“Basically, we had to redo the product twice, and it taught me an important lesson: we should never be too stubborn but always be open to the feedback loop.”
Vy Nguyen - CTO and Co-founder at Hello Clever
My life has been a journey filled with moments of both tranquility and turbulence, but it was during the period right after college graduation that I felt most lost. As someone who loves to explore and learn, I was uncertain about what direction to take, and my doubts grew increasingly overwhelming. However, it was during my time at Microsoft, where I worked as an employee, that I met a mentor who would have an immense impact on my life. She was a trailblazer in the technology industry in Vietnam, and her approach to work inspired me to focus on creating products that truly cared about the users.
After leaving Microsoft, I embarked on a new adventure as an entrepreneur. The journey was arduous, especially at the beginning when I felt discouraged and yearned to return to a more stable corporate life. My technical background posed a challenge, and I had to acquire new skills like pitching, negotiation, management, and sales. Yet, this new path helped me gain valuable experiences and skills that would have taken years to acquire if I had stayed in a fixed environment.
The launch of Hello Clever was particularly challenging, as two Vietnamese individuals launched a fintech project in the Australian market, leading teams in both Australia and Vietnam. The team in Vietnam consisted of only about ten developers, while a business team remained in Australia to develop the market. This presented its own set of advantages and challenges, especially when competing with other startups abroad. While our engineering cost was not as high as others, it was difficult to find suitable partners to go the distance with the project.
Basically, we had to redo the product twice, and it taught me an important lesson: we should never be too stubborn but always be open to the feedback loop. Each idea is a “new theory,” which may not be new in terms of the idea itself, but it is new to the market, target segment… and the startup’s task is to prove that “theory” to be right with its customers. Initially, we focused too much on perfecting the product and didn’t listen enough to feedback from customers. This led to a lot of time being wasted fixing the product. Later on, we shifted our development process into a continuous spiral between developers and customers, always maintaining an open state to receive feedback and continuously improve the product.
During the process of building Hello Clever, I faced cultural differences and communication barriers in Australia as a non-native person, especially when researching consumer behavior and financial management of our target customer group. However, this also became an advantage for us because we could provide fresh perspectives and innovative methods that were not available in Australia, and that is how we differentiated ourselves.
Looking back, I wish I had told myself to learn more and not make any excuses when I first started my full-time job after graduation. Although I am a fairly disciplined person who divides tasks and time to complete them, I would have applied more discipline to learning, especially in the technology industry, which changes rapidly. If I had spent even just four hours a week learning something new, I would be a different person now.
I am proud of my achievements, especially my firstborn product, Hello Clever. Despite moments of peer pressure, I remind myself of what I have gone through and what I have accomplished. Work is important, but I also take the time to travel and refresh myself. Sometimes, doing silly things can be fun, like when I spontaneously went to Angkor Wat by bus without any plans. Looking back, these spontaneous moments have become some of my most treasured memories.