After discovering Vietnam in 2012 during an internship, I realized that I wanted to start my career as entrepreneur in Vietnam. This is how I became an entrepreneur in Vietnam after my studies in France.

Entrepreneur in Vietnam Nicolas Thanh at CDG airport with my mom

So I started to build a first business called “Jump in Vietnam” where I was head hunting graduating foreign students for local companies to do an internship in Vietnam before getting hired full time.

It took me 6 month from the time to arrive in Vietnam to make my first $ (or I should say my first Vietnam Dong). Creating a company in Vietnam was pretty simple compared to what I was used to in France. And even as of today it’s still quite straight forward. In a week you can get the paperwork operational from the moment you apply.

But in the case of my first business, back in 2012, it took me 6 months because I had to figure out everything. My English was too basic and I didn’t speak Vietnamese. So if you are like me, expect a few months to get started at least unless you pay a consultant or a lawyer and their services are really good.

Nicolas Thanh Entrepreneur in Vietnam

So here was the process I followed to become an entrepreneur in Vietnam after my studies abroad:

  1. I started looking for lawyers or consultants who provide incorporation services or company setup in Ho Chi Minh City (where I intended to base my company).
  2. With them, I shared my business scope of activity to get an idea of the complexity of such a project. For example I realised that building an “HR company” was difficult, so I had to build a “HR consulting services company”.
  3. Once the company is created, you have to send the foreign investment money from your home country to Vietnam, and of course open a corporate bank account. Then you can pretty much start operating.

As of today (2023) building a business is the same steps. The only common issue small entrepreneurs face are that to have a 100% foreign company, you have a minimum to invest. So many foreigners now choose the route of partnering with a local, in order to minimize the setup costs of building a company in Vietnam.

One issue I faced when I opened my business right after my studies was that I was young… And the business etiquette in Vietnam wants you to be older to be respected more. So I faced many refusal at the beginning and I had to lie on my age or restrain myself with business partners that were from the same generation. This wasn’t such a big issue as the Vietnamese population was quite young and Ho chi Minh City was a big city, with millions business opportunities.

Another issue was the cultural barrier. Being a foreigner, I was facing a lot of difficulties to understand Vietnamese when they were dealing with each other. I could manage to overcome this problem by taking intensive courses (4h everyday) of Vietnamese. After 4 months, I was able to speak, read and impress my future local partners.

The good thing of being a young entrepreneur in Vietnam, fresh out of college is the daily life costs; it’s affordable to stay in Vietnam. And when your business is not yet profitable it’s a small release.

If you are finishing your studies and have a business idea, don’t hesitate to come to Vietnam and transform it into a profitable opportunity! Just come to Saigon and join the numerous networking events for Entrepreneurs to find like minded people and kickstart your business.