Startup Asia Conference: Only Startup when You Have Track Records

(27/11/2014) “Difficulties, even failures are priceless lessons. But do not put all of your family’s properties on your first start-up. You need to reduce risks” – Dr. Pham Minh Tuan, Head of General Assembly, TOPICA Education Technology Group speaks in Startup Asia Conference 2014.

Dr. Pham Minh Tuan, Head of General Assembly, TOPICA Education Technology Group gave his speech at the Startup Asia Conference 2014 (Startup Asia Jakarta 2014) on the 26th of November in Jakarta, Indonesia. The speech was heard by 1700 guests from 27 countries from Pacific Asia and Europe, including over 100 investors in the field of Internet and Mobile.

The speakers focused on general and distinctive features of startup communities in the area, as there is an interesting similarity that most entrepreneurs in Internet field have been successful by big accumulation of experience, skills, finance, human resource and personal connection.

Dr. Pham Minh Tuan gave his speech at Startup Asia Conference 2014 (Startup Asia Jakarta 2014)


Startup Asia is an annual conference organized by notable magazine TechinAsia. Taking part in the conference this year were special speakers such as Angry Bird’s founder Peter Vesterbacka, Xiaomi Global vice president Hugo Barra, and Twitter Business Directer Rick Mulia.


Dr. Pham Minh Tuan’s presentation with delegates from the Philippines (source: TechinAsia)



“We invited the representative of TOPICA to be the speaker as a successful startup education technology group and the leader of this field in the area. This is also an experienced firm who has visited, met and researched on the markets of many different countries.

- Ms Gwendolyn Regina Tan, Pacific Asia Business Development Director of TechinAsia, organizers’ representative stated.


The conference was attended by 1700 guests from 27 countries from Pacific Asia and Europe (source: TechinAsia)



South Ease Asia: Startup with accumulation


At the conference, Mr Paul Rivery, Founder and CEO of Kalibirr, the Philippines stated that, ”Entrepreneurs in the Philippines are mostly over 30 and come from abroad. Young businessmen lack the experience of reality, and therefore, have not yet created remarkable success”. Similarly, Mr Pati Padungtin, Director of Builk shared, ”The youth nowadays, despite enthusiasm, are not yet successful entrepreneurs for the most part. The most successful in Thailand are individuals over 30-years-old”.

Meanwhile, while discussing entrepreneurship in Vietnam, Dr. Pham Minh Tuan affirmed that, ”Despite facing difficulties and hardship, Vietnamese startups have garnered more and more attention from foreign investors”.


From 2012 to 2013, each year witnessed 24-25 risk investments for startups, and until October, 2014 received 20 business investments.


Different from the US and other developed countries where people can start up while studying, it requires more accumulation in Vietnam to succeed. In Top 20 Internet entrepreneurs of Vietnam, the average age of founders when starting is 28,5; 65% of them had previously had start ups at least twice before, or worked in at least two enterprises.


Mr Tuan also shared the trend of Vietnamese startup investment and extending to other South East Asian nations with groups like Appota, Cleverads, Hisella, and TOPICA.


“If you are enthusiastic to get to work and startup immediately, be confident no matter how old you are, despite what people may say.” – Mr Pham Minh Tuan shared – “Difficulties, even failures are priceless lessons. But do not put all of your family’s properties on your first start-up. In other words, you need to reduce risks”.



Solving the “Accumulation” problem for startup


How can startups “accumulate” experience effectively and efficiently? Mr Pham Minh Tuan suggested, ”There’s a way of taking training courses of entrepreneurship, or business idea in incubation. However, an effective place is needed and you yourself have to be particularly experienced”.


The entrepreneurship training course Topica Founder Institute is the only program in Vietnam where graduated entrepreneurs received million-dollar investments. From 2012 to 2014, graduators of TFI received a total amount of $10 million from investors including 3S, Antoree, Appota, Deltaviet, Uplevo, Vlance, Yton and Morbling.


From 2012 to 2014, Vietnamese startups - graduates of TFI received a total amount of $10 million from investors



Beside TFI, TOPICA Uni is now providing technology and service for high quality online bachelor’s programs at five universities in Vietnam and the largest university of the Philippines. It has developed the online English speaking program TOPICA Native made up of teachers entirely from Europe, the United States of America and Australia as well as a flexible learning schedule with classes from 8 am to 11 pm.

“The best way to prepare entrepreneurs is to have them work somewhere they can watch and learn as much as possible with suitable policy of employee treatment” – Dr. Pham Minh Tuan


TOPICA online education group of Dr. Tuan is a good place to start with. With over-500-employee scale, no longer a small enterprise, TOPICA still successfully maintains “Startup culture” within by encouraging creativity and providing space for future entrepreneurs to bring their best work into play.


Dr. Pham Minh Tuan shared his knowledge about E-learning and startups at the Global Economy Symposium – GES 2014.



After years of training and cultivating, there are many still following their startups, such as Mr. Cao Cong Minh, former Marketing Director of TOPICA Uni, founder of Many others chose to stay close and succeed with TOPICA, Mr. Duong Huu Quang, after trying his own startup, then spending 5 years training with TOPICA, is now the CEO of TOPICA Native. Mr. Nguyen Quoc Binh, co-founder of Ig9 and 6ix, is now the Marketing Director of TOPICA Native.


Mr. Nguyen Khoi, founder of Volvano Vietnam, acting Director of TOPICA Memo shared, ”I believed that I needed a few more years of accumulation to prepare for the harsh game of startup, and I found Topica a suitable environment where I can bring into play my ability and enthusiasm as I did with startup. We share the culture of “5 No’s”: No fear of new things, No fear of breaking, No fear of chores, No hesitation, No clearance, No freeway. Exemptions of administrative, financial, human resource procedures are made for production teams during their first 18 months, with rewarding policy based on contribution and title.”


Nowadays, TOPICA is running the program “22 future CEOs recruitment” with the purpose of training young managers and create their own startup after 5 years, or taking responsibility of C level management in departments of TOPICA around South East Asia. All occupations are primarily for under-30-year-old managers having “Smart Creative” nature, no qualification needed, and who are willing to eradicate old experiences. Future CEOs will have a chance to experience 3 positions of management in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Manila (the Philippines) during their first 6 months, before choosing the main position.


Thu Trang


Source: Dantri