Business Trends in Vietnam in 2020: James Vuong, RealStake Founder and CEO
In the world upended by COVID-19, James Vuong, RealStake Founder and CEO, share his insights and business trends in 2020.
All Business Trends in Vietnam in 2020 features:
Business trends 2020 – executive summary.
What was the brightest spot in your industry, and for your team, in 2019?
For the industry, especially at the intersection of prop-tech and fintech where RealStake sits, the brightest spot was the huge interest from investors — angels and VCs alike. All of Southeast Asia was super hot, but Vietnam still managed to stand out. There was just so much money chasing the very few good startups in our sector!
For our team, the brightest spot was that we were able to gain traction despite being Vietnam’s very first real estate investment syndication platform. Especially during a time when trust is in short supply, with many scams in crypto and real estate space.
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Given the current economic headwinds, in what ways will your industry adapt to changing conditions in 2020?
Again, I assume industry here means prop-tech or fintech and both need the same response to changing conditions in 2020. In short, “winter is coming” and everyone should hunker down, preserve cash and shift into survival mode. Most are writing the year off in terms of growth and this is fine because many can’t even survive, let alone grow.
How will the typical customer profile need to change in 2020, in your business?
Our target customer segment and existing customers are one and the same: the young educated tech-savvy h.e.n.r.y. (high earning, not rich yet). Our customer profile does not need to change because our value proposition grows stronger in the downturn, for two reasons.
The first is that our platform allows customers to invest in real estate with an amount that fits their financial situation without taking out a large loan with a very high mortgage rate.
The second reason is that other asset classes, those few investment options available to our customers, such as stock, mutual funds, crypto, gold, small businesses, etc… have crashed. Even the banks’ interest rates have dropped. So all of a sudden, real estate looks very safe and has long-term potential for healthy returns.
General economic outlook in your sector for 2020 onwards: positive, cautiously positive or negative? What sort of bounce will your industry see after the pandemic passes?
The general outlook for 2020 onwards is positive assuming this pandemic is under control within this year, which many experts believe is likely. Any bounce would be gradual instead of quick. When it comes to investor sentiment, it does not change overnight. It takes time for people to feel safe and optimistic again. As mentioned above, the “flight to safety” mentality will drive a lot of customers to real estate investments and to our platform.
Across the board, what sort of businesses and leaders do you expect to emerge from this crisis?
The sort that can be characterized as lean, adaptive and radically realistic. Business models that are lean, with good unit economics, instead of those needing massive scale and capital to reach profitability.
Leaders who have the mindset and culture of “achieving more with less”. Leaders who are adaptive and businesses that are nimble enough to adapt will survive. Finally, leaders who are radically realistic, who can see reality unclouded by fear or wishful thinking will also make the right decisions and ultimately survive and thrive.