Emotional Intelligence key to start-up success: GoBear chief

Friday, Apr 06, 2018 07:00

GoBear Vietnam country director Bao Nguyen is a judge of TIS The Pitch 2018

TIS The Pitch 2018, a competition for high school students to develop their English speaking skills, returns to the country this month. The contest, which seeks to nurture entrepreneurship in high school-age children, will this year be organised in the “Shark Tank experience” format.

Bao Nguyen, GoBear Vietnam country director and a member of the competition judges, speaks about it and start-ups in Viet Nam.

Is the new format the main reason you decided to become a judge for the contest?

Bao Nguyen, GoBear Vietnam Country Director

The main reason is that I feel this is a very special and meaningful competition. I believe these competitions are very good for the youth of Viet Nam and I am very proud to be a part of it.

The competition is about coming up with an idea for social change, so it is not exactly like Shark Tank as we know it in Viet Nam or the US. They changed it a little so that it focuses on social issues like pollution and traffic congestion. This is also aligned with GoBear Viet Nam’s mission to provide financial inclusion for the Vietnamese people, to empower them to make better informed personal finance decisions.

This is a good opportunity for the kids to learn how to come up with business plans, how to nurture good ideas and get mentorship from judges and the organisers. I and the other judges are committed to mentoring these young students so that they get good results from their ideas.

How do you see the development of young entrepreneurs in Viet Nam? As a successful start-up itself, how do you think your company inspires young entrepreneurs in Viet Nam?

I think the start-up community in Viet Nam is growing very fast. I am very excited about it. There are a lot of good ideas and strong developers in the market. One of the reasons GoBear launched a technology development team called GoBear Code Unit in HCM City is the skills of developers in Việt Nam are very high

Other than that of course the economy is growing, Vietnamese entrepreneurs are very energetic, passionate and hungry.

What messages will you be sending to the Vietnamese start-up community?

One of the things we think Vietnamese entrepreneurs need help with is that sometimes their vision is too short term. I think they need to think beyond the first and second years and look at version 2.0 or 3.0 so that their ideas become scalable and global.

I also see the needs to improve finance background. I think start-ups need to have a good understanding of how to manage profit and loss and also be able to manage money they get from investors. Let’s say they get funding from a venture fund or strategic partner, they need to demonstrate that they know how to use that money, and sometimes I don’t see that kind of finance background to do that. They may be good at tech or whatever field they are in, but they need a member with a good finance background.

The other thing is that their interests may not align at the senior level. What I mean by that is sometimes I see that there aren’t really anything to keep these smart people together after a few years or after a disagreement. It is important to have something that will keep interests in place and going in the same direction and keep people together. That can be in the form of stock options or other compensation plans.

Lastly these start-ups can do better in EQ [emotional intelligence]. They need to be able to empathise with B2B and B2C, and sometimes I don’t see that. They may be good at one thing, but not the other.

Soft skills are not taught in schools and must be learnt in real life or from failures. People can learn from failures, and that is how you build awareness. If start-ups want to grow, you need someone with a good finance background, strong EQ, a plan to keep people together and long term vision.

You will surely share all this at TIS The Pitch 2018, won’t you?

Yes we just did a press conference at the school and I told the competitors I will be looking for EQ in their presentation. Each team has to present its ideas in English in 3 minutes. Initially they have to submit a video and go through the preliminary rounds. In the final round they will have 10 minutes to present. They also need scalable execution plans and their ideas need to be clearly differentiated from others’. I will expect these kids to do their research and treat them like adults and be tough. It is a tough competition, but the prizes are great!

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