Pivoting To Grow Your Business During Lockdown (LIVE)

Episode 3 – Martial Ganière

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Perfect for people with hearing issues or non-native speakers. This transcript is made by AI so is not 100% accurate.

[00:00:00] Niall Mackay: Thank you so much for joining us on the first live podcast that we’ve done. And over two years of 7 million bikes, a Vietnam podcast, I’m introduced, I’m excited to introduce my guest today. So he founded a creative agency back in 2002. Then you moved to Saigon in 2012 to set up and to help grow the agency.

[00:00:22] Then in 2014, to took a coworking space called the star center, which grew into a, a driving digital community until of course, then COVID hit and changed everything. And so now he’s pivoted he’s changed tack and he’s developed a course during the first lockdown to help entrepreneurs get more clients and automate their sales.

[00:00:41] So I’m excited to introduce my guest. It is Martial Ganière. Thanks for having me. How’s it going? Doing great. Awesome. That’s that’s a lie. No, one’s doing great.

[00:00:55] Martial Ganière: I’m loving. I’m loving this look down. I’m sorry.

[00:00:59] Niall Mackay: Is that the truth? Is that right? Is that a truth? Yes. I’m loving this look down. Why is

[00:01:04] Martial Ganière: that? I feel bad for so many people that are struggling right now, but actually for me, I, you know, I told myself it’s the occasion, the opportunity to read.

[00:01:16] Change everything in my life and just do what I always wanted to do. Plenty of time. I had everything I needed, good internet, the fridge full. So I could focus on developing new stuff work on my online course. And so no excuse to procrastinate.

[00:01:36] Niall Mackay: Nice. I’m trying to look into your eyes and be like, do you really mean now?

[00:01:39] Are you just telling us that? Do you really?

[00:01:41] Martial Ganière: That was true.

[00:01:44] Niall Mackay: So one of the things that when we were talking previously, I was very jealous that you had a swimming pool. And then you told me what happened to your swimming pool. If you want to share with people in. And I was like, oh, well, I’m not so jealous anymore. Sure.

[00:01:59] Martial Ganière: Yeah. So last year for the first log down and we had the full working, but somehow this year, It turned more into a frog bond because we don’t have anyone to come and cleaning up.

[00:02:09] So I think it’s lack of chlorine and now we have lots of frogs in it. So it’s one of like a green pond, not so nice. So I don’t have a bull.

[00:02:19] Niall Mackay: Unfortunately I was so jealous. I was like, well, do you have a pool? And then you’re like, no, it’s not that

[00:02:26] Martial Ganière: now, but I do have a nice garden. So that has to be on.

[00:02:30] Niall Mackay: Yeah, I do.

[00:02:32] I’m very jealous of that. We have a very tiny, tiny balcony. Last week. I tried to lie on a it’s so small. Like I, I can barely even fit lying down with my legs up. I don’t get like two minutes. I was like, this is not comfortable at all. So I’m very jealous that you have a garden and.

[00:02:50] Now, originally when we first met, I thought you were from friends. I said, I was talking to a friend. I was like, oh, you know that guy, Masiello the French guy. And he’s like, I’m pretty sure he’s Swiss. And I was like, oh, all right. Maybe then. You’re from Switzerland on the VNM podcast. We’ve actually had a couple of Swiss guests on the show.

[00:03:10] There were Swiss Vietnamese though. And I assume then you have a bit of a Vietnamese population in Switzerland then

[00:03:17] Martial Ganière: I didn’t know. And even amazed before. I mean, in Switzerland, before getting here except one victim, his shop just a across from my office. So that was very convenient to buy Asian produce.

[00:03:31] Niall Mackay: And what about, did they sound like fun? All of this stuff up?

[00:03:35] Martial Ganière: Yeah, they are like all like Asian produced, mostly like imported from Thailand. And so I guess there is a bit of a Asian community buying from the. And so the owner is Vietnamese and she would she would give me some alternative to how, how to cook some Vietnamese dishes.

[00:03:52] There was very interesting,

[00:03:54] Niall Mackay: right? Well, one of the things we talked about without an EMI, and it was about how the stereotype of Switzerland is a cuckoo clocks in chocolate and a. Known Tim banks and banks and corrupt bankers, I think was what we talked about. But the reality is a bit different than what they were describing to me was as quite multicultural as well, which I think from, from the outside, you are obviously a white guy.

[00:04:23] You just expect that more Swiss people would look like you, but in the reality is different.

[00:04:30] Martial Ganière: Yeah, so we have four different linguistic regions and we have four, so 20% of immigrants, most of them are quite very well integrated into society. Some Africans, a lot of Eastern Europeans. We have a lot of a big expat community to English and Americans in the French.

