KrASIA is one of Hanoi Innovation Summit 2019’s media partners.
Christy Trang Le was appointed as CEO of Go-Viet in April this year following the departure of two top executives.
Her appointment has been expected to turn the page for Gojek’s ambition in the Vietnamese market. After one year of operating in Vietnam, Go-Viet said it has crossed the 100 million rides benchmark. However, much more needs to be done in order to become a multi-service platform, similar to what Gojek offers in Indonesia, including rolling out Go-Car and Go-Pay services.
Christy Trang Le is a familiar face in the Vietnamese tech and entrepreneurship community. She was the former CEO for Facebook Vietnam and used to work alongside her husband, Sonny Vu, at consumer wearables startup Misfit Wearables, which her husband co-founded and which was later acquired by Fossil Group for USD 260 million.
KrASIA caught up with Christy Trang Le on the sideline of Hanoi Innovation Summit, where she was one of the speakers.
KrASIA (Kr): How did you adjust from the online world of Facebook to the primarily offline world of Go-Viet? What have been some of your key takeaways after taking the hot seat at Go-Viet?
Christy Trang Le (CTL): In the past, I could sit behind my computer and have the confidence that I can understand the situation by just seeing the numbers. With the offline world, there are many things you can’t understand unless you are on the road. And after being on the road, I can also go back to the online world to be more creative and improve the products. It’s complicated but also more interesting. There are of course challenges because our platform affects not just consumers but also drivers, restaurants, and shop owners.
In this combination of online and offline, creativity does not just come from services providers but also the community of users and partners. In the past, I sat in front of my laptop and could work from anywhere. With Go-Viet, I have to be on the road more often, including going to the office to connect with team members.
Kr: You came to Go-Viet in April this year, following the departure of two top directors who later reportedly demanded a large sum of money for compensation. Did that cause you some hesitation from joining the team?
CTL: Not at all. As an entrepreneur, I was very much drawn towards innovative products that can help change people’s lives, whether it’s Facebook or Go-Viet. Facebook’s products and services of course greatly impacted Vietnamese people and similarly, I know that Gojek in Indonesia contributed a great deal to the development of Indonesia’s society as well. It connects services providers, many of whom are lower-income laborers, to the many consumers with demand in the city.
This is the case when technology services and products go beyond serving the educated population to touch the lives of many. I believe in the multi-service platform that Go-Viet is building which can open up sustainable income opportunities for low-income service providers in Vietnam. What else could be more meaningful than that?
Kr: Last month, Go-Viet announced some major milestones after one year of operating in Vietnam, including crossing the 100 million rides benchmark. Are you happy with these results? For Go-Viet to take off further in the Vietnamese market, we’re waiting for it to launch Go-Car and Go-Pay very soon. Do you see this coming in the future?
CTL: We aspire to build the country’s most comprehensive multi-service platform. We are on a journey to build out service offerings on Go-Viet platform to meet Vietnamese people’s needs and provide solutions to the daily problems faced by them. We have a good example from Gojek, which has scaled up as the largest on-stop solution for customers, providing around 20 services on its app now. In order to achieve that, we will have to roll out more services in the future in Vietnam.
What the team in Vietnam has achieved over the past year has blown away all the initial forecasts. Within just one year, Go-Viet has established itself as one of the largest consumer transactional platforms in Vietnam. Ride-hailing is an important component to our overall business as it is one of the most frequently used services that draws users to the app and provides a constant source of income for our driver partners. But on top of the bike rides, we are connecting 70 thousand food merchants to millions of users. GoSend has also completed millions of orders since its launch last year.
I believe that our commitment to leverage technology to create more value for society, improving efficiency, productivity and promoting financial inclusion is working well. As a team leader, I always remind my team members that the goal is to provide the best services to the best of our ability based on our existing resources.
Kr: How do you see the competition between Grab and Gojek in Vietnam and in Southeast Asia in general?
CTL: There is a lot of untapped potential for us to grow further. I think competition is great for users. If there’s just one service provider, then the users will have the most to loose. When there are different services providers, users can have more options and also force services providers to constantly improve their products and services. I fully support healthy and much-needed competition.
In Southeast Asia, especially in Vietnam, there is still room for multiple players to take part in the market and deliver more value-added services and choices across ride-hailing and other verticals including food delivery. Competition would keep us on our toes and energises us to constantly find new ways to serve and satisfy our customers.
From the consumers’ point of view, it’s great to have their demand met. Unlike business people, consumers do not think about super app or not. They only think that with just this app, they can book a ride, order food or in the future call for someone to tailor their clothes, clean their houses, fix their electricity or do their nails or make-up. I think all users want that kind of platform. For services providers, that kind of platform also allows them to reach more people outside their neighbourhood, providing much needed additional income.
Kr: After your on-the-road challenge as a Go-Viet driver for one day, what are some of your lessons learned and will that help you improve Go-Viet’s benefit programs for drivers?
CTL: We recently launched the “on-the-road challenge” initiative on the occasion of the one-year anniversary of Go-Viet and encouraged all employees to be part of it. We know that only when we put ourselves on the driver partner’s seat, we can understand their real needs, pain points and experience. I want this initiative not to stop here but to last long and whenever we have time, we can go out for a Go-Viet ride.
After my first ride, I realized how much more we can enhance the comfortability of the outfits for drivers, how important it is for drivers to feel connected with each other and with customers as they represent the brand Go-Viet. At the end of the day, it’s about helping drivers generate additional income. Besides that, of course, there are many things we can do like training and ensuring that their efforts are greatly appreciated by the company. When we appreciate the drivers, they will feel proud and they will in return appreciate the customers.
The interview was partially conducted in Vietnamese, and has been translated and edited for clarity and brevity.