#27 - Tech Entrepreneurship Venture from Israel to Vietnam - Doron Shachar

 

 

“I truly believe that what set the superstars or people who are very successful is the ability to tell to themselves to quit. Winners quit fast and quit without guilt."

Doron Shachar is an Israeli entrepreneur living in Vietnam over the past 12 years and the founder & CEO of Renova Cloud, an AWS and GCP Consulting Partner in Vietnam. In this episode, we looked at the essence of Israeli entrepreneurship as we first learned about Doron’s childhood & education in Israel and how he built valuable leadership skills throughout his years in the scouts and the army. As we unpacked the Israeli’s approach of problem-solving, risk-taking and overcoming failure, Doron then shared how he ventured into Southeast Asia and ended up staying in Vietnam. We discussed how Vietnam is evolving in terms of technology trends and adoption, including how Vietnamese businesses are adopting cloud as part of their digital transformation. Doron also shared some tips on how entrepreneurs should prepare for a successful venture into Southeast Asia.  

Listen out for:

  • Career Journey - [00:05:13]
  • Entrepreneurship in Israel - [00:09:58]
  • Entrepreneurship Advice - [00:16:31]
  • Venturing to Vietnam - [00:19:25]
  • Vietnam Among Other SEA Countries - [00:27:15]
  • Vietnam Differentiators - [00:29:52]
  • Cloud Adoption in Vietnam - [00:33:23]
  • Advice to Succeed in Vietnam - [00:38:23]
  • Upcoming Trends in Vietnam - [00:41:20]
  • 3 Tech Lead Wisdom - [00:45:04]

_____

Doron Shachar’s Bio
Doron Shachar founded Jetview Southeast Asia in 2007 to join the fast growth and development of the Vietnamese mobile and telecom market. Under his leadership, Jetview has become a recognized agency and representative for new services and innovative technologies in the emerging Vietnamese market. In 2017, he founded Renova Cloud, an AWS and Google Cloud Consulting Partner with a highly integrated team of skilled engineers, architect and DevOps, providing services towards transition of the legacy workloads to frontline technologies in Cloud, DevOps and Automation. Doron earned a chemical engineering degree from Shenkar University in Israel and an MBA from Boston University in the US. In addition to being an active volunteer for human rights & quality government in Israel, he is also a passionate runner, swimmer, and fan of rock music history.

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Quotes

Career Journey

  • First, the most important thing is to be well-prepared. We used to say it in Hebrew and I translated it to English, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. And this is something that is very important. The time spent in preparation is never wasted. Practice is a huge part of your preparation and prepare physically to be enough to give yourself the best chance of success.

  • The other thing that Baden-Powell gave to the scout all over the world is to be trustworthy. And this is something which is key to good friendship. And I truly believe in good friendship and good business relationship.

  • Words and power are very meaningful. And people come to know us by the words we speak. Stick to the truth and never betray your confidence in people.

  • The last thing that I truly believe that the scout gives to me is to be loyal. Loyalty is something that I really prize because it gives a lot of strengths. It gives you a spirit up.

Entrepreneurship in Israel

  • All of those entrepreneurs that we see, they fell several times before they made it. But they move quick and they’re quite fast and they learn how to quit and they decide to move forward. It’s about the way how winners quit fast, how winners quit often and quit without guilt.

  • The dip is the period that you are down, that you are very much struggling. Every new hobby, every new project, every new job, it starts with a lot of fun. Because our mind gives us a lot of fun and then it’s gets really hard, and it’s not much fun at all. So, you might be in a dip and then get back and get better if you keep pushing. But maybe it’s really a dead end.

  • I truly believe that what really set the superstars or people who are very successful is the ability to tell to themselves to quit. I need to quit here. And winners seek out the dip. The bigger the barrier, the bigger the reward you get later. And winners do quit, quitters do win.

  • There is nothing wrong to stop your project and say, I’m in the wrong direction. I’m in the wrong way.

  • You learn that if you don’t find yourself, you stop and you go back to the destination, to the point that you know where you are. And this is something very basic when you navigate.

  • The same in business. You already built something. And now you don’t find a way. You see that there is no result and you tell yourself stories. We are as a human being, as a business people, we are telling ourselves stories. So, we are telling ourselves, this is the mountain here. We are about to reach it. But no, you’re not in the right direction. This is not the right mountain.

  • You have to go back where you’re sure that this is the right way. Go back and start over. And this is a tough decision for any entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurship Advice

  • First, ask yourself question. Am I doing the right thing? Am I focusing on the right way? And get feedback, not from a friend and not from your employees, they won’t tell you the truth. And also, don’t get feedback from your family. They love you too much. Find a mentor and surround yourself with people with more experience than you are. This is a key. When I’m talking about mentor, find someone that on one hand is not too close to you. On the other end, he likes you. There is something good going on between both of you, but you’re not too close. He is the one that can say to you: What are you doing? Why are you going there? Why are you getting into this? And you have to understand to get this criticism and not take it personally.

  • If you do it for money, you will fail. Do it because you’re driven. Do it because you want to do something different. Do it because you have a strong passion for it. You love it. You enjoy it. You want to study more. You are curious about it. You’re curious about this industry. You think that you can do better than others. You think that you can build something different and better.

