A Vietnamese CEO explains how being a Founder Friday speaker helped her keep learning in a new country and cross a cultural divide.
By Jessica Schimm (Assistant Editor, Women 2.0)
At Founder Friday, we want to bring you face to face with people whose stories will refresh and motivate you, which is why we invite impressive founders to share their experiences at each event. This past June, Greengar co-founder and CEO Thuy Truong addressed one gathering, and shared her inspiring story. But as she explained in an interview, she gained as much as she was given at the event.
Truong earned her degree in computer science at USC, but before springing into the tech scene with Greengar, which has seen major success at startup competitions, Truong started her entrepreneurial journey by establishing her own self-serve frozen yogurt chain in Vietnam.
Truong raised nearly $400,000 through her company Parallel Frozen Yogurts, but soon received an offer from friend, and Greengar founder, Elliot Lee, to join Greengar.
After giving it some thought, Truong ultimately discontinued her frozen yogurt chain and joined Greengar as CEO and co-founder, looking to impact more lives. She explained that through Greengar, which focuses on real-time mobile collaboration, she would be able to impact people on a global level -- at Parallel Yogurts the impact would only extend to a national level.
Greengar has recently seen a lot of success in startup competitions. Truong was a PITCH SF 2013 Startup Competition finalist and participated in the 500 Startups accelerator program earlier this year. More recently, she competed with 50 other entrepreneurs from around the world in Infodev’s “Fifth Global Forum,” and took first prize in the Dragon’s Den Pitching Competition. Greengar’s Whiteboard: Collaborative Drawing app has seen 8 million downloads alone.
A Two-Way Exchange
While Truong inspired female founders with her own Founder Friday, she is simultaneously being inspired and encouraged in return by other women from Founder Friday.
“I met a couple of people over there who I think are very interesting,” she said, adding that she has been in touch with one VP she met. “We have been in touch and she is helping me in connections and advising for my company as well.”
Founder Friday has also given Truong a sense of encouragement that is hard to find in her home country, Vietnam.
"Founder Friday is a great networking and inspirational event where I found lots of energy and encouragement for my entrepreneur journey. I came from Vietnam, a developing country where women are expected to take care [of] our family, cooking, and cleaning. Though most Vietnamese women are very entrepreneurial, we have to keep our dreams and career lower priority than family or at least the husbands. We talked about business, but we don't have that dream and desire to build a big company or make a difference," Truong wrote in an email. "[Founder Friday] gives me lots of courage and [helps me] feel less lonely on the entrepreneur path."
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Jessica Schimm (@JessicaSchimm) is the assistant editor at Women 2.0. She is a recent graduate of San Francisco State where she earned a B.A. in journalism and was the editor-in-chief of SF State’s Her Campus chapter. She has a strong interest in women’s issues and writes about them on her blog Women Who Run San Francisco.