Dare to change

She is the co-founder of the Business Startup Support Centre (BSSC), successfully directing many programmes in assisting start-ups in HCMC and developing those activities on a national scale. Lately, Hoang Phi Ly Truong has decided to leave the position of Director of BSSC and entered larger enterprises with the desire to dedicate to creating a version of Silicon Valley in Vietnam. Let's find out how she become the game-changer?

Hoang Phi Truong Ly is the person who does not always have time to chit chat or go out for coffee but will go straight to business. She took advantage of the Lunar New Year holidays to come to the shooting with The Face Magazine and had a quick interview with a community influencer's professional style. As usual, Hoang Phi is full of energy but also cautious when it comes to her new projects. That is one of her disciplines in the work environment, especially with such crucial plans. Howbeit, Hoang Phi was willingly open when she mentioned BSSC, her brainchild with impressive reputations in 8 years. Talking to her, we couldn't help but observe her bravery and a modern mindset that dares to pioneer, turn ideas into actions, overcome self-doubting, and not be afraid to stand up from failures to create the comprehensive and specialized model in support start-up as it is today.

All strategies from finance, business, human resources, legality, facilities, etc. to hunting, selecting, evaluating start-ups' potential, training, consultation, promotion, etc. are merged in the BSSC system to provide entrepreneurs with the assistance that they need.

Today, BSSC has formed a community of more than 20,000 members who unstoppably research and share their positive contribution to the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Vietnam. BSSC demonstrates its creativity and dynamism via many influential activities for the start-up community. The Startup Wheel competition and the investment exchange of BSSC have attracted more than 5,000 companies and start-ups of every sector on a national scale, thereby discovering 500 promising entrepreneurs and companies in Vietnam and more than 30 start-ups in the regional and international areas. BSSC has also connected, introduced more than 200 foreign and domestic investment funds and investors; around 1,000 businesses and business partners who are willing to participate in supportive activities for start-ups and attracted more than 300 billion VNĐ from many supportive funds for start-ups. BSSC also indicates its significant role as one of the top and most efficient organizations in assisting entrepreneurs in Vietnam.

It is not too hard to recognize Hoang Phi's breakthrough suggestions for the start-up community in Vietnam at many policy dialogues. Hoang Phi, together with BSSC, went through the journey with the mission of earning the trust of the entrepreneurial community and contributed to bringing the value of entrepreneurship into its deserved position in the economy. And that is the story behind her pride that you can always see on her smile whenever she makes an appearance.

Hello Hoang Phi Truong Ly, you have created value chains for the start-up community and build the reputation of BSSC via many activities in the previous period. How do those results mean to you?

I have always wanted to dedicate my competences to make an endeavour that brings meaningful, valuable, positive and long-term influences for the community. Fortunately, BSSC has allowed me to work and live with my desire from all this time.

Personally, BSSC provided me with too many experiences, lessons as well as feelings that are not easy to find. Because of BSSC, I saved for myself three types of "assets": positive mindsets, vigorous actions and the mentors around me. I think, in business, when you choose a job that brings beneficial impacts on the community, the rewards could not be counted by the value of money, they are measured by the harmonious relationships and the bonds between friends and colleagues having the same vision. My mentors are the businessmen and women, start-ups, investors, consultants, strategists, and also my colleagues. I like to call them my mentors because they always saved their time and their genuineness for me; they also inspire my enthusiasm to follow the journey that I choose.

All of those unique relationships has motivated me to continue with the determination and hope to climb other mountains and contribute more to the start-up community in Vietnam.

You are almost at the peak of your career with BSSC, why do you want to change?

I think of it differently because, for me, no one can define what "at the peak of a career" is, especially with the systems like BSSC. I have done it simply because of my love for BSSC and the passion that I want to follow.

First of all let's talk about my love for BSSC. Even though BSSC has created such enormous and positive impacts, BSSC has a particular model, not only in the structure, operational method but in the connection to available resources as well. And it is undeniable that I had many advantages of working for BSSC too. However, it is the time for BSSC to change and get the opportunity to have a makeover, what if it is better. I want to emphasize the value of the word "opportunity". We could not keep holding onto our rewards and think that only we can make the best out of it. For an excellent founder, leader or business manager, they set up a foundation for the business to reserve the core value and operate well even without them.

From my perspective, in the same professions or sectors, we have many different positions and respects and ways to contribute. Eventually, I still want to experience, discover and uncover more of my potential. Moreover, I would like to broaden my knowledge and have the chances to learn from other viewpoints to continue dedicating and boosting the start-up and innovation economy in Vietnam.

Stepping into a new working environment, or we could say, a brand fresh start, does this change make you nervous?

This change has brought me many bizarre feelings such as senses of worry and eagerness, but on top of those, it is the positive energy to refresh my mindset and working style. Forgetting the glory of the previous days, I am now ready to be a learner and start from scratch. Everyone is scared of changes, the same for me. But I think everything happens for a reason. The decisions for changes come along with a whole process of thinking, considering the pros and cons of them. Knowing what you want is a vital element to accept stepping into "the game".

When everything changes, do you have any preparation for future goals?