Venturing to Vietnam

  • I don’t think that the best salesperson are the ones who are always in your face. Always pushing the order and always asking for you to do something for them. I think that selling is about the transparency of emotion. By the end of the day, it is all about emotion and the connection to the people.

  • In today’s environment, customers are having endless options. They want to feel emotionally connected to you. It’s transference of emotions. And this is something that you need to build and it takes time and it takes trust.

  • You cannot be in Asia and doing any activities without a long run vision.

Advice to Succeed in Vietnam

  • This is the biggest Golden rule that I would like to say to everyone who come in Asia. Observe and be humble. You need to be trusted emotionally.

3 Tech Lead Wisdom

  1. Surround yourself with great people. Always surround yourself with the people that make you feel good.

    • That you wake up in the morning and you don’t feel ache in your stomach. And if you feel that ache in your stomach, you are in the wrong place. Change it.

    • Surround yourself with people that you can learn and you can get something from them.

  2. It’s meant to be hard. Hard is what make it great.

    • You feel hard. You feel difficult, but you still enjoy. You’re still saying this is what I want to do. You are in the right direction.
  3. Do it because you are driven, always. Take full responsibility of what you’re doing and take things under you.

    • Don’t be afraid to raise your voice and say what you think.

    • Be authentic. Say what you think. Say what is in your mind.

Transcript

Episode Introduction [00:00:45]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:00:45] Hey everyone. This is Henry Suryawirawan. Welcome back to another new episode of the Tech Lead Journal podcast. Thanks for tuning in and spending your time with me today listening to this episode. If you haven’t subscribed to the podcast, make sure to spend a few seconds right now to click on the subscribe button on your favorite podcast apps, such as Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Google Podcasts, and get notified for the upcoming new episodes. You can also follow Tech Lead Journal on YouTube, where you can access the same audio content with additional playlists of short clips from each episode covering the interesting section of the conversation and each of the guest’s 3 Tech Lead Wisdom. Also do checkout and follow Tech Lead Journal social media channels on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram, where you can find me frequently posting interesting quotes from each episode, and if you find any of them resonating with you, I hope you can also help me to share them with your colleagues and friends. And together, I hope we can continuously increase our level of technical leadership and excellence. And for any of you who would like to support me and make some contribution to the production of this show, please consider joining as a patron by signing up at techleadjournal.dev/patron. I highly appreciate any kind of support from all of you, and your contribution would definitely help me towards sustainably producing each episode every week.

For today’s episode, I am happy to share my conversation with Doron Shachar. Doron is an Israeli entrepreneur who has been living in Vietnam for over the past 12 years. And he’s the founder and CEO of Renova Cloud, a cloud consulting partner in Vietnam. In this episode, Doron shared with me the essence of Israeli entrepreneurship, how he learned valuable leadership skills from young age throughout his years in the scouts and the army. Doron shared with me the admirable Israelis approach to problem solving, risk-taking and overcoming failure that sets Israel highly apart in terms of startups and entrepreneurship. Doron then shared with me how he started venturing into Southeast Asia and ended up staying in Vietnam for the past 12 years. We then discussed how Vietnam is evolving in terms of technology trends and adoption, including how Vietnamese businesses are adopting cloud as part of their digital transformation. Doron also shared some valuable tips on how entrepreneurs should prepare for a successful venture into Southeast Asia.

I hope that you will enjoy this great episode. Please consider helping the show in the smallest possible way, by leaving me a rating and review on Apple Podcasts and other podcast apps that allow you to do so. Those ratings and reviews are one of the best ways to get this podcast to reach more listeners, and hopefully the show gets featured on the podcast platform. I’m also looking forward to hearing any comments and feedback on the social media, or you can also directly send to me at techleadjournal.dev/feedback. So let’s get the episode started right after our sponsor message.

Introduction [00:04:29]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:04:29] Hello, everyone. Welcome back to another show of the Tech Lead Journal. So today, I have a guest from around the region. I met him through my networks. His name is Doron Shachar He’s actually an Israeli, who interestingly has been spending a lot of years in Vietnam. So I hope today we have a good interesting conversation where we can learn a lot from Doron. Especially related to bridging from his Israeli background, and what he brought to Vietnam, and what he learned from his time in Asia so far, especially in the technology landscape. So welcome to the show, Doron.

Doron Shachar: [00:05:05] Hi, you’re welcome. Very, very good to be here and very, very happy to talk to you. And for me, it’s a great pleasure to share together and open this conversation.

Career Journey [00:05:13]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:05:13] So Doron, maybe for a start, can you tell us more about yourself? Maybe highlighting your career journey and some major turning points in your life.

Doron Shachar: [00:05:21] Sure. I was born in Israel and I grew up as a kid in the 70s. When Israel was kind of a relatively small country. We’re talking about a population at that time of 3 million. Everything was under building and constructions. Everything around us was trees and those kind of orange trees. And at that time, orange was the main products that Israel exported to the world. That time, Israel was only a country that like 30 years old. And for us as a small kid, it looked like very normal, but we didn’t understand really what’s going on around us. My father was a teacher. He escaped from the Holocaust when he was something like nine years old with his other brother. They escaped from Poland. My mom, she was born in Israel. But their parents were immigrant and ran out from the Holocaust from Yugoslavia, near the border of Greece, just before the World War II. And they established the family in Jerusalem, big family with six brother and two sisters.

