|Bok is providing direct consultation for a participant startup in the northern bootcamp. (Photo: Thye Bok/NIC)
Bao Tram: Welcome to VOV24/7’s Digital Life!
Thye Bok:Hello everyone! Thanks a lot for having me. I’m very happy and very excited to be on the show.
Bao Tram: 200 Vietnamese startups registered to participate in this program but only 50 were selected. That’s one in four. What are the criteria for selecting startups for the bootcamp?
Thye Bok: We are looking for startups who are solving meaningful problems with technology in Vietnam, especially in key industries that are contributing to the country’s economy. Apart from that, founders must show some level of commitment to tackling these challenges. Last, we consider how Google can meaningfully help the respective startups and their founders who are selected for the program.
Bao Tram: After the first two bootcamps, one in the north and one in the south, what do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of Vietnamese tech startups?
Thye Bok: Early tech startups in Vietnam are extremely well-versed in technology but need help with business- and leadership-related skills. Generally speaking, they also need to be familiar with the inner workings of fund-raising and pitching and a better understanding of investment term sheets.
Bao Tram: Google says the training gives Vietnamese startups access to the best of Google’s programs, products, and best practices. What exactly are the best practices?
Thye Bok: Startups will learn best practices, methodology, and frameworks pertaining to leadership development, culture building, and business development, which includes topics such as pricing strategy, product positioning, and marketing. They will also get a chance to interact with Google product managers and engineers to learn about software engineering best practices. During the mentoring sessions, they can discuss Android, Cloud, Firebase, Machine Learning, and Ads-related issues with mentors from the respective Google teams. We hope the program can be a launching pad for them to get connected with the right mentors from within Google and its ecosystem network.
Bao Tram: How has the training changed the Vietnamese tech startups?
Thye Bok: Well, it’s too soon to say, but I did notice micro aha-moments. I met several startups who have shared they are more aware of how to structure a pitch deck better, how to conduct better user research manually and autonomously with Google products. There are some startups who expressed their desire to rethink their product positioning and reevaluate their business models, as well as setting the right company goals with Objectives & Key Results (OKRs) software. Throughout the week, I also noticed the startups founders are starting to ask the right questions, which is extremely encouraging to see.
Bao Tram: Will Google continue to support the participants?
Thye Bok: Yes, we do! This is only the beginning! These startups will now be part of an alumni network and we plan to continue to run training sessions with them. We proactively mentioned that the startups can continue to reach out for help and we hope to get them connected with more mentors from Google and the ecosystem, investors from within Vietnam and across the region. We plan to continue to partner with NIC to pool together resources from both organizations for continuous support.
Bao Tram: Thank you for granting VOV this interesting interview. That was Thye Yeow Bok, Head of Startup Ecosystem, Asia-Pacific at Google.
Thye Bok: It’s more than welcome, it’s my pleasure. Thanks for spending your time on having this conversation.
200 businesses from Vietnam’s startup community registered to attend the first Google for Startups program.
A training course for 25 tech startups in the south was held from October 3 to October 7, 2022.
A similar training course for 25 tech startups in the north took place from November 14 to November 18, 2022.
Selected startups from the two bootcamps will participate in a Vietnam Venture Summit hosted by NIC on December 19 to showcase their innovation and business models and pitch their companies to the investor community.