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VinUniversity Students: Becoming Entrepreneurs before Bachelors

May 28, 2022

VinUniversity students are Entrepreneurs first and Bachelors second

Being in an environment that encourages entrepreneurship and innovation like VinUniversity, students get the chance to become entrepreneurs even before they earn their Bachelor’s degree.

Learn to think big to get big

50.000 USD was the amount granted to Nguyen Minh Tuan – a sophomore at the VinUniversity College of Engineering and Computer Science – from Swiss-based NEAR Foundation to carry out his blockchain-based project that helps authenticate personal information.

Few projects receive funding from NEAR at the conceptual stage and even fewer led by a 19-year-old Vietnamese. The project earned a “yes” from NEAR’s Review Board for its necessity and practicality.

My goal is to establish my company in Singapore next September then raise 2 million USD in the 1st funding round, valuing my business at approximately 20 million USD” – shared the confident VinUnian on his ambitious plan at the recent “Teaching and Learning Summit” hosted by VinUniversity.

At VinUniversity, Minh Tuan is not the exception. This 2-year-old university is nurturing dozens of potential projects, including start-ups, start-up platforms, and start-up ecosystems.

One example is UpYouth – the first student-led tech start-up incubator in Vietnam. This support platform was co-founded by Nguyen Tuan Minh – a freshman at the VinUniversity College of Business and Management. In its 1st year, UpYouth has successfully supported ambitious young people to raise 2.5 million USD. At the moment, UpYouth has over 2000 members, who are students from leading universities inside and outside the country driven by their desire to start-up.

UpYouth’s young co-founder believes that, for international investment funds, innovative thinking is the differentiating factor of student-led projects. Firstly, project leaders must think like an entrepreneur, who  wants to create a real product for a real market, unlike writing a project for class. Secondly, they must think like the world is thinking. This means that issues VinUniversity students pursue must be related to global problems, like aging population, autonomous vehicles, renewable energy, smart agriculture, smart healthcare, etc.

From their personal experiences, Tuan and Minh believe that start-up is not an impossible challenge for young Vietnamese people. The two “big names” of technology – Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg – founded their business when they were in university and only 19-20 years old.

The key to overcoming your limits is how you set your goals – what and to what extent. In order to get big, you must dare to think big. This is what I learned at VinUniversity” – Tuan Minh commented.

“Accelerate” towards entrepreneurship right in school

Leaving a prestigious university abroad to return to Vietnam and study at VinUniversity, Tuan Minh believes he made the right choice. VinUniversity possesses valuable “resources”, namely networks with world-leading universities, connections with big multinational corporations, and generous student support policies. These provide the launch pad for students to become internationally successful faster and earlier.

In February 2022, VinUniversity established the Entrepreneurship Lab – modeled after those of Cornell University and MIT. Dr. Phi Thi Linh Giang, Director of VinUniversity E-lab, shared that students are taught the spirit of entrepreneurship right when they enter VinUniversity. Students with budding ideas will be mentored closely by the Lab to develop them. When the time is right, students will receive small grants of 2,000 USD/project to experiment. Potential projects will be chosen at the Acceleration Round and provided with financial support of up to 10,000 USD/team.

This June, the University will kick-off its “incubation” season with approximately 10 start-up projects, lasting 3 months.

The Lab’s mentors are all experienced business people and managers with keen business acumen. In an enabling environment where potential students get mentored by good teachers and provided with financial support, students will surely develop quickly and achieve early success” – affirmed Dr. Linh Giang.

Entrepreneurial spirit hand-in-hand with business acumen

At the 1st Teaching and Learning Summit, Mr. Khairul Rusydi, co-founder and CEO of Reactor School (Southeast Asia’s leading Etnrepreneurship Program based in Singapore), noted the differences between an “entrepreneurship program” and a “business program”. An entrepreneurship program provides the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required for start-ups. On the other hand, a business program helps students develop new business ideas and work with companies to create marketable projects. 

According to Dr. Le Mai Lan, Vice President of Vingroup and President of VinUniversity, at VinUniversity, entrepreneurship is not just taught in class, but also in a series of activities. Not all students have the qualities or the desire to become entrepreneurs, but they all need entrepreneurial spirit and thinking to become leaders. This means that they need to know how to seize opportunities, take risks, make decisions, and bear the responsibilities of their decisions. No matter the path students want to pursue – research, business or entrepreneurship, these skills remain necessary.

Vingroup’s slogan is ‘forever entrepreneurial spirit’. Vingroup itself is an ever-changing start-up ecosystem. We hope to not just inspire and incubate start-ups led by VinUniversity students, but also to promote this entrepreneurial spirit to all young people” – shared Dr. Le Mai Lan. 

The “Annual Teaching and Learning Summit” was held by VinUniversity from 17-18 June 2022. The event focused on innovation in teaching and learning, with the goal of reshaping Vietnamese higher education in the 21st century. The Summit enjoyed the participation of leaders from the Ministry of Education and Training, as well as approximately 400 reputable academic leaders, experts, and educators from leading institutions and universities around the world.