It has been such a luxury having Stacy documenting our past two months here in Vietnam on this blog. When I get emails from friends around the world asking how things are going over here, I usually say something like: “it’s great…here is a link to Stacy’s blog to read more.” I hope she continues it once we get home so when people ask me how things are going in Cleveland, I can also just refer them to Stacy’s blog. Very efficient.
Since unfortunately Stacy is not accompanying me to my job teaching entrepreneurship at the National Economics University, the time has come for me to add something to this blog. I received a Fulbright fellowship to teach this semester at the National Economics University (NEU), one of the leading universities in economics, management and business in Vietnam. It has over 45,000 students across 45 graduate and undergraduate academic programs. I am primarily working in the NEU Business School with students in the Bachelor of Business Administration in English (EBBA) program although I am also doing occasional lecturing in other departments such as International School of Management and Economics (ISME).
I am “team teaching” a course in the EBBA program called “Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation” to 50 Vietnamese undergraduates in their third year of the program. The other lecturer for the course, Ha Tung, is a MBA graduate of Washington State University and has been a great partner in delivering a course that looks comparatively at starting businesses and raising investment capital in Vietnam and abroad.
We have had some excellent guest speakers in the class including Do Tuan Anh, CEO of Appstore.vn, Simon Andrews, IFC Regional Manager, Duc Tran, General Partner, IDG Vietnam Ventures and Ryan Galloway, Vice President, Strategy, MobiVi. Most of the speakers have come to our class in person although we have also used Skype to have conversations with business leaders outside of the region. In the picture below, you can see Ryan Galloway’s face on my laptop as he joined us by Skype from Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) for the class (and our projector was not working in class that day). Ryan, an American living in HCMC, was a former student of mine at Case Western Reserve where he completed his law degree last year.
In addition to my teaching at NEU, I have met with a number of people involved in supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Vietnam, including venture capitalists, leading entrepreneurs, directors of incubators and government officials. I was honored to be asked to speak at the Workshop on Technology Incubation hosted by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) several weeks ago. My remarks focused on the fact that I found Vietnam to be one of the most entrepreneurial countries I have ever been to, evidenced by the fact that there are local entrepreneurs selling things here on every street corner. In order to continue to encourage the growth of Vietnamese start-up companies, the ecosystem here needs to continue to find ways to provide financing to these companies including the active participation of local angel investors. The photos below are from MOST workshop.
I also participated as a mentor in a course for entrepreneurs in Hanoi run by the Founder Institute. Founder Institute is a global network of startups and mentors that help entrepreneurs launch meaningful and enduring technology companies. I participated in a Founder Institute session with representatives from IDG Vietnam Ventures and DFJ VinaCapital on fundraising.
I have also spent time in Hanoi connecting with the international community here to learn more about the various donor efforts to support the growth of Vietnamese small and medium sized enterprises in general, and entrepreneurship in particular. In addition to the friendships I have made with local diplomats in Hanoi, I also reconnected with a college friend who came to Hanoi earlier this month in his capacity as one of the top US trade negotiators. Ambassador Demetrios Marantis is the Deputy United States Trade Representative who lived in Hanoi earlier in his career (and was incredibly helpful in introducing us to many of his friends and contacts here before we arrived).