Why Do Startups Fail in Vietnam?

startupAs an emerging economy, Vietnam provides its startup owners with both opportunities and setbacks. Among such barriers, the most underlying reasons stem from the founders themselves and the Vietnamese market.

Firstly, Vietnamese entrepreneurs are normally conservative. According to Aaron Everhart, co-founder of Hatch!, Vietnamese entrepreneurs’ mindsets struggle with subtle forms of repression from Confucianism that curtail them from defying stereotypes. For instance, many startup owners in Vietnam prefer the realistic and safe business game. Their disengagement from “thinking out of the box” eventually leads to their products virtually similar to those that have appeared on the market. Notwithstanding, it should be underscored that the best startups come from those needing to scratch an itch. Additionally, Vietnamese business owners lack experience. In the US, successful entrepreneurs are usually those that have acquired years working in major corporations before launching their own businesses. In contrast, in Vietnam, many hastily jump into startups, not knowing whether their products have a niche in the market or not. Out of the few examples of successful entrepreneurs in Vietnam, Dang Hoang Minh, founder of Foody.vn, in fact had experience with an online website that targeted food locations before he established Foody. This, again, corroborates the undeniable fact that experience is a credible measure of a founder’s chances of accomplishment.

Apart from the entrepreneurs themselves, startups’ failures result from an external factor, which is the Vietnamese market. The absence of angel investors in Vietnam, besides those such as Cyber Agent, IDG and Golden Gate, aggravates the problem. It justifies the financial restraints posed by our economy, in which entrepreneurs have no alternative but to seek monetary assistance from acquaintances, while banks clamp down on their budget and personal investors are skeptical about the startup’ success.

Solutions to address the ineffective growth of Vietnam’s startups must come from both the government and businesses. On the part of entrepreneurs, professional acquisition is crucial via means of various sources namely schools and mentors. Moreover, they are strongly advised to derive the frame for entrepreneurial organization from work experience, since experience allows entrepreneurs to avoid mistakes along the way. Also, startup founders themselves have to make sure that their leadership skills suffice to pave the way for their businesses towards success. On the part of the government, authorities and officials need to take the initiative to establish a more nurturing environment for entrepreneurs to advance. It starts from the formulation of a legal framework that benefits entrepreneurs in terms of intellectual property rights, business registry, VAT and labor regulations. But from an educational perspective, the most robust course of action is a reform that promotes students’ creativity and acts as a catalyst for new perspectives on entrepreneurship.

For entrepreneurs, life is about challenging the status quo and treading a different path. In the end, entrepreneurship rides a constant learning curve, one that requires business founders to deploy coping mechanisms best suited to their characteristics and contexts.

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