started an application with 4 million users in 101 countries, successfully raised $ 12 million capital, but few people know that CEO Elsa speak has never thought of starting a business.
And failed at the summer internship due to being extravagant.
Van Dinh Hong Vu – CEO Elsa speak was the first Asian to hold the position of Assistant General Manager of Maersk. Afterwards, Van Dinh Hong Vu was the senior project manager for Booz and Company. However, CEO Elsa speak decided to give up the job that many people dreamed of to come up with a challenging career path.
In 2016, Van Dinh Hong Vu launched Elsa speak application – a free English speaking practice application. Up to now, this startup has received a total investment of 12 million USD from famous investment funds in the world. The application currently has 4 million users in 101 countries. At the same time, the Elsa speak application also ranked in the top 5 leading AI applications in the world.
I thought I would never start a business
Currently, Van Dinh Hong Vu has successfully started a business, but few know that this CEO had previously thought he would never start a business.
The CEO shared at the event: ” Before starting a business, the story of starting a business with me was very far. Because I just thought that I graduated and found a job then slowly promoted, it was also successful. Because if starting a business, I will not know where to start and what is starting a business? ”
Even while studying at Stanford near Silicon Valley – the cradle of entrepreneurship, Van Dinh Hong Vu surrounded many startup friends but this CEO never once thought of starting a business.
CEO Elsa speak shared that, one of the reasons why she did not think of starting a business because from a practical perspective, the startup journey is very long, very arduous; Even if there is success, it is a great challenge.
CEO Elsa speak confided, she studied at university in Vietnam and foreign language is one of the tools to help her achieve a big dream. But when starting to come to America, Van Dinh Hong Vu realized that foreign language was a barrier that made her lose confidence even though she read very well, written very well, but when she spoke English, no one understand. And she believes that it is not only difficult for herself but also for many other students.
” People spend a lot of money to learn English but they can’t use it. I look around, no one has solved this problem. And this is one of the increasingly important issues so I decided. starting a business that way is lonely and easy to fail . ”
After all, Van Dinh Hong Vu still chooses to pursue a career path, saying that starting a business is to realize her dreams and concerns that can solve the problem of speaking English like a native for many people. At the same time, she realized that the problem she wanted to solve had not been done and this was one of the great opportunities.
The story of the first failure at Stanford University
CEO Elsa speak shared that the first days of her studies at Stanford were the days when she had her first setbacks due to overconfidence. During her previous studies, this CEO always got good grades, so she always believed that she could be accepted to work anywhere.
” I always think my grades are high so companies will need me more than I need them. And I’ve never thought that I won’t be accepted by companies ,” said CEO Elsa speak.
But everything that happened was unlike what CEO Elsa speak had believed, when she had a summer internship at Stanford for her first year. Although she has spread profiles in many companies, this CEO has not been accepted by any company, they did not even invite her to interview.
” Because I was so confident in myself, I always considered myself in the sky and actually threw myself a cold water. That failure came from being extravagant, I thought I was better than everyone. Therefore, he could not identify his strengths and weaknesses, “Van Dinh Hong Vu said.
With this first failure, this CEO advised young startups to know who they are? What do you have, what are your strengths so that you can have the most specific development direction right from the start. At the same time, she wants to remind young people that, no matter how good you are, start from the “ground” and start from what you have.
Do not start with the solution, but start from the “pain” of the user
CEO Elsa speak said that when starting a business, startups often start from the solutions they think of to solve a problem.
” When I thought of a solution and I thought I had good technology and so on came up with products. I thought that consumers found them good, they had to use it .”
But after all the failures and successes, the female CEO gives advice to startups to start a business when they understand the pain of users and then find a solution.
If you understand the pain of users, you will find many solutions to solve that problem. At that time, you can try many solutions, check each solution until you find the most effective solution. To quickly, if trying one solution does not turn to another solution immediately to avoid losing opportunity costs.