I am Truong Nguyen, a Mizzou MBA Alumnus. Like the road you are walking on to study abroad, I am lucky to accomplish the two-intensive-year program in the Midwest state of Missouri, the native land of the Former U.S. President Harry S Truman. You know, even now when in Vietnam and super busy on one of the toughest Fall seasons in my life, dealing with the peak and trough of my business venture, I can’t stop thinking of the unforgettable chapter in lovely Mizzou. It is not only the reputable Crosby MBA Program and great hands-on experience I have reaped during the courses but also astonishing people, places, atmosphere, and cultural values of college town Mizzou and The U.S. that cherish my small family’s heart and mind. My love to the home of Tigers and the land of freedom blew out workaday concerns and pushed me to write down some words to share with you, the potential Mizzou students (and hopefully my future friend circle), about my brief journey after the Crosby MBA.

Truong's family enjoying the pumpkin festival in Missouri

It is me for now an entrepreneur at Olymsearch, a vertical search engine for e-commerce market in Vietnam. First, I must confess that “entrepreneur” or “startup” is not a flowery word as many perceive. Returning to Vietnam early in January 2014, I decided not to waste my youth to live other people’s life and challenged myself with incubating startup activities and community in Vietnam. My first project on early education app, even with pretty good product concept, has almost failed because of team capacity. Mid summer was a memorable period. I ran two startup teams, one was a wedding platform and the other was Olymsearch, to successfully raised pre-seed round fund sponsored by Hanoi-based business accelerator Vietnam Silicon Valley in May, 2014. I finally went with Olymsearch team, with those who dared take risk, carried big vision, were fully committed, and matched my perception of a dream gang. My entrepreneurship life has been activated, comprehensively, and comes along burden with me on the adventure.

Countless number of questions, tasks and events have come and gone to my mind during the first four long summer months in Hanoi: What is the real problem and opportunity out there? Does our product fit the market? Who are our competitors and how to make our product distinguish from the existing and potential rivals? How to hack the growth as a B2B2C firm in e-commerce market? What would be our early market/ early adopters and how to overcome the chasm to reach the mainstream market? How to solve problem of tight budget for the rapid growth of human resource needed? Which would be the optimal ways to build brand while product is still researched, built, and tested? How to raise fund for the next round?, etc. MBA knowledge and historical experience did help but not too much, since what I am working on is unprecedented to me, let alone I am a non-technical and non-e-commerce guy.

Truong's Olymsearch animated portrait

On the other side of the coin, I have learned considerably during a very short time, especially the mindset of doing a tech startup and making it a grown-up. Now I am experiencing the value of Managing Complex Change: Vision, Skill, Incentives, Resources, and Action Plan. Without vision you will be confused; without skills you will be anxious; without incentives (to anyone who joins the organization) you will be resistant; without resources you will be frustrated; and without action plan you will confront with a false start. For me, I always keep this thought in mind no matter which journey and obstacle I would progress. I hope the summation works for you, too. My path to future is still blurry with lots of challenges, especially in terms of funding, product, market and team to get Olymsearch survived and accelerated to reach the vision to become Google of Local E-commerce. The only thing I can consolidate is my passion for startup and Olymsearch, even though such passion and belief might be unwise to some extent. But why not be hungry and keep living the passion while we are still young?

My friend, you are surely much younger than me, a guy at early 30, and your future should be even much brighter than mine with all the experience you are possessing, superior condition you are having, and outstanding vision you are imagining with your talent. As long as you determine to the map you have drawn, “stay hungry, stay foolish”, I believe you will meet the luck to reach the destination. And yes, “you have reached the destination” is one of the most popular phrases each of us will hear on GPS for car on the road trips at the end of each journey. I hope you will accomplish not only your dream to study abroad in America and then enjoy fantastic road trips states to states during the breaks but big dream of your life as well. You know you are blessed. Just don’t forget to pay it forward. Good luck!

Editor’s Note: You can find more information on Truong Nguyen’s startup by visiting Olymsearch website.

They were featured at Tech in Asia as one of the nine startups in the Vietnam Sillicon Valley Project in 2014.