Saigonese GetSpaces Lets You Easily Find Where to Host Your Next Eventby Fintechnews Singapore February 23, 2016
Inspired by Airbnb’s success story – and > US$25 billion valuation -, a growing number of entrepreneurs around the world are applying the winning model to other types of services and markets.
MeetingsBooker, Zipcube, PivotDesk and ShareDesk, are just a few amongst the dozens of startups that are providing Airbnb-style marketplaces for short-term office space and conference hall rentals. Already, some of them have become quite successful.
MeetingsBooker, a startup based in Dublin, is arguably the largest venue-booking online platform in the world featuring over 70,000 meeting rooms and conference centers in 134 countries. Last year, it raised US€1 million in a funding round led by ACT Venture Capital to fuel growth and hire more staff.
While countries in Europe and North America have plenty of online services to choose from, Vietnam has remained an untapped opportunity – until now.
Meet GetSpaces. This young startup founded in October 2015, aims to save you the hassle of searching, booking and managing your event venues.
GetSpaces, a two-sided marketplace of venue owners and organizers, is currently under beta testing and already features around 200 spaces in Ho Chi Minh City you can choose from.
Fintechnews had the opportunity to catch up with GetSpaces’ founder Quynh Huong DUONG, to learn more about her venture, the story behind GetSpaces, and get her insights on Ho Chi Minh City’s startup scene.
Fintechnews: What is the story behind GetSpaces? What made you launch this particular venture?
Quynh Huong DUONG: As an event organizer myself, after three years of event-organizing experience, I figured out that one of the most important and critical part of event planning was choosing the right venue. As soon as you secure the venue, you can then have time to manage the budget, coordinate all the logistics and market your event. The venue booking process, however, is terribly painful. Everything from venue discovery, venue quotation, to price negotiation and booking can prove difficult to manage.
So the idea of creating a platform to facilitate this process came to my mind eventually, and together with other three great co-founders, I decided to start up GetSpaces on August 2015 and the company was created in October 2015. Our Beta product was released four months later, in the beginning of December 2015.
Fintechnews: What are the challenges that you had to overcome?
Quynh Huong DUONG: Working on GetSpaces is really challenging and everyday we continue to encounter hurdle after hurdle.
Among other difficulties, there are three big obstacles that we really need to overcome in this early stage:
- The eCommerce regulation in Vietnam is not yet firmed, and we have to work a lot on the contractual agreements with the venues to make sure the collaboration goes well;
- People do not have the habit of using eCommerce and online platforms, especially online transaction, that’s why the logistics and operation part is quite challenging;
- Last but not least, the event-organization itself is complicated with various pricing model, thus, it is also difficult for us to come up with a business model that is acceptable for both event organizers and venue owners.
Fintechnews: What are your ambitions for GetSpaces? What would you like to accomplish this year?
Quynh Huong DUONG: We aim to take GetSpaces off to the regional level, where an organizer from elsewhere in the world can co-ordinate her/his event series in several cities around Southeast Asia at ease.
And to begin, particularly for this year 2016, we want to reach monthly revenue of US$25,000 with a database of 600 venues within Vietnam.
Fintechnews: How would you describe Ho-Chi-Minh City’s startup scene?
Quynh Huong DUONG: The local ecosystem has gained popularity ever since the last two years, thanks to some early-successful startups and the ever-growing new generation of Vietnamese youth, dynamic, intellectuals, with a fusion of traditional and international concepts in their mindset.
We now have several coworking spaces all over Ho-Chi-Minh City, SHIELD – a startup community builder -, some big VCs, and various events dedicated to startups aimed at sharing knowledge.
The vibe is generally good and we observe several movements from the government as well.
However, everything is still at a very early stage, and it will take a lot more time so local startups can reach the same level as our regional friends, either in product-building mindset and capability, or fundraising.
Fintechnews: In your opinion, what are the main challenges when launching a startup in HCMC/Vietnam?
Quynh Huong DUONG: As of my own experience, main challenges are finding the right people, and the legal framework. There are an abundance of tech companies in Vietnam, thus, finding good engineers and designers who are willing to be committed to your (not-100%-surely-successful) startup, is one challenge.
Also, there are still many untapped legal points in the Vietnamese framework regarding eCommerce, and this, will also be a really big challenge.
Finally, there is an education challenge regarding eCommerce. However, this has been improved massively over the past year, and the trend is still positive for the year to come, so we are quite optimistic about this obstacle.
Fintechnews: What advice would you give to people who want to start their own business?
Quynh Huong DUONG: Just do it.
A dream cannot build itself on its own and everything will be hard as hell from the beginning. But if you really want to do it, just do it. And if it’s not working well, you can change your course anytime.
There are a favorite quote from Randy Pausch that I keep telling myself every time I feel like quitting:
“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
Fintechnews: Are you working on other ventures/projects, aside from GetSpaces?
Quynh Huong DUONG: For me, to make a startup successful, I have to give more than 100% and must not be distracted. So last December 2015, I exited from Fablab Saigon to keep focus on GetSpaces. But I still have one project to contribute to the startup community: CrowdPitch, an episodic monthly pitching event with a crowdfunding element. It only takes me maximum half a day per month, so it’s okay.