meiracker (62) was a partner with Accenture for some time and has worked as a consultant for various NGOs in the development sector. She now teaches at AVANS University of Applied Sciences. She joined PUM in 2010 and has been on 11 missions.