So memories, the big memories for me from my childhood, from my youth was the scouts. When you are in a high school, you just go to the high school and study. But the scout is the anchor of your activities, is the anchor of everything. And I don’t know if you know about the scout, but the scout has a great life value as part of their heritage. It provides a very amazing guidelines for young people to hand over to live well. So the value of scout was written by Lord Baden-Powell when scouting was founded over 100 years ago. But still remain very much relevant to empowering for us today as they were then. By the way, my best friend until today, the people that I am most trustful, the people that are most loyal to are my friends from the scouts. These are the people that know me from that time. They remember me from that time. Of course, each one of us took a different career and path in his life. But these are the people that are most trustful. And when we meet each other, we immediately know each other and we know the character. So nothing has been changed, even the word. So what the scout given to you as a child at that time in Israel, in a very small rebuilding country. First of all, the most important thing is be well-prepared. We used to say it in Hebrew and I translated it to English, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. And this is something that is very important. The time spent in preparation is never wasted. Practice is a huge part of your preparation and prepare physically to be enough to give yourself the best chance of success.

That time, we always look over the growing youth, that people that are older than us in few years. And we admire them when they came back from the army. We admire them and the unit that they’ve been, and we learn a lot from them. So in the scout, you prepare mentally. You are very young kids. Think about this, you’re 16, 17 years old youth. At that time, we felt very mature. We lead other kids. You learn leadership at that time. No phones, no communication, no nothing. And the parents gave their kids to us. We used to take them for three weeks. We used to prepare before to the trips. And we used to practice a lot of things with them. Everything was somewhere around the army and that. But it’s a very much atmosphere and humor and a thing that keeps with you whole of the life.

The other thing that Baden-Powell give to the scout all over the world is be trustworthy. And this is something which is key to good friendship. And I truly believe in good friendship and good business relationship. By the end of the day, when you have a good friendship with people and you can talk with people, you can share, and they believe in you and they think that you are a trustworthy person. It doesn’t matter if they decided to do business with you or they haven’t decided, it’s fine. You keep your integrity. Words and power are very meaningful. And people come to know us by the words we speak. Stick the truth and never betray your confidence around people. So this is something that I truly believe. And we say today, how much word is truly important.

And the last thing that I truly believe that the scout give to me is to be loyal. Loyalty is something that I really prized because it takes strength. It gives a lot of strengths. It gives you a spirit up. So it’s come back to the thing that life is about relationship. When I tell it to my kids all the time, build a relationship and it’s driven when we show loyalty.

Entrepreneurship in Israel [00:09:58]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:09:58] So what I know about Israeli, of course, we all know that Israel has one of the largest startup ecosystems. Like people there seems to be more about entrepreneurship, taking risks or building something that hasn’t been done before. And there are a lot of SMEs there as well. Listening to your story about scout, is it something related? Like you were trained from the kids to be more independent. You know, like what you said, you take care about yourself, take care about other kids, be independent, be more prepared. Was it the reason because of that, the entrepreneurship is very, very booming in Israeli?

Doron Shachar: [00:10:32] Yes. It is connected. But I think it’s also connected to the path of the youth in Israel. It’s also pretty much connected later on to the army. The army in Israel took the role because it’s the nation army. Everybody has to go to the army. In many cases, the army save a lot of people or a lot of kids that don’t know what they want from the life. Even I’m not talking only about the kids that are living in a wealthy family, in a good family that push them and give them the whole platform to be successful later on and to provide them. There are many kids in Israel, many families in Israel, and in my time, we were all equal. In my neighborhood, everybody has the same car, if they have a car. And everybody used to live in the same house. And if somebody got a TV in his home, everybody knows and come to see and watch the TV and watch the new show and what is it? I still remember the big success of one of our neighbors that he got a color TV and everybody come to see what it looked like.

The army build an amazing ecosystem to take the people, to take the youth, and bring them up even if they are lost. And this is the beautiful thing of the army. And you can see it all over. It bring them into a discipline. It bring them into a way to learn and courage, bring them into a way to be persistent and practice and believe in themselves. Yes, of course there are elite unit in the army, definitely. And those guys, when they do their military service and they come back outside, whatever which kind of unit they are, they can be in a very high level, intelligent unit or in a cyber or in engineering and everything. Of course they have advantage and they take what they got in the spirit inside, and they take it out to the civil world, to the civil society, into the business world. And it’s easy for them even to raise money if they have an idea because there is a huge ecosystem of VC. So coming back to your question, it’s not only about the country and the people. It’s total overall ecosystem, which is related to the money. It’s related to the army. It’s related to the mentality. What is surrounding around you and the people around you.

