Mike Nguyen, Founder and Director of VINOVA, grew up in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. He came to Singapore for university, graduated with a degree in Computer Science in 2006, stayed on at SoC for a Master’s programme which he completed in 2009, and has been living in here ever since. His co-founder, Alex Nguyen, also happens to be a SoC alumnus and is busy establishing their business in Vietnam.
|Alex and Mike (right)|
What do you do now?
I, together with my business partner Alex Nguyen, founded Vinova. Vinova provides and develops IT services and products. I have worked as multiple roles, from Sales to Delivery, such as a developer, cum project manager, cum sales person. After 3 years of operation, the company has grown bigger and more stable. I am now more focussed on the Customer. I am taking care of company revenue to ensure business continuity and support team growth. I also ‘quality check’ projects before they are delivered to customers. The training of the support team is part of the routine as well - this is to ensure that the number of projects on hand does not compromise the quality of support provided.
I met Alex during one of our Master’s courses. He is technically strong. We share a passion for programming. He is now more focused on Delivery. He has been training the development team and is in charge of product development. Together, we make a great team.
I am working on multiple web and mobile projects for customers, as well as for our own company. I am getting the chance to deal with customers from different sectors and employees from different backgrounds. I can help my customers solve their problems, create jobs for employees, and watch my company grow. I feel like I’m doing something meaningful and helpful. I always want to contribute my best, in whatever I am doing. Hence, looking at the company’s growth, the competent employees we’ve trained and the happy customers we’ve served, it drives my passion and I want to continue to work harder to achieve more and do even better.
I’d like to build up Vinova, both in size and in quality. My plan for the company is to focus more on IT services to gain capital to continue development of company products. I also want to maintain good company culture and welfare of employees. This is quite important.
I also have plans for my family. I know it is not easy to achieve work life balance, but it is important for me to plan so that I can achieve it.
Briefly describe your experience as an SoC student.
Being a SoCian is cool. I was taught with technical and non-technical stuff. I enjoyed the good facilities, teachers, and environment that is encouraging of entrepreneurship that we have in SoC. Mr. Aaron Tan [was probably the faculty member who made the biggest impression on me]. He is very dedicated to teaching. His lectures were always crowded with many students.
The ‘craziest’ thing that I did was walk from PGP to NUH for supper and ‘sweet-soup’ at 2am with a group of around 10 friends. I don't think we’ll ever get to do that again. [My favourite thing about my time at SoC was] playing games with friends. We played AOK nightly at that time. [I also really enjoyed] my first year’s Rag Day. [However, the thing I found most challenging and interesting was] my final year project. [If there is one thing I would have done differently during my time here, it would have been to] make better use of the Entrepreneur scheme. There was plenty of support available at SoC that I didn’t know of so could not make use of.
What do you count as your most significant achievements since graduating from SoC?
Getting married. Hahaha. [Actually,] establishing an IT company that has been up and running for more than 3 years, with 25 staff. It's hard to tell why [I pursued it]. I just felt it was a right time for me to move on that way.
It's all about hard work from morning to midnight. At first, it was very difficult to find customers. We were very young and inexperienced at the time. We didn't know how to sell our services. Because of that, we had to do everything we could at the cheapest rate as possible in order to get projects to sustain the company. Then we slowly built up our reputation, portfolio, and partner network. After 2 years, customers just started coming to us naturally.
What is something most people would be surprised to learn about you?
Probably that I always spend time helping my wife clean the house during weekends, and that I wash the dishes after we finish our dinners.
What advice would you give a prospective SoC student?
Study hard and Play hard. Make full use of the support you available in SoC. Get as much hands on experience as you can. Keep an eye out on what’s going on in the IT industry.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?
Reading books about leadership and management. They really open my mind.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
If you like anything, just do it. Life is short, don't think too much.
Quick-fire: Song you have repeated the most this month?
I find myself listening to Richard Clayderman every time I am seated at my work desk.