Representative in the interview (Online interview):
Mr. Tran Thanh Tung - Loli&The Wolf CEO
SME MENTORING provides innovative startup mentoring service in 12 months. Tung has been fortunate to have them accompanied since 2013-2014 until now. During the whole process, I have been accompanied by seniors who know everything related to business administration, financial accounting, and marketing. They help me overcome my mistakes.
In the program, there are also many mentors working in many industries. So every time I have a problem, I go to those mentors to help me with my business.
Tung also has a lot of business experience and knowledge, but I need mentors with practical experience. SME Mentoring helps with this in a constructive manner. Whenever I have problems, even one session with mentors can help me solve them.
Case 1: Last March, I had a financial problem. My strengths are firstly, the human resources system, and secondly, marketing. My fiance was poorly managed which led to a loss of 1.6 billion VND without knowing the cause. Then I met a mentor in the community, she helped review the financial statements. In just 15 minutes, she could point out the errors. In the last 15 minutes of the meeting, she gave me the solutions. Since then, my business has been stable, making a profit of 35-40%/month which enabled me to cut losses and invest into profitable ones. All these thanks to one hour of mentoring.
Case 2: There was a time when I wanted to do franchising for a cafe that sells Loli&TheWolf products. Tung wanted to open a chain because the profit from it was 15%/month. Opening the chain meant more money. When I was not sure if I should do it or not, I met 2 mentors: Phan Dinh Tuan Anh and Mr. Liem - founder of Lee & Tee . They asked me very critical questions about the need and the purpose. After that, I found that I couldn't meet the criteria, so I didn't open it.
BSSC: Business Startup Support Centre under the City People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City
Tung has known BSSC since 2013 and participated in a number of youth start-up activities to know the keys to start-up and entrepreneurial orientation. In 2015, I got into the top teams of Startup Wheel and won the most creative idea award. Through the competition, I refined the business system, appeared on more than 200 newspapers and TV channels, approached many investors, and was mentored by many entrepreneurs.
BSSC provides many mentors. The financial aid of 500 million VND, with an interest rate of 0.8%/year is a good launch to scale up my business. In addition, the leaders of BSSC are also very nice. So when Tung needs any support, advice, or needs connecting to a business partner or agency, BSSC is ready to support and help connect with that unit, which gives me a big advantage.
SME Mentoring focuses on understanding Tung's business, providing in-depth support to make business decisions. Meanwhile, BSSC supports turning those business decisions into results and sustainable development. These are my two main companions in the past period. SME Mentoring provides only one service, which is mentoring. This is a companion who works hard to understand deeply about mentees' business and the mentees themselves. They accompany me in the decision-making process, orienting the company and reducing risk as much as possible and BSSC does the rest.
How did the community support you?
The nature of my community is the gender ecosystem. This is a product and service that we create for free for young people in Vietnam. Our work ensures a continuous process of consulting, providing information, providing sex education information daily, securing KPI up to 200-300 million reach per month.
We also support many other businesses and young people who start their own. From time to time, we support the businesses about sex education. Loli simply provides the information that they need.
The most difficult thing is my business is the only one in the ecosystem working on this field while the other co-founders are strategy and product experts or pharmacists and doctors. Once entering this road, you can't go back. Therefore, it is very difficult for an experienced and well-known business person to enter this path.
That's why I have to do my job well. With SME mentoring, I have to actively contact them to do the exercises, thank them and maintain a relationship with them. To maintain your role and keep a companion, you must do your part.
It’s the same for BSSC. I am very grateful to BSSC. So if BSSC needs anything, I will be there to support the training. In the past, I was well trained, now I go back to train other young people. I always try to have a win-win relationship with my companion even though I am the main beneficiary. As a beneficiary, you must try your best so that you can do your role well, and convince support units that they are already supporting the right people. I like the term “companion” - it has to come from both sides. If you do not know how to accompany, the relationship will be broken in the process.