The competition is a part in our blood. We don’t afraid of Ironman himself. Of course we are aware of the competition. We are aware of others. We are aware of what’s going on and we are trying to go for a niche. The word afraid is not something that is coming into my mind. I never use it. You know how to concentrate your fear and how to behave together with it. And you see it a lot in Israel and don’t get me wrong. All of those entrepreneurs that you see them, they fell several times before they made it. But they move quick and they quit fast and they learn how to quit and they decide to move forward. I don’t know if you heard about it. There is a very good book of Seth Godin. It’s called “The Dip”. It’s a little book, but it’s a beautiful book. And it’s all talking about the way how Winners quit fast. How winner quit often and quit without guilt. So why did they commit to beaten the dip? So what is the dip? The dip is the period that you are down, that you are very much struggling. Every new hobby, every new project, every new job, it started with a lot of fun. Because our mind give us a lot of fun and then it’s get really, really hard, and it’s not much fun at all. So you might be in a dip in this and then get back to this and get better if you keep pushing. But maybe it’s really a dead end. Maybe it’s really a total dead end. And you need to ask yourself all the time, this kind of question. I truly believe that what really set the superstar or people who are very successful is the ability to tell to themselves to quit. I need to quit here. And winners seek out the dip. The bigger the barrier, the bigger the reward you get later. And Winners do quit, quitters do win.

So for my point of view, there is nothing to stop your project and said, I’m in the wrong direction. I’m in the wrong way. And this is something that I was learned in the army and in my time in my unit, we used to navigate alone. So what is the way of navigation alone? So you study or your commander give you a path. And it gives you like tonight we’re going to go 15 or 20 kilometer. You going to go by yourself. He give you the map and you studied and you prepare for it. Then you are going with a lot of weight and heavy stuff on you. In your first point, and you need to collect over your path several points. Of course, you are not allowed to open your map. You don’t have any communication and you need to find yourself the way. So you have to be around yourself. And it doesn’t matter. It’s rain, it’s heavy rain, it’s mud. You’re going to make it. And this is something that you learn. You learn that if you don’t find yourself, you stop and you go back to the destination, to the point that you know where you are. And this is something very, very basic when you navigate. It’s very, very difficult story to do because in many cases, you did already few hours, you already did a few hours of working. The same in business. You already built something. And now you don’t find a way. You see that there is no result and you tell yourself stories. We are as a human being, as a business people, we are telling ourselves stories. So we are telling ourselves, this is the mountain here. We are about to get it. But no, you’re not in the right direction. This is not the right mountain. You have to go back where you’re sure that this is the right way. Go back and start over. And this is a tough decision for any entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurship Advice [00:16:31]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:16:31] Thanks for sharing that. I think it’s a very good insight. So the way I see it, a lot of times, especially from Asian point of view, right? We are not well trained in this kind of mindset or thought process. Trying to fail fast, so to speak, and also to navigate ourselves. Knowing that actually we are going to the right path, or if not, we should go back and probably rebuild. So this is probably something that we are not well-trained enough since childhood. So what will be your advice to, the budding entrepreneurs? The people within this region who are looking more towards entrepreneurship, becoming successful. Comparing with your background from Israeli.

Doron Shachar: [00:17:08] Well, I would say there are several guidelines, especially Asian, which is in many part is against your DNA. It’s something that against that conflict with what your parents has been teaching to you. Although today many things change. Parents in Asia has been changed dramatically from before. But I see it in Vietnam. You see it on a daily, daily life. The way couples take care of their kids. They don’t let them fail. They don’t let them go around. So, I would say a few things that I truly believe is first of all, ask yourself question. Am I doing the right thing? Am I focusing on the right way? And get feedback, not from a friend and not from your employees, they won’t tell you the truth. And also don’t get feedback from your family. They love you too much. Find a mentor and surround yourself with people with more experience than you are. This is a key. When I’m talking about mentor, find someone that on one hand is not too close to you. On the other end, he liked you. There is something good going on between you and him, but you’re not too close. He is the one that can say to you, what are you doing? Why are you going there? Why are you getting into this? And you have to understand to get this criticism and not take it personally. When people here in Asia, saying to me they criticize me, I love that. There are not too many, unfortunately. This is something in an Israeli culture, by the way when we are talking to each other, especially now, and I’m sure in talking with a different entrepreneurship, it needs different kind of level. We go straight to the point and we say directly it’s not the right direction. You are doing wrong or this is not for us. This is not the right thing.

The other thing that I truly believe is if you do it for money, you will fail. Do it because you’re driven. Do it because you want to do something different. Do it because you have a strong passion for it. You love it. You enjoy it. You want to study more. You are curious about it. You’re curious about this industry. You think that you can do better than others. You think that you can build something different and better. So these are the main ideas that I have for the people.

Venturing to Vietnam [00:19:25]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:19:25] Thanks for sharing that perspective. So you mentioned you have stayed in Vietnam for I don’t know, 12, 15 years that kind of a long time. So what brought you to this part of the world?

Doron Shachar: [00:19:36] Well, along my career, I was working in several startups in Israel. By the way, each one of them, I used to work at least four years, four to five years, I love to join startup when they’re just in the beginning. We’re talking about late nineties, early 2000. It was a blooming environment in Israel. So many entrepreneurs. So many new companies and new ideas came in, and I joined several of them. I want to tell you something. I took very, very great lesson from my first job. I was studying chemical engineering, which is far away from computing. Then I studied in the US. I did my MBA in the US in Boston university. During my study because I didn’t come from a rich family and everything, I had to work. So I was working in a different kind of job that gave me the flexibility to study at the same time.

