Danang, the largest city located in the center of Vietnam, has been known in the past few years as the most desirable city to live in Vietnam. I have visited Danang twice this year and dare to say that fact is so true. In fact, Danang has rolled model after Singapore for its urban planning as well as ICT infrastructure planning. I personally want to align Danang to Bali, Indonesia in terms of its virtue with international startups as well as a tourist attraction with the natural scene of Danang plus Hoi An is pretty much similar between the 2 cities.
In this post, I will cover a little bit more on what’s going on with the city with regards to startups, the software engineering community, the support of former senior officer from local government and a slice of the education landscape.
DNES, Danang Incubator
If you are an entrepreneur from elsewhere and visiting Danang, the first stop after leaving the airport that you should check out is DNES, the address is 31 Tran Phu street. It’s just stone’s throw away from the central government office of the city.
DNES was launched in early of 2016 and its brand-new co-working space has welcomed guests since beginning of October. It was directly funded by the local government to support the burgeoning startups of the city. The amount to revamp the space that I was told is almost 1 million USD. DNES essentially is a startup incubator with facilities such as co-working space. At its peak capacity, space can host up to 100 members working from there. A local journalist shared with me that the “startup movement” in this city started about early 2015 and has picked up the limelight since early 2016. At the time of this writing, DNES is the only public co-working space in the city.
Over the weekend of 22–23 October, I brought in friends who are active in the recruiting and angel investing scene in Singapore to share at 2 events in DNES.
In the first event on 22nd October, I did it together with Jonathan Chua — managing partner at Redwood Search — and CEO, founder at Grdient. Jonathan has written several cheques to invest in an early stage at startups in SEA region. Jonathan has also helped recruit engineers, marketing, sales for startups at various stages around SEA region. I shared an overview of startup landscape in Singapore. Jonathan shared about an overview of the global economy and what it means to startups when they come to to the stage of fundraising. We wrapped up the session by reviewing pitches from a couple of startups incubated by DNES and one from Saigon.
With the second event on 23rd October, I did it together with Jonathan andDe’Angello — senior business development at Randstad. The audience was software engineering students, software engineers and a couple of managers of software companies in the city. De’Angello shared about job landscape in Singapore, Jonathan shared about his journey with helping startups build teams. I shared my personal story of how I landed in Singapore 10 years ago and some tips for engineering students to excel better in their career. A lot of excellent questions asked from the audience on the 3 speakers.
Grass root software engineering communities
Techsoup is a non-profit event series hosted every month to discuss different topics about career development for software engineering students. One of its main sponsors is MGM, a software company. Besides Techsoup, DevDay is an annual event for developers, it’s mainly sponsored by Axon Active, another software company in the city. It’s has been run for 2 years and I was told that developers in the city are really looking forward to it every year. In early November, Google Dev Fest will take place at DNES. That is a festival-like event with activities like hackathon and app competition for developers. Organizer of that event is Google Developer Group , the founder of that group is working days and nights to make sure it goes well. I was touched to see how different players within the ecosystem in the city come together to support and nurture software engineering talents.
Support from local government senior officers
I was told that some decision makers in the local startups scene here have planned to develop a co-working and co-living space in a few years time. The purpose of that facility is to welcome startups from other places come to Danang for working and living at the same time.
I had a brief chat with Mr Khuong, the former deputy chairman of Danang local government and current chairman of DNES. I was sharing my view that Danang started later than the other 2 cities — Hanoi and Saigon — but I am sure the city will come first. He simply commented that he does not follow the crowd in terms of what others have been doing. In the room next door, he was welcoming some guests to attend a roundtable of angel investors in the Mekong Delta region to help the startups.
A slice of the Education landscape
During my time of staying in Danang, I booked a room at a home-stay villa — its name is Meraki. The villa is full of guests from different places of the world checking out the city. The owner is a young lady who was educated at NTU university in Singapore. She struggled with getting a working visa after graduation in Singapore and decided to move back Danang.
After arrival at the villa, what caught my attention immediately was a little corner of English class with a few learners ranging from the retired elderly and secondary school students. The trainer was a Westerner lady, and she seems to be one of the guests staying in the villa. The owner shared with me briefly that she was experimenting with an EdTech startup idea to help train conversational English to the people. In my own observation, she seems to adopt the lean methodology pretty well with testing the idea out to make sure it works first before building a product. At the time when I checked out, she and her husband were busy with discussing some business plan with a partner.
Within the villa neighborhood, there is a place looks like a student care center. At the moment when I captured the photo, the center was sending its students home in the late evening time. I personally feel like the people in this city are working really hard to equip themselves with knowledge and skills in order to get them ready for the opportunities brought in by the local government in the years to come.
Danang city has brought good impressions to me so far in terms of the urban infrastructure, the weather, the food, nature, the government leaders, the grass root communities especially the people. Everyone I have had a conversation with or observed briefly, they are working really hard to earn more or get themselves ready for a better life in the future. With direct international flights from Singapore, Hong Kong, Incheon, etc to Danang, entrepreneurs from elsewhere should take a look at this city besides just Hanoi or Saigon.
Le Thanh Son – https://medium.com/@thsonvt/why-you-should-be-in-danang-now-54bbc8b81711#.i0tjzunkh