As Vietnam undergoes a demographic shift and sees rising consumer demand for higher quality products, internet startup Taembe hopes to ride the wave.
Vietnam is home to 1.5 million new babies born every year. Incomes are on the rise and progressive cultural values about gender equality means more mothers are entering the workforce.
There’s more money to spend, but there’s less time to take care of the kids.
CEO Don Phan and his co-founders, CTO Nghia Pham and buyer Hien Doan have formed a team with experience from Zalora, Foodpanda, cungmua.com, and Grindr that hopes to target this need in the market. As parents themselves, they know the pain points and what sort of solutions that need to be created to solve them.
While not an “everywhere” brand in Vietnam yet, they understand the challenges of starting a company from the beginning. And they stick to their humble roots as a nimble, fast growing player in Vietnam’s ecommerce market.
Lets sit back and get their perspective on Vietnam’s tech ecosystem. While Taembe is no huge startup success story yet, the team has agreed to share their experience so far in building a company from scratch in Vietnam.
What inspired the Taembe brand?
Hien: Our company’s mission is: Making Mom’s Life Easier. We’ve been able to help over 10,000 moms so far in just Ho Chi Minh City. We’re looking forward to the day when we can serve the entire Vietnamese market. More Vietnamese women are entering the workforce, yet the average number of babies a mom has in Vietnam is still holding steady. We’ll hit one million moms served if we keep up the momentum, especially now that we have our infrastructure and scale in place.
What does the baby industry look like in Vietnam? Are we going to see a boom soon?
Hien: Right now, it’s estimated that 5 to 10 million of Vietnam’s 92 million population is a baby or toddler. An average household has 2 to 3 babies and half of a household’s salary goes to raising a baby.
Don: According to a recent Nielsen report, 1 out of 10 Vietnamese households have a baby under the age of one. The opportunity today is huge to capture this segment.
What advice do you have for first-time entrepreneurs? What does it take to start a small but fast growing company?
Don: Pick good co-founders. Many days, I see Hien and Nghia more than I see my spouse, so it helps to have co-founders you like being around. For now, we’re happy to remain and stay low-profile as we build the system and process to scale.
From my experience at Zalora and foodpanda, teambuilding was the most important skill that I took away from each company.
For any kind of company, you can’t do it yourself. You need others to bounce ideas off of and to execute scalable projects. Whenever I meet a solo founder startup, I immediately discount their chances of success. Ultimately, I feel bad for that person, it’s a ton of stress.
What is your vision for Taembe?
Nghia: We are a tech company that happens to sell baby products. Most of my work is managing and developing technology. I code everyday next to a stack of diapers. As someone that has been trained as an engineer, we are a data-oriented company. If you come to our site on your laptop and then switch to your mobile phone, you might notice that the two websites are different. That’s because we are constantly running split A/B testing. Based on the data, we optimize the websites differently. We want to make our decisions based on rigorous analysis and data.
People don’t see us as a technology company. But internally, we are technology-driven and look at our business through the lens of an engineer.
What does Vietnam have to do to continue being a place for startups to grow and thrive?
Nghia: The tech talent is here. Young people have been working for outsourcing firms for decades, but are now realizing their own potential to create startups. That’s why I’m a founder! Hopefully our growth and continued success will inspire other engineers to start their own companies.
Don: I’d like to see more investors taking bets on younger founders. I’ve worked in Vietnam for some time now and the young talent in Vietnam is impressive.
What are the most exciting Vietnamese startups you see breaking out in the next few years?
Nghia: MimosaTek. an agricultural technology company that is trying to increase yields for farmers. If this idea works, it is easily a billion dollar idea company and it will put Vietnam on the startup map. I’m also a big fan of the fintech startup Trusting Social.
Don: I like the travel startup Triip a lot. They make traveling to Vietnam a great experience.
What are 5 things people don’t know about Taembe?
- Don and Nghia are both young fathers
- We only sell things that we would buy for our own kids
- The oldest person in our company is 34 and the next oldest person in 27
- We have an office baby. He’s always with us in the office and is present on all of our advertisements. His name is Graham and Don is his father
- Everyone on staff makes deliveries to our customers. It’s the best way to understand the customer experience