I remember several highlights. So the first job that I got, the first serious job, well, I’ve been working all the time in a different kind of organization, in a semi-government and government organization after I ended up in the army when I was a student. When I got to the real commercial, I would join the company. They’re selling masterbatch for plastic industry. What is Masterbatch? In two words, those are the concentrate colors that are coming in every product that you are seeing today, all over the world. That company was a very local Israeli company, running by a family, two brother. Very entrepreneurial, very sharp guys. They’re huge all over the world, by the way. They have manufacturing all over Asia. At that time, one of the brother, he was my mentor. He took me and immediately see that I am not a guy that can stay in the laboratory. Even though I was engineering and he understand that I can be in a good communication with client and I might be a sales guy. And he started to take me to his meetings. So the first thing that I learned from him and this is something that I would never forget. Before he met the customer, he used to go to the backyard of the manufacturing. I mean, to the storage area. So, at the beginning, I was asking why you are going here? We start our meeting with the customer. We set it to 9:00 AM or 08:45. At 08:15, he was at the backyard, in the storage of the customer. The customer, whatever it is, can be the CEO, it can be the procurement manager. He don’t know that we are already in his storage. And why? Because at that time, he was talking with the people behind. And he was looking around. And he will see what they are buying? Who is the competitor? What the competition sell them? And he looked around, and he become a friend of the guy that managed the storage. So, when he come, he was really well prepared for the meeting. So the CEO tell us story. " Yeah. We are only buying from you. We are only using this. We are not using this. We are not using that material." He was kept quiet. By the end of the conversation, he said to him, “I would love it if you can buy it from us. We’re going to provide you this for trial.” He know what he want to achieve. But an amazingly relationship with the customer.

And I truly believe that I don’t think that the best salesperson are the ones who are always in your face. Always pushing the order and always asking for you to do something for them. I don’t think so. I think that selling is about the transparency of emotion. Later on when I was in the high-tech and I was selling to a big organization, by the end of the day is all about emotion and the connection to the people. And people need to learn, it’s not about the presentation of facts. Yes. It probably help you if you have something to sell, and if you have a good product, then you have a good offering. In today’s environment, customer are having endless options. We know it from the cloud environment that we are sending services. And we know it from the SaaS and we know it for the software. And they want to feel emotionally connected to you. It’s transference of emotions. And this is something that you need to build and it takes time and it takes trust.

Coming back in Asia, this is critical for your relationship build in a customer and you need to come here for the long run. You cannot be in Asia and doing any activities without a long run vision. So when I came to Asia in 2015, I was living in Hong Kong for several years. I was managing Israeli very successful company at that time in the telecom business. We start to go and offering our solutions and the services to Southeast Asia. So going back to 2007, 2006. At that time, the telcos in Southeast Asia, Vietnam, and the countries around was just in the beginning. We tender and we show them a new services, and I know that they like it. But Asian don’t buy anything from anybody if they don’t feel the trust, if you don’t build a trust. And now we’re starting to build the trust. It took us two and a half years, three years, to build the trust with the telcos. And we did it one by one. We did it with all the telcos in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia and Malaysia. In Vietnam, I personally build a trust and then decided to move and build my own company. I saw the potential at that time. So this is what brought me here. But I know I need to be there. I have to be close to them. I have to be trustful with them. You don’t push. You are waiting most of the time. And you follow the flow and you are waiting for the calls. And sometimes it take month until the customer call you and said, “You come, I would like to meet you. There is something that I would like to talk to you about.” And this is the way it worked. I built such a foundation that even 12 years later, which is today, I still have the same customer. They are still the same people I’m working with. They’re still the same people that are using our services. They are still the same people that are calling me and asking me, “Doron, we have a need for this and this solution. What do you think? Do you think there is any Israeli company that can help us? We are working with this and this company.” And in many cases, I said to them, “No, don’t do that. Continue with what you have.” And they’re very appreciated. Build a trustworthy relationship take a lot of time. And this is something that everybody that come to Asia need to understand. You need to build a very strong foundation.

Little bit about Vietnam. Vietnam has been tremendously changed. It’s a totally different country from what it was 10 and 15 years ago. There is nothing to compare. Either social, either business wise, either the way that Vietnamese seeing themselves. The way they are confidence about the business. I truly admire what they have been done here. I know that they have the passion. I know that they can get far. I couldn’t believe they can get that far. When I see what’s going on now in Vietnam in whole aspect. When you see it in every industry, they thrive to innovation. Thrive to win the race here in Asia and they can do it. They can do it big time. In my company today, there are 25 people and I see the young generation. I see the way they jump and the way they study new thing. This is unbelievable for me. The way they get into a new subject, and you give them the right KPIs. And they are in. They are totally devoted. You see the passion here. So this is a little bit about Vietnam.

Vietnam Among Other SEA Countries [00:27:15]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:27:15] How do you see Vietnam in terms of, when you see other countries in this Southeast Asian region? So the Singapore, the Malaysia, the Indonesia. Those more advanced in terms of startups, economic things, and business and things like that. How do you see Vietnam comparing to these Southeast Asian neighbors? Especially in terms of technology and innovation.

