HATCH! Fair the Fifth: Hanoi – Danang – HCMC

Nam “Chris” Nguyen pitching College Scout at HATCH! Fair the Fifth

I had a great time at the the fifth HATCH! Fair in Hanoi.  I was there for part of the pitching competition in which young entrepreneurs have three (3) minutes to pitch their businesses to a jury board.  (Yes, it’s exactly three minutes.  They run a tight ship!)  There are three (3) more minutes for the judges to ask questions.  Last year, there were 305 applications and 54 “hand-picked startups”, an acceptance rate of 17.7%, not unlike that of the most selective colleges and universities in the US.  (UC Berkeley had a 2016 acceptance rate of 17.5%.)

IMG_2881It was an inspiration listening to so many ideas, some of which will be transformed into practice and others not.  The highlight was the pitch by Nam “Chris” Nguyen, of College Scout (CS), who finished with a few seconds to spare.  I was impressed by his energy, focus, and enthusiasm.  Congratulations to Nam for rocking it at the 5th HATCH! Fair!

What is College Scout (CS)? 

It’s a Hanoi-based ed-tech startup whose services include but also transcend preparing young people for overseas higher education admission.  Most companies focus on the latter.  In other words, the professional spotlight is what happens before they board the flight to their host country to begin their studies and a new life.  CS does that and much more.  Perhaps more importantly, it prepares students for academic, cultural, and social success in a new and often very challenging environment.  In doing so, it takes the long and holistic view of each young person as a student, future professional, and global citizen. 

CS logo

For families with students planning to study in North America, College Scout is a “one-stop readiness service”. Unlike traditional education agents and related companies that provide ancillary services related to overseas study, CS provides fun and effective prep activities that increase their chances for success not only in the application and admission process, but in the areas of academic, cultural, and social adjustment.  (Full disclosure:  I’m a proud member of the CS advisory board.) 

What is HATCH!?

According to its website, the mission of HATCH! is to support entrepreneurs and promote the early-stage startup ecosystem in Vietnam. By the end of 2013, HATCH! was among the top names for entrepreneurship development in Vietnam, with activities that have made dozens of international headlines; and, not just for the organization, but also for our innovative startups, and their founders and investors, as well as HATCH! partners and sponsors.

HATCH! is the brainchild of Aaron Everhart, who had this to say about the organization:  I’m pretty proud of building HATCH!, which grew from a small coffee-talk meeting in Ho Chi Minh City in 2012 to Vietnam’s largest and leading startup and entrepreneurship ecosystem builder. We’ve built it grass-roots using borrowed spaces, volunteer time, and instant coffee packets. Now we’re proud to be producing Vietnam’s only major international startup exhibition and conference, HATCH! FAIR each year…  Aaron’s tag line isI turn ideas into companies,” and he does! 


“Reconsider” – Of Startups, Making a Dent in the Universe & Living Happily Ever After

Below are some excerpts from a speech given at Web Summit 2015 in Dublin by David Heinemeier Hansson, spot-on advice for the dynamic and vibrant startup community in Vietnam.  Hansson describes himself on his personal website as “the creator of Ruby on Rails, founder & CTO at Basecamp (formerly 37signals), best-selling author, Le Mans class-winning racing driver, public speaker, hobbyist photographer, and family man.”

1 aQrgExniHXF_37Hxemw8TA

About 12 years ago, I co-founded a startup called Basecamp: A simple project collaboration tool that helps people make progress together, sold on a monthly subscription.

It took a part of some people’s work life and made it a little better. A little nicer than trying to manage a project over email or by stringing together a bunch of separate chat, file sharing, and task systems. Along the way it made for a comfortable business to own for my partner and me, and a great place to work for our employees.

That’s it.

It didn’t disrupt anything. It didn’t add any new members to the three-comma club. It was never a unicorn. Even worse: There are still, after all these years, less than fifty people working at Basecamp. We don’t even have a San Francisco satellite office!

make a dent in the universe

The web is the greatest entrepreneurial platform ever invented. Lowest barriers of entry, greatest human reach ever. I love the web. Permission-less, grand reach, diversity of implementation. Don’t believe this imaginary wall of access of money. It isn’t there.

Examine and interrogate your motivations, reject the money if you dare, and startup something useful. A dent in the universe is plenty.

Curb your ambition.

Live happily ever after.

If you want to read what comes between these two bookend excerpts, strap yourself in and follow this link!