Vietnamese leaves US startups behind for meaningful venture in homeland

A Vietnamese man has been running an enterprise in his motherland in the quest for a more meaningful life after deciding to leave the US, where he successfully co-launched several start-ups.

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Kevin Tung Nguyen (standing) talks with colleagues at his company – Jobhop. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Kevin Tung Nguyen, born in Da Nang, played a role in founding San Francisco-based K-Source, a software firm of over 200 staff members, and Ivylish – a business aiming to benefit orphans and disadvantaged children in developing countries.

“All the profits from Ivylish go to two orphanages in Go Vap [in Ho Chi Minh City] and Da Nang,” Tung said.

The 29-year-old graduate from the University of Arizona returned to Vietnam in 2012, and worked for a major corporation as a management board consultant.

Recognizing widespread staffing problems faced by employment agencies’ websites in Vietnam at the time, he cooperated with two of his friends, one serving as an engineer at Google and the other being the director of the virtual-gift-exchanging protocol of Gifto, to start a new project.

In July 2017 they rolled out Jobhop, a smartphone application deploying cloud computing and artificial intelligence to help employers seek candidates suited to their jobs efficiently.

“An advantage of Jobhop is managing applicants’ profiles, monitoring the recruitment, making judgments and evaluations, and collecting recruitment information,” Tung said.

The product has brought him the two partners of En-Japan and Getlinks, earned a monthly turnover of US$16,000 and found 40,000 employees for posted jobs.

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Kevin Tung Nguyen (standing) talks with colleagues at his company – Jobhop. Photo: Tuoi Tre

This year, the app is expected to achieve US$330,000 in revenue.

“Our ambition is that at the end of 2019, Jobhop will successfully connect nearly 1,500 businesses of various sizes and link 150,000 jobs in the country, to reach US$1.4 million worth of turnover,” he said.

Adaptability is a gateway to fruitful start-ups, Tung said.

In early days of his business, Jobhop served mainly as a staffing app for applicants in the service industry, but now it integrates corporate tools for all fields.

Companies can accordingly interact directly with candidates, who can use Jobhop to advertise themselves, via one-minute videos for instance.

Contrary to usual strategies, Tung declined several offers for support from investors.

“A popular conception is that a start-up has to get lots of investment to be successful,” he said.

“This is completely wrong, because as far as I know nearly 70% of start-ups in the world making the decision have died.”

He warned that investors have a propensity to receive more money in a time as short as possible but this may mean that start-ups’ products are not beneficial to customers, and that the businesses tend to diverge from their original goals.

Tung said he has never regretted returning to Vietnam.

“I think I don’t need to live long, but I need to live meaningfully,” he said.

“In Vietnam I can make a greater contribution to society.

“I find life in Vietnam really more meaningful, and I can feel it in the job I’m doing or in the everyday foods I enjoy.”


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