Doron Shachar: [00:27:34] Yes. It’s a good question. I know that the Indonesia is a really amazing environment at the moment. All Southeast Asia is booming dramatically. There are few things that a little bit differentiate Vietnam from the others. First of all, and above all, they want to build everything by themselves. And this is much in somehow a reminder, China, they have the same mentality. They want to have their own ecosystem and they want to rely on their own engine and they want to rely on their own builder. On the other hand, I can see that they jump and they start. They fell, they come back. They change all the time. They are not, I would say, worry to change and adapt. And you see it in so many aspects of their life. You cannot neglect here because there are 98 million people. Around 14,000 new engineers every year coming to the market. There is a huge movement from the provincial cities, from the countryside to the big cities. All of these people are looking for jobs. Are looking for new challenges. And they want to build a career and they reading and they want to build a career. So, given the environment and understand that this is the engine. This is the force to the country to move on. They fully understand it. On the other hand, you have to understand 60% of the country is still in agriculture. And we have to remember that.

Yes, there was a lot of noise. There was a lot of hustle around the high-tech industry. There are already several successful unicorn here in Vietnam that are getting a major impact into the market. I just mentioned few of them, like wallet payment called Momo and Tiki, which is a huge e-commerce. There are quite a lot. And they’re all growing up in different direction. The people behind them, by the way, those entrepreneurs behind them, there are guys who are 30+ - 40s. This is a generation that grew up in the very difficult time of the Vietnam. They still remember a lot of things from the parents. They didn’t have food and how they have the family. And on the other hand, they know the age and they build it up by themselves. And they came in the right time and build the right enterpreneurship. And you see them all over. They are very impressed entrepreneur and there are more and more of them here.

Vietnam Differentiators [00:29:52]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:29:52] So, you mentioned two differentiators, right? Vietnamese tend to want to build things for themselves and they are adopting this fail fast mentality and come back to where they started and try to build things. So in terms of those young engineers coming to the market, what do you think are special about those youngsters? You mentioned before, like some of your employees learn very fast. But are there any other things that stood out in Vietnam?

Doron Shachar: [00:30:15] They definitely have their own culture. Their own way of working. They have their own way of thinking. As a manager, especially as a foreign manager, we need to adapt to that. We cannot convert it. We have to adopt it. For example, in term of culture, they stick together. They work together and they learn from each other. But at the same time, they are always influenced by each other. They are talking a lot. They’re sharing and they influenced by each other. If you see startups and new companies and everything, they fell because you can not keep the people. They can not keep the team. Of course you need money, but even though you have the money, you need to keep the spirit of the team. One of the biggest challenge for me as a foreigner is how I stick them together and keep them inside. They will feel that they are getting higher and higher and getting their career or getting their knowledge up. In Israel it’s totally different. We are very individual. If somebody leaves the company, it’s fine. We continue. We think about ourselves like individual person. In Vietnam, they don’t think like that. They see themselves as a group, as a team all the time, and you need to see how you keep it in. And this is something that I truly see very much different.

The other thing that you see in the younger generation of engineers, they’re very good in study new program. To take a course and pass it. In many cases, they don’t connect it to the real world. And this is something that you need to teach them. This is something that you need to comply to them. And it’s come later on to the way that they are very shy. They are very introvert. One of the things that we are all the time pushing our team is to talk on events. It’s to expose themselves. It’s to go to sit in front of customer. And we see the evolution of those engineers. Take them out of the comfort zone. They resist in the beginning. But at the time they started, they love it. They get a huge confidence in themselves. For me, I love to see the young guys, the younger Vietnamese that shift himself from a high school teenager. Today, they are the best presales. They talk. They have passion.

The last but not least, thing that I learn a lot as a leader is do more, talk less. They look at you. I always say to Samira, she is a marketing manager, and I say to our other team and the other management team, “They look at you. They see what you say. Your words having a lot of power. Talk less, do more.” You want to go to the customer, go to the customer. Don’t start to talk and give them lecture and everything. Take them. We are going now to see this in this customer. Let’s see what’s going on there. Because I believe there is something we need to solve over there. It come back to because they see that you take your legs, you go down together with them and you run to the client and you talk with them and it’s fine. And this is something that is very, very important.

Cloud Adoption in Vietnam [00:33:23]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:33:23] So Doron, I know one of your companies that you have in Vietnam is into the cloud space. And we all know like cloud, although it has been around for quite a number of years, it’s still early in terms of mass adoption for everybody. And I would like to understand in Vietnam, what is the adoption of cloud there? I mean, especially for the legacy companies. I’m not talking about the startups. Of course they embrace cloud since the beginning. But what about those legacies? Are people more aware and trying to move to the cloud? Or are they still assessing and trying to think what’s the next best thing?

