This decade has witnessed an unprecedented emergence of start-up projects and youth entrepreneurship at various fields: from agriculture, technology, education to healthcare. In Vietnam, policy makers are even embracing a plan to turn the country into a start-up nation by 2020, following which start-up projects and small or medium-sized enterprises will be offered both legal and financial support from the government. Along with these positive movements, a number of start-up contests have been held to empower young entrepreneurs with their innovative business ideas. KBS, abbreviation for Kawai Business Start-up, is one of the most outstanding competitions for young entrepreneurs; and more impressively, it is also organized by just a group of Vietnamese university students – Tomorrow Entrepreneurs Club, Foreign Trade University (TEC FTU).
Established in 2006, KBS has developed to be an annual contest for business start-up ideas of young entrepreneurs across the country. Sponsored by Kawai Scholarship Foundation and Japanese Embassy in Vietnam, the competition has proudly served as a launching pad for several enterprises which are now prospering in the real market, including the most popular online newspaper for youngsters – Channel14, the most prestigious information platform about studying and working opportunities for young people – Ybox.vn, and one of the biggest design training centers for beginners – Color Me.
Starting from a small contest 11 years ago with tens of participants, this year KBS attracted over 100 potential business ideas of university and high-school students across the country. During the first round, contestants’ portfolio about the project was screened and only 15 teams who have the best start-up plans can get the chance to the second round. There were three stages in the second round, in which participants had the opportunities to attend training and mentoring sessions, gain knowledge about start-ups and receive advice from counselors as well as business specialists in order to develop and polish their plan. After passing three stages: general intensive training, marketing and sales mentoring, human and financial resources plan making, five best teams succeeding in the pitching session were chosen to the grand final round.
This year, the chosen five were 9Slide – design training course for presentation and communication, Fresh Deli – home-cooked rice service, Mubahi – smart helmet, Pentomino – creative toys for kids, and Quick.silver – global shopping mobile app. In the final round, five teams had to present their detailed business plans, call for investment from sponsors and deal with the possible risks that they may encounter when running their businesses. The team who accumulated the most points after these sessions would be announced as the winner.
Mubahi – the idea of attaching a smart device onto the helmet, to detect accidents and notify families if something serious happen, impressed the judging panel and won the first prize of the contest this year. Besides, other business ideas were also potential and all teams received valuable rewards, as a hand to help them realize their plan in real life.
Despite being organized by university students, and the fact that most participants are still in their undergraduate years, Kawai Business Start-up contest has proved to be a professional and reliable competition, a place where young entrepreneurs are inspired, empowered and supported to conduct and develop their business.
By Nguyen Nguyet Minh, ASEAN Correspondent from Vietnam