Do Tuan Anh, founder of Appota, had a great idea at 11:30 PM. He felt blessed by the recent good news with his startup: great traction and revenue growth, launch of new exciting products, a series B funding round, plenty of media coverage and speaking invitations.
All of these happening just more than 2 years after he was almost broke and disoriented, as he shared with the audience in a recent event. Then he joined the first batch of a new accelerator program, Topica Founder Institute, in which he was overwhelmed by the openness and willingness of 30 or so mentors, who are accomplished startup founders and investors themselves. This help in knowledge and networking opportunities, without anything significant in exchange(*), helped Do find a new business model and energy to implement, and set him on a new trajectory.
Tuan Anh’s idea was, "Why don’t I also help newer startups the same way?" The most practical mean to do this was to offer 10 scholarships to the same program, so the new founders could be exposed to the same knowledge and supportive community that he had been.
We are just following the examples of Silicon Valley founders, and the previous generation of accomplished founders in Vietnam, by helping the new upstarts." - Do Tuan Anh
Nguyen Quang Duc, founder of HSP Yton and another grad of TFI, loved the idea. He had raised one of the largest Series A rounds in Vietnam, from a Japanese investor, and had been wondering the same for a while: how to help other new startups. One of his ideas was to invest in them through his HSP Ventures arm, but it may take a while to find suitable deals and structures. Offering scholarships to TFI, however, seemed practical and quick. After a short discussion, he decided to match Tuan Anh’s offer with another 10 scholarships.
We hope that many others in the startup community would also join us in lending a hand, whether through the same scholarship scheme, or in any other way." - Nguyen Quang Duc
Ngo Van Trung, founder of TruePlus Software, graduated from TFI with his project Giaytot.com, also joined the force to support the next generation of TFI, with 10 scholarship in the next course TFI Summer 2014. He hopes that in the next few years, with help from TFI, Vietnam will have startups which have name on the global map and help the country grow to a new level.
Robert Noyce (Founder/CEO of Intel), Steve Jobs and The Pay-It-Forward Culture
Anh-Minh Do of Techinasia last year created a heated debate with an article on “10 Actions Vietnamese People Need to Take to Save Their Startup Scene Today”, among them number one is Give Before You Get Mentality.
Last year, Hung Dinh, founder of Joomlart and a popular startup community advocator, initiated the “Silicon Fund” to bring new startups on trips to immerse in Silicon Valley culture. 6 other startups contributed to the fund, and 4 new startups were selected to attend the trip, which take them to Google, Facebook, Techcrunch Disrupt, and was described by many of them as an eye-opening experience.
(*) Although the global Founder Institute network does collect a 3.5% of equity warrants from the enrolling startups, and proceeds from any exits are shared with the mentors, fellow startups and Founder Institute organizers, this seems like a quite distant and small benefit, and most mentors are not even aware of this until after the mentoring sessions.