The common ground all tech giants such as Apple, Microsoft, or Amazon share is: a great idea in place, coupled with passion and aspiration in the pursuit of big dreams, let alone flashy outer shells or marvelous offices. Amazon started out of Bezos’ garage with a desk made out of a wooden door. Google was born in a dorm room at Stanford University, and Jack Ma founded Alibaba out of his small apartment.
Humble beginnings of these powerhouses prove that no matter where you begin your journey, it’s your passion, vision, and perseverance that determine your success, even if you’re operating out of a garage. Surprisingly even Vietnam, a country that doesn’t boast of many garages, to begin with, has its own success story.
Loship – The Journey Began In A Garage
Recently, Loship has become the name that is drawing much attention from domestic and foreign media with recognized advertising strategies and inspirational fundraising stories. The startup is the local representative in Vietnam’s food delivery market, competing against four Asian unicorns. Still, few know that those ideas and achievements have had roots in a dusty garage.
“When I started, I had only three things at my disposal: My dream, my passion, and little money to lift the business off the ground,” Trung Hoang Nguyen, Founder & CEO of Loship shared.
At this garage, there’s no cafeteria, city-view lounges, recreational areas, or even private meeting rooms with projectors. One’s first impression would be a large group of drivers flocked to sign up. The other side of the office piles up a bunch of food service material supplies, including plastic boxes, bags, spoons, takeaway food containers, etc. – located just a few steps away from the staff working space.
Notably, this warehouse is a part of Lo-supply service, providing raw materials and ingredients for Loship’s merchant partners. It’s considered a bold yet strategic move of Loship towards the goal of attaining profitability in the cut-throat competition of food delivery. In 2019, Lo-supply accounted for 30% of net profit for Loship, and the segment is growing even faster than its primary business.
Indeed, CEO Loship Trung Hoang Nguyen takes pride in this cluttered, messy area despite all workplace constraints and not-so-comfortable things all around. All meetings from candidate interviews, internal company gatherings, to strategic investor meetings happen inside this small garage. They believe in showing the real picture, the truth to all stakeholders, including investors and potential employees. They accept reality and do not believe in trying to fool stakeholders behind those flashy gimmicks, which is always associated with a startup. This old, messy garage of Loship is where dreams are nurtured, where young people work day in and day out to reach their goals, knowing very well that greater things can be achieved from humble beginnings.
Before officially settling in this garage, over the course of three years, Loship has moved around different workplaces. When Trung Hoang Nguyen founded Loship in 2017, the company was struggling to find its legs in a market increasingly dominated by regional competitors. His rough journey started from a tiny apartment when the CEO came up with the original idea, to another parking garage as his team expanded.
There even came a time when they had to work in a coffee shop as they got kicked out of the garage due to some conflicts with the garage owner. Still, despite plenty of office moves, those employees, who have chosen to stay with Loship since the early beginnings, feel proud to be part of this journey.
Startups aren’t always glamorous, And they do not have to be!
Most people tend to romanticize the idea of startups and entrepreneurship. They often think that startups are a glamorous world full of office perks, well-equipped cafeteria, ping pong tables, and cutting-edge facilities. But when you get down to it, startups are basically small businesses, and the real startup life isn’t as glamorous as you’ve probably heard about. There is cut throat competition all around and the startup is pushing itself to be successful and thrive in the long run.
In most startups, every penny counts, and it needs to be spent towards making the product better and satisfying customers, not on building impressive offices.
At the end of the day, the last thing to reflect back isn’t a nice seat or contemporary office, but the inspirations and experiences you’ve had during those garage days living the pure startup dream. There are ups and downs; there are highs and lows. As long as you can embrace the rollercoaster and enjoy the ride, you’ll find a tremendous sense of pride and empowerment whenever something greater happens down the road.
Startups: 90% don’t believe in big dreams
When it comes to startups, one cliché people often encounter is that “all in the same boat” – everybody holds great faith in their leaders. But it’s not always the case. Most people will have doubts at times about what the entrepreneurs are doing – and having everyone support you in the pursuit of your dreams is an illusion.
The harsh truth is that less than 10% of people, even those currently working at Loship, have faith in its entrepreneurial success. But it’s merely a fact of life, as stated by CEO Trung Hoang Nguyen. “When starting up, the odds of success are strongly against you. But sometimes along the way, you just need one or two accompaniers to work it out together. Once you’re already on the path to success and reach your next milestones, believers will come and join you in the journey,” he added.
Take Netflix as an example. It makes perfect sense that Netflix has become one of the world’s biggest streaming platforms. But it just didn’t look that way to most people in the beginning, where there have been many naysayers doubting the streaming giant’s ability to survive and thrive. Or Jack Ma started Alibaba out of a small apartment where only 18 people had faith in and accompanied him in those early days.
Loship has a similar story as a lot of naysayers are still questioning their dreams. Nonetheless, if other great dreamers and leaders have succeeded despite their doubters, so can this Vietnamese startup.
“I sometimes feel alone in my startup journey when the going gets rough, when there are little people around to help me bounce right back up. However, at the end of the day, it’d be worth enduring criticism and loneliness to achieve something grand or heroic,” added the CEO.
The rest, as we often say, is history
Certainly, startup life is tough. But that’s not to say it doesn’t come with great rewards, nor does it mean there aren’t ups to go with all the downs along the way.
After years of obstacles, doubters and setbacks, 2019 came with significant achievements as Loship successfully secured an eight-digit funding figure from South Korea’s Smilegate Investment in its Series C funding round, raising the company’s value 30X.
Marching ahead at a sky-rocketing rate, today Loship is a whole different story. In just eight months, Loship has developed a customer base of over 1,500,000 customers, expanding its full-scale services to five major cities in Vietnam, and heading down the path of joining the league of unicorns.
The rest, as we often say, is history. Apart from other global tech giants’ success stories we’ve all heard of, Loship from Vietnam is another living proof that you don’t always have to come from a privileged background to chase big dreams. Whether it’s a warehouse, a garage, a basement, or even a desk, as long as your drive and passion are big enough, you’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel. A single garage and a great idea are all it took to get going.
“Now that we have achieved something and worked in a shiny new office, the thing I want our employees never to forget is those tough days rolling around the old garage. We’ll never lose sight of our garage culture, regardless of how large we may become in the future. Because without them, we’ll never be here today,” concluded Trung.