[00:04:55] Niall Mackay: What is the biggest miss the biggest stereotype about Switzerland? That isn’t true.

[00:05:00] Martial Ganière: Or I have to think about this one, one time someone told me that, oh, you don’t have space. You, you guys don’t play football because there’s not enough space for a football court, you know? Cause we only have mountains, so you cannot play football.

[00:05:15] And I laughed when I heard that.

[00:05:18] Niall Mackay: So it’s an unused to have a pretty good football team when I was growing up. I don’t know about these. Nah, they never been that good were all right. I think they got to the 94 world cup, I think. Right.

[00:05:30] Martial Ganière: Yeah, I don’t recall.

[00:05:32] Niall Mackay: So for everyone that’s watching this live, you know, so this is the difference because all this a shit talk that I can just edit out of the the normal podcast and you don’t get to hear all of this, but this is the benefit of the live podcast. You get to just hear me talking absolute shit. And so welcome.

[00:05:47] I hope you’re enjoying it. But one of the things about Switzerland that did you see the Jordan Klepper video? No, not Jordan Klepper, Bruce from the daily show about the gun culture and Switzer. Yes. I saw that. Yes. Yeah. That for me was shocking because Switzerland has like, you know, really high gun ownership, like 97% or something crazy, but almost zero deaths from from guns.

[00:06:10] Who did you use a gun growing up and whatnot. Are you trying

[00:06:12] Martial Ganière: to use a gun growing up? No. But I did the. You know, it’s mandatory for us. So I did have a gun. What I did is you have the choice to return it or to keep it of course you need a license, you need everything to go with. So I decided not to keep it.

[00:06:30] I don’t have any use for it. And so usually most people have their gun in their basement, you know, in their cellar or in a locked. Locker, but now actually they, the army can keep it for you just to avoid a bit of, you know, that hassle. ‘

[00:06:50] Niall Mackay: cause when we were talking, I think it wasn’t you. And I was saying about this gun ownership and she was not too aware of it.

[00:06:55] She’s like, well, I didn’t know this. And then she was like, wait, that makes sense. So it used to always be soldiers on the, on the like public transport with guns and things like that.

[00:07:06] Martial Ganière: Usually people don’t carry it around. They don’t, they can’t. The only time you can take it out of the house is when you go to the shooting ranch to rehearse every year, you have to view.

[00:07:16] Shooting you know, so in an event of a war, you’re ready, you know, you have your weapon, you have your, your seared box of ammunition and you’re ready to go to war. The funny fact is that Switzerland never been in the war. So, you know,

[00:07:35] Niall Mackay: Switzerland,

[00:07:37] Martial Ganière: just in case Germany wants.

[00:07:41] Niall Mackay: So this is, these are, I’m not, this is an ignorant question.

[00:07:44] I actually don’t know the answer to this. Why is Switzerland always considered neutral? Is that actually true? Are they actually neutral? And why, why do they have this kind of status as a neutral country?

[00:07:56] Martial Ganière: They are neutral. And I think the, the way that we present that is Switzerland is the headquarter of the UN and they have about 400 NGOs in Geneva.

[00:08:09] It’s the capital of diplomacy as they say. And so they really want to play on that. So one thing I learned as a kid is that we’re not allowed. So weapons to one part, one part of the conflict, one side of the conflict. If there’s a war between two countries we can only sell to both or none, and this is how we are

[00:08:31] Niall Mackay: neutral.

[00:08:33] Martial Ganière: So this is what I learned as a kid. And as far as I know about

[00:08:38] Niall Mackay: Switzerland manufacture, many ways. Yes.

[00:08:41] Martial Ganière: So lot. Yes. Yes. We’re very good at manufacturing.

[00:08:47] Niall Mackay: Wait, what? Okay. This is something, this is new information. I, okay. So I can have evolved the main set as well. That Switzerland is very small and flanked by mountains.

[00:08:57] I don’t think it’s small enough that you don’t have a soccer field. I can imagine there’s plenty of room for a soccer field, but I know you’ve got a massive pharmaceutical industry. I would never have imagined having a, where did this come from to you? You have a massive manufacturing industry, but you’re neutral.

[00:09:13] So you sell weapons to both say.

[00:09:16] Martial Ganière: Yeah. So I’m not sure about this right now. This was something we were always joking about as a kid when I was a kid. But we, we are neutral. We cannot support one side of a conflict. We have to support everyone. I think the only, the only time we were involved was with the you know, the war in the Eastern Europe, UK.

