Updated: Jan 25
Good morning Annie, I am very happy to meet you today to discuss your startup company TUBUDD. Could you first tell us about your personal career and explain why you have decided to create your own business?
I am Annie, co-founder of Tubudd. After my graduation from the Academy of journalism and communication in Vietnam, I flew to UK for a master degree in 2014.
I started working for a company for sales and marketing in Manchester for 2 years from an entry level to Business Development Manager.
In UK, I met many foreign tourists who told me they did not really understand much about British Culture except fish and chips. In reality, I found out that the British culture was quite interesting by meeting and discussing with locals. So, I wanted to take this opportunity to create a business to connect locals with foreign tourists to share their local culture.
Could you also tell us who are the 2 other founders and why you decided to work together?
Anthony who is the COO of the company, is my friend from Manchester. He got the same experience with other tourists when he was traveling around Europe.
Before joining TUBUDD, Anthony was a sales manager for a telesales company.
The last founder, Ethan, is a childhood friend who worked as IT engineer in Singapore. He is now the CTO of the company.
Why did you decide to work together
When I shared my ideas with both of them, they agreed with me since they experienced the same feelings when they traveled to other countries and wanted to know more about local cultures. That’s why we discussed together and decided to do this project. My job was to take care of anything from the company outside such as dealing with investors, pitching, dealing with partnership, fighting for business development. Sometimes, I could be impatient when facing certain situations and they pulled me back in the question so that we could find the best solution for the company
How did you fund the company
In the early stage, to get enough money to launch this project I asked all my 5000 Facebook’s friends to give me 1$. I was thinking if everybody gave us 1$, I would have $5000 to start with. But when I asked Ethan, he offered to help us in the technical side instead of giving 1$.
Could you explain what is your business?
The idea is to share local culture with tourists by connecting them with local tour guides (or people) who speak the same language. TUBUDD is a marketplace for tourists and local guides: the tourists can choose the right local guide who speaks the same language or has the same points of interest. We have launched this service in many countries. We are now targeting Korean tourists.
Why have you decided to focus on the Korean market?
Korean is a very interesting market and we spent six months in Korea last year to study this market and we definitely saw the big potential of Korean tourists for Vietnam for some reasons:
- The first reason is that South Korea is very close to Vietnam and 20 % of Koreans travel abroad each year.
- The second one is they share the same oriental culture and they love Vietnam. Last year, they represented 40 % of the foreign tourists visiting Vietnam. It is interesting, especially now, since most borders are closed and but the vietnamese borders are opened for Korea.
- The third reason is that Koreans are similar to Vietnamese people when they travel : they don't speak English very well so they prefer to buy travel services to have a better understanding of the countries they visit.
- The last one is about competition : most Vietnamese tour agencies only focus on English speaking guides. So, if we offer another language like Korean, we would really have the opportunity to target people who are not addressed by the other tour agencies.
I think it could be valuable for our readers to understand what are the biggest issues you have met since the beginning of your story?
· The first main issue is about Marketing strategy : although we have a CFO taking care of the finance, a CTO developing the platform and a CEO (me), we still lack a clear market strategy to expand into other countries.
· The second one is about recruitment : young people working for start ups usually don’t have the commitment to work very long in one place. They frequently look around to find a better job.
· The last one is about funding : If we want to grow in a new market, we have to get enough money to invest especially into marketing and advertising.
What are you main projects for the future ?
We want to provide to local guides a platform where they could introduce themselves, their services, their point of interest and where they will present their country.
We also plan to train individual young people working in the hospitality sector to offer better services to foreigners .
Finally, we are looking for investors who could be our partner in the long term and who will share our vision.
What are the problems you have met with investors?
At first, we have met a lot of investors who only asks for lots of shares without really understanding our business.
Some of them wanted to invest much money at the early stage to take control of our company but we did not agree.
Some others, after having put money in our company, didn’t really help us to develop our business. We don’t only need financial investment, but also assistance to develop our operations.
Thank you, Annie, I hope you example will be useful for new start-uppers and that your wishes will be fulfilled by the innovation ecosystem.