Psychosphere. That is the first thing I prepare. It sounds simple, but it is not only like that. "Ups" and "downs" are the rules of every rule and also the initial feelings when we begin something. Thus, I understand that preparing a stable psychosphere helps me to get along with and easily open for the contexts that I have not anticipated. What also important is the willing-to-learn attitude and adaption in new environments. Every change needs flexibility, positivity and patience. And for sure, it is only the beginning; obviously, I need more time and support from my mentors, my colleagues, my family and I guess, it may need a bit of luck too (laughing).

In the past few years, the term "start-up" has been mentioned usually but to understand precisely this concept as a person who experienced in this environment for many years, how would you like to conceptualize this term?

The whole world is talking about start-up, so for sure, even though every economy has its different features or development rates, the abstract and real values that start-ups contribute to the global economy are irrefutable. Solely the term "start-up" is already intrinsically meaningful, and I want to use the image of start-up as a virus of innovation and creativity. Why the virus? Because apart from its newness, creativity in the products, services, useful and unique experiences for customers, etc., the business operation methods, as well as the technology, have been extended to the level that could quickly spread out, break the old rules and orders and go beyond the limitation of space and time.

From the perspective of a person who spent many years with the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Vietnam, I think this is an inevitable megatrend that requires to be taken into consideration and to invested adequately in terms of both policy implementation and start-up individuals in the entrepreneurial economy. There is nothing short-term and lacking initial resources. Behind a successful start-up are many people, the environment and thinking mindset and of course, the pioneering force that dares to think and work differently and dare to take risks.

You have always been known as a person who set up new goals and non-stop challenge yourself, where does that characteristic originate from?

I think, first of all, it is my personality and the environment that have a chemical reaction and creates a chemical compound making my features, apart from the impact of my fear of letting people down.

When I was young, because of my family context, I had to go to school at an earlier age than everyone else. My classmates were all older than me. Although I was just a kid, I was terrified of having the lowest rank in the class; I wanted to have excellent academic results and become the monitor. It might sound ridiculous, but those were very first challenges of my life, right? And I did it, achieving all of my little goals.

Going to high school and higher education, I entered distinct races. In high school, I studied at a gifted school. From a student living a rural area transferred to a prestigious school of the province, I had to move out from my family, started an independent life and had more chances to observe the world around me. All of my minds then was all about that my family had spent everything for me, their effort and trust always motivate me to establish the goals that force me to be on different journeys including the ones I was good at and the ones I was not. Every time I achieved a goal, I put myself again in another more challenging goal, and just like that, I am now getting used to better myself every day.

I myself always think that I have an ordinary initial point, thus, if I don't try to "swim ahead" I will sink. That feeling urges me to go forward, aim for my targets and reach them. The values that I target are the experiences and the senses of daily self-improvement. More importantly, after an occasion of goal-attainment, I can look back at my starting point and realize that I have made this far with my journey.

Hoang Phi Truong Ly in the role of head organizing committee as well as the judge in the Startup Wheel Competition 2013-2018; head of organizing committee of many events in Vietnam Young Leader Forum 2014-2018; head of organizing committee of Startup Exchange 2013-2019; etc.

Can you tell us more about the first days you stepped into the business after graduating from school and do not have any experience in working? Also, how do the first networks affect the formation and development as well as motivate and inspire you, as a young person, to go all out for your ideas?

My first study program is not related to business, and I did not think that the business environment fits me until I went into the senior year of my study. It was the moment I realized that my personalities do not match any the roads and significant I had followed previously. Graduating as a valedictorian, I turned to apply for positions in the places of business. Also, I enrolled on a postgraduate degree in Business Administration and continued pursuing my career in the industry.

After working for a while, I found that I am not really suitable for works that are repeated, painless and not required creativity. I was expecting for a job with new things for me to learn every single day. But, I do understand that not everyone can get their dream jobs and it is perfect as they think. That fact changed my thoughts and pushed me to look on the bright side: new things do not only come from the work itself, but they are in our attitudes as well. That realization is the turning point in my mindset that brought me a lot of learning opportunities.

I want to tell more about my former leader, a director of a place I used to work for, up to now, I still see him as an uncle, a father. He is the first person that taught me the practice of management. I always remember the first task I was assigned was reading the materials, and taking relevant notes, searching for more useful and relatable information to help him make the fastest decision for every decision document. Every time I read, I would put myself in his shoes and considered how I would deal with a problem. I also practised to write down my suggestions for some issues, and when I received his different results from my thoughts, I would ask for the reasons, and he was always willing to explain in details every evidence for his decisions. For me, those explanations are the valuable management lessons that brought me closer to the experiences that a business manager needs. I think that was the first breakthrough in my mindset. It gave me the motivation to step out of my comfort zone and come to BSSC when I met my second mentor.

Honestly, from the time I was young until now, there were many times I missed a chance and wished I had had more beneficial and sufficient resources to go beyond my goals or at least reach my goals with much faster rates. Nonetheless, looking back on my journey, I recognized how lucky I was. You know, we cannot have everything in life, and when we miss something in our life, we have the motivation and form our habits to overcome our limitations. "When a learner is ready, the mentor will appear". I have too many challenges, but in return, I get genuine support from all the people that I met. I have so many mentors with various lessons to learn, observe and target for the more and more challenging goals. And all of that has shaped a today version of "Hoang Phi Truong Ly".

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