Representative in the interview (Online interview):
Mr. Le Hoang Thach - CEO WeWe - Voiz
Photo credit: Vietnambiz
Wewe has 5 investors, including 2 funds and 3 individuals. Our first investor is a local fund – the PK fund who invested in us from the first steps. To a company like Voiz, the first steps are difficult because working with copyright in Vietnam can be very difficult due to the frequent illegal use. So it is very precious to have someone to believe in you.
They instilled a belief that I was not alone, and that they believed in me and would support me financially. After that, the 500 Startup Fund supported me through a program called Sao La. That program is an accelerator program, providing the foundation of business knowledge for startups. After participating, startups were supported by the program during the business operation training competition, and to connect with potential investors in the future. Vietnamese startups are spontaneous, there is yet a complete ecosystem, so they bring formal knowledge to the founding team.
Regarding 3 individual investors, each helps us with knowledge about strategy for copyrights, topics or data analysis. They help us analyze the market and use resources properly. Since they are individuals, on average, they spend about 2-3 hours a week with us to guide and help along the way. They are all companions.
Who owns the copyrights?
The team is supported and developed as it is now stems from having to do it right from the beginning. That's why investors invest in us. I want to thank Mr. Dat and Ms. Hanh, the two deputy directors of the Information and Communications Publishing House. This is a prestigious publishing house in the Vietnamese book community. When I went through the procedures, it was clear that I lacked many things and did not know many legal things. Mr. Dat and Ms. Hanh gave us a lot of help. I think they are the two most important people who accompanied us from the beginning.
Photo: WeWe - Voiz app
Users are also very supportive of us. In the past, when we first published Wewe's articles, we thanked our customers as companions. From the very beginning, when we said we wanted to make a copyrighted audiobook, people always said that we couldn’t do it and Vietnamese people wouldn’t pay. But it's thanks to everyone's companionship that we can still exist. Now the number of our books has reached more than 2000 copyrighted titles even though we only had a few dozen titles at the beginning. There are people who have stayed with us since our launch in September 2019 until now. From time to time they still send emails, comments which are so precious that I set up a meeting with them. They give me relevant and devoted suggestions to upgrade my strategy and products.
What are the biggest values you receive from companions?
Regarding angel investor PK, because they are an investment fund in Vietnam, they teach us many things such as unique business plans, and local spirit. This is a valuable thing. Vietnamese startups say that foreign investment funds are professional but can’t grasp the characteristics of the Vietnamese market. In addition, they also introduced us to many domestic partners. We not only have a relationship with the publisher, but also need other partners such as services related to distribution channels or music copyright which is an important ecosystem for us to develop products.
“For us, angel investors are like siblings. They treat us like brothers in the family, so they will help us if we lack anything. Their experience is valuable because they are successful in Vietnam and we are working in Vietnam as well.”
The 500 Startups Vietnam Fund applies professional methods similar to that of foreign countries. In their program, there are experts from all over the world. Because the program took place during the pandemic, they tried very hard to organize online with experts in Norway, USA, Spain. There were experts who had to work at 6AM. This shows a huge effort to ensure training for the startups they invest in. Not only do they put capital, but they have to make sure their startups are the best. All investors always let us be creative. The 500 Startups Fund gave us very professional lessons on how to operate the company, how to approach the problem of raising capital in the later rounds
Our individual investors are working in the education field, from kindergarten to universities. So I know how different knowledge and the need for knowledge acquisition is at each level. They also run technology-related education companies, so they help us know the strategy to have a vision. If something arises, or we need advice, just pick up the phone and ask what to do. They are always kind, friendly and ready to advise us.
Do we choose companions?
We are very fortunate to have chosen dedicated companions. For the time being, after a long time meeting with investors, we will choose who can create more value to the company. They themselves can have some business that can coordinate with the company. For example, if they do not understand what our industry is, do they hesitate to agree to invest? If they don't understand the industry, it's easy to ask questions like why is there a loss, why is the revenue low, why spend so much money to buy this, why spend on that. Instead of spending time creating and running the company, founders have to spend time explaining and convincing the investors which hinders the flexible and typical development of startups.