Doron Shachar: [00:33:58] That’s a great question. This is hundreds of million question that even the big giants, with all their knowledge of the market here. You name it, Google, AWS, Microsoft, Oracle, IBM. They ask themselves the same question. It’s a very tricky question. In one hand, yes, they understand that they cannot neglect the market. And they cannot say, “Hey. Vietnam is not our market.” They see what’s going on around. They see what’s going on in the other country. Of course, they look at Singapore. They look at Indonesia. They look at a little bit of Philippines and Malaysia. I’m not talking about Japan, Korea. This is a billion US dollar market, already very advanced market. And this is tricky. Why? Because when you are going to those kinds of mid-level companies, which are mostly family- owned companies. And they are not small. I’m not talking about the top companies here in Vietnam. There are companies here in Vietnam. Of course they are on cloud. These are the top, I will say fifties. For example, Masan, a huge conglomerate here that producing food and everything related to food here. So they’re on cloud for the last seven years. Already hundred percent on cloud. I’m talking about other mid-level company.

When you’re talking with them on cloud. Yes. They understand. They understand what is it. They don’t yet see the benefits. They don’t yet understand what it’s going to give them. They don’t yet understand why I should move to the cloud. The way to start is always and must be very small. You cannot talk with those companies about digital strategy. It doesn’t work. You can talk with bank about digital strategy. They understand it. Banks are different. Financial companies here are different. You can talk with them about digital strategy. I’m talking about, let’s say, tens of thousands of companies here that are driven by families that are starting with 200-300 people going to several thousand people. You never heard about their name, but they’re controlling niche. They are controlling the market. They have a strong connection with whatever it needs. Either in the government, either in their industry. And you want to talk to them. So let’s take an example, the seafood industry in Vietnam. So the seafood industry is tremendously huge. There are hundreds of seafood processing company. What does this company doing? They are getting the fish, the whole seafood, and they are processing and packaging it and cleaning it. And those are giants, hundreds of them. You can’t talk about cloud. They don’t see the reason for them to move to cloud. You must come up to those guys and take a very specific issue that they have now and show them how you can solve it to them. They don’t care about digital transformation. This is the issue here in Vietnam at the moment.

So on one hand, you start with education. This is done. You need to build the trust. But for example, we are talking about cloud. So the basic of the thing that we are trying to do with those kinds of giant companies, we say to them, " Listen, guys. Let’s start with storage on the cloud. Storage your document." You are working on Excel files. If you see excel files of financial here in Vietnam, because there are hundreds of zeros. 24,000 Vietnamese Dong is the $1. So, think about trillions of dollars and you need to calculate it. You need to tell them, “Guys, let’s do something in storage. Let’s do something in your backup and data recovery. Have you ever think that you can lose your data?” And they said to you, “Yes, we store everything on this. We copied this to here. We copied this to that.” You need to step by step to explain them that it doesn’t work like this in a large organization. And this is something that you need to come up and you need to be prepared.

I truly believe that a tsunami of the cloud will come here. It might come in the coming two years. We are a company that prepare for that, several others. We truly believe that this is a big market. We build our domain expertise. We build a team. We are getting more and more involved with different kinds of projects. Trying to building the brand. But this is a journey of any company, any service company in the cloud.

Advice to Succeed in Vietnam [00:38:23]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:38:23] So, I noticed as well from your experience, having been staying in Vietnam for so long and starting companies, and I know there are a lot of foreigners as well, coming to Southeast Asia and trying to set up their companies. You must have gone through a lot of hurdles, challenges, and things like that. What will be some of the advices to these foreigners who come into Southeast Asia to start a business? And ensure that they go through success as well.

Doron Shachar: [00:38:46] Oh, well. Listen, one of the thing that is very, very important is observation. Here in Asia, you need to observe. You think that you know. Then you realize you know nothing. And you think that you understand your industry and then you realize, you know nothing. What’s going on? And why I’m saying that? Because of course, every country has its own culture along Southeast Asia. But you have to understand, Vietnam is a very much regulation country. What does it mean? Almost 80% of the industries are blocked to foreigners. That means that if you think that you discover something that the Vietnamese and you found out that there is only one or two Vietnamese company in this area, you should check it out much deeper and much careful. There’s not something like that. There is a reason behind it. There is a reason that the market, so probably there is a monopoly in the market. Probably there is a clear regulation. Probably those monopoly control in somehow by the government.

So, as a foreigner, observe and study deep before you bring. So what you found here? You find here many foreigners that they’re working with foreign companies and they bring them in somehow to Vietnam. Well, that’s fine. That’s another story. That’s another game. They are acting as a consulting. They are acting as an intermediate, as an agent, or as a reseller. It’s fine. It’s okay. Put that in a side. Then you take the whole other tens of thousand foreigners that coming here and open a small business. They open a restaurant. Some of them are very successful because they bring a concept. The other open a small warehouse. This is alright. However, if you’re coming in to build a big business and you want to really grow up here or establish it, you must learn the market very well.

This is the biggest Golden rule that I would like to say to everyone who come here. Observe and be humble. Be very, very humble. Don’t think that you know better. Don’t think that you know more. The Vietnamese know very well their market. And they are understand very, very much. Plus, they are very emotional driven. You need to be trusted by them emotionally. They need to like you on the emotional level. This is the only way for them to continue and to make business and even selling to you later on.

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:41:20] So what do you think are some of the upcoming industries, like technologically driven coming in Vietnam?

Doron Shachar: [00:41:27] I will look for different areas. I think that the supply chain, everything that related to logistics, there is still a long way to go here. I truly believe that this is an amazing area that the entrepreneur and the companies with a great solution can come to the market and build presence here. The big companies, I mean the major companies, everybody trying here to sell to the huge companies. Those companies are pretty much exposed for many years to the whole technology. You need to think about the rural area. You need to think about companies that you never heard about them and they are dominate their province area. So what I would suggest to every company is to try to get out of the comfort zone of Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, and go out to the other cities, plus the other areas, start there.

First of all, you can fail much cheaper over there. Second, you can understand the market and do your POC, do your proof of concept and everything over there. And this is the way I truly believed that an entrepreneur and new company need to look for. If you are going to drive today to the Mekong area, which is two - three hours drive from Ho Chi Minh, you will see an endless opportunities there. Endless opportunities to grow and to build business. Yes, you need to live there. Yes, you need to stay there. But those are the areas that you can bring your edge and can start with. Later on, of course, extend yourself to the other part of Vietnam.

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:43:01] Yep. So far from my experience working with a lot of Vietnamese, I actually have a lot of history working with Vietnamese. So a lot of them actually are well known for building remote development center in Vietnam. You got good talents with probably lower price compared to other countries around here. Especially countries from US, Europe, some of them might have remote development center in Vietnam. So what will be your view in terms of how Vietnamese should get out of this mindset of, “Okay. We are just good being a remote development center,” and start building something for their own. Maybe for their countries. Or trying to expand the entrepreneur successful in this area.

Doron Shachar: [00:43:38] They are. I truly believe that they are. You see the younger engineers, the first choice today is not to go to a outsourcing company anymore. It’s not their first choice. They want to be involved in new stuff. It’s still a big industry. You cannot neglect the outsourcing. But I see more and more entrepreneur, they grow up a little bit. They got some experience. They got some hands-on experience in those outsourcing company, which is important. But they want to move out of it. Yes, there are huge giant here, like FPT, CMC, and few others that are ruling the market outside. And they are doing a lot of projects outside and they’re still very successful.

You’re right. They don’t want to get into the same mindset. When you see between the Vietnamese, when they’re talking about somebody’s career and comparing between themselves, they’re saying immediately, Ah, he worked for this outsourcing company. Forget about him. We don’t want to work with somebody who worked for outsourcing company. We want somebody who builds something. In many cases, people that we interviewed, and the team rejected. They told me, “Doron, no. Don’t take. He worked too many years for outsourcing. His mindset is not the right one.” So they know what they’re saying. They don’t appreciate it anymore. They are truly aware of it. But you’re right. The world, it depends where they see Vietnam in a different perspective and depend where and what, which industry.

3 Tech Lead Wisdom [00:45:04]

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:45:04] So thank you so much for this pleasant conversation. I learned a lot about your background, Israeli stories, and also Vietnamese market in general. But before we end the conversation, normally I would ask the three technical leadership wisdom for you to share with the audience. Would you be able to share yours?

Doron Shachar: [00:45:20] Yes. First of all, I would say. Surround yourself with great people. Always surround yourself with the people that make you feel good. That you wake up in the morning and you don’t feel ache in your stomach. And if you feel that ache in your stomach, you are in the wrong place. Change it. And I wish I had this advice when I was younger. I always say this to my kids. I will say to everybody who’s around me, surround yourself with people that you can learn and you can get something from them.

The other leadership things that I want to say to everybody is it’s meant to be hard. Hard is what make it great. This is what I’m trying to say. You feel hard. You feel difficult, but you still enjoy. You still saying, this is what I want to do. You are in the right direction. You’re doing okay.

Do it because you are driven, always. Take full responsibility of what you’re doing and take things under you. And don’t be afraid to raise your voice and to say. This is not the way I see it. This is not the way I believe it. And it doesn’t matter if you are young, if you’re a junior, if you are more mature, if you are a senior. It doesn’t matter. Raise your voice and say what you think. By the end of the day, people will appreciate it. People understand that you are authentic. Be authentic. Say what you think. Say what is in your mind. Of course, in the polite way, in the right way. And these are the things that I truly believe that even technical guys need to study and know. I’m not talking about all of those kind of books for sales. The technical guys say what you think. Say immediately and raise your voice. It’s critical for your success.

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:47:00] Wow. Thanks for the insights. I mean, those I can relate as well, some of them. So Doron, for people who would like to follow you or find you online, is there a place?

Doron Shachar: [00:47:10] Everybody can talk to me. I always reply to everybody and I’m very accessible. So just connect me on LinkedIn. Feel free to connect me. And I would be happy to meet in person. I’ll be happy to talk with anyone in person. Especially from a country that I don’t know very well what’s going on there at the moment. Like Indonesia, I’ve been there. My last time in Indonesia was five years ago. And five years in Indonesia is a generation. So many things change. I really want to hear from people from all over Southeast Asia.

Henry Suryawirawan: [00:47:42] Thanks again for your time, Doron. I hope we can catch up one day in Vietnam maybe, or when you travel here. Thanks again, and good luck for your business in this new year.

Doron Shachar: [00:47:51] Thank you very much, Henry. And wish you all the best and you’re doing a great job.

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