[00:09:37] So we did have some neutral force there just to help with the rescue, but that was our army center. So that’s the only time we had our army out of the country.

[00:09:48] Niall Mackay: Right. So that was my next question. So you have mandatory military training, but is that mostly to help out within your own country in terms of like, if there’s a natural disaster or whatnot, or if you’re invaded, I guess like, what is that?

[00:10:02] Would that be the purpose of having. So, yeah,

[00:10:05] Martial Ganière: so that, that’s what they sell us. So we keep paying for it because otherwise the army is totally useless, I would say. So it’s mostly to help in terms of natural disasters and even in terms of like social events, if there’s like, Competition or a national events, the army would help him to for logistics and parking and all that stuff.

[00:10:28] You know,

[00:10:29] Niall Mackay: the army, I was talking in the Vietnamese military open with shopping.

[00:10:37] Martial Ganière: Yeah, exactly. And actually a great thing I did in the army. Because actually I never practiced what I learned during the army because my. My company was deemed obsolete right after I finished my training. I was assigned to a military hospital.

[00:10:54] And so what they call me for was to help during the para Olympics. So we, how the Paralympics competition and we had to help them to set up the key, this key slopes, you know, and I had to carry the handicap people, athletes into the the cable car. So that’s what I did. But it is, it

[00:11:17] Niall Mackay: is very noble.

[00:11:18] It’s a good, it’s a great experience. I’m sure. I’m sure I’m still laughing so much that you can either support none or both. It’s like two guys getting in tough this fate at the pub, and then someone coming up and breaking up and being like, guys, guys, just leave it. Don’t fate. But look, if you are going to fight each other, here’s a baseball bat.

[00:11:36] Martial Ganière: Each. Yeah, or I think we can sell, but only when the country is not in conflict, something like that. Yeah. See, look it up.

[00:11:47] Niall Mackay: This is so twisted too. We don’t support anyone, but we do. We do manufacture arms as brilliant. And then, so you do, I know I worked for a cancer research Institute in New Zealand and the director of that had worked for what’s the big medical facility.

[00:12:04] Switzerland. No, my mind is blanking. Well, you have so many, right?

[00:12:10] Martial Ganière: You

[00:12:11] Niall Mackay: mean like a research Institute, a medical discern discern not sound like more medic cause that’s more like a physic trait like

[00:12:20] Martial Ganière: physics.

[00:12:20] Niall Mackay: What’s the, a medical research Institute.

[00:12:24] Martial Ganière: Most universities have a research. Hospitals have a university department on the hospital.

[00:12:30] There’s like four. I’m not sure

[00:12:32] Niall Mackay: which one, I forgot you have sailed as well. Does that, is that unnerving to have some massive experimental physics loop running? How big is it like running under your country? Yeah, I would be scared

[00:12:45] Martial Ganière: of the Switzerland turning into a black hole, but so it’s right under Geneva.

[00:12:53] And it’s it’s a

[00:12:54] Niall Mackay: little diplomacy, has black coal under it, and

[00:12:59] Martial Ganière: it’s also it’s part of it is under France as well. So it’s on the border of Switzerland of Geneva and France and it’s right under the airport as well. You know, so it’s interesting.

[00:13:14] Niall Mackay: It’s under France as well. Cause if it gets fucked up for us, we’re going to fuck up and friends at the same time, too.

[00:13:20] Martial Ganière: Well, I think it’s a European, it’s a European research center. So France is also quite involved in the, in the

[00:13:27] Niall Mackay: process. So how many people live in Switzerland? We have like 8.5 million people. People. How many people it’s a population of Switzerland. So 8.5

[00:13:37] Martial Ganière: million 20% like 2 million something of immigrants.

[00:13:42] So only that Swiss million Swiss people. And we have a German. Part German speaking parts, 60%, a French speaking parts of 35%. And we have a Italian speaking parts, 3% or something like that. And then we have a tiny little port that speak like an old forgotten Latin. So yeah, well I guess young people, they just turn the German, which is like the main language in that.

[00:14:12] Niall Mackay: So I didn’t realize Switzerland was so big. Actually, Scotland’s just about 5 million. I thought Switzerland was even smaller, so 8 million, but you guys punch above your weight with your your sail and your pharmaceuticals and your manufacturing, and then your cuckoo clocks as well. Where does that come from?

[00:14:28] This that you do? Where are you guys? The inventors of cuckoo clock?

[00:14:34] Martial Ganière: I’m not sure about inventing it, but actually the, the the watch you have

[00:14:39] Niall Mackay: one.

[00:14:41] Martial Ganière: I don’t have a cuckoo clock. The watch industry is quite big. It’s a bit of our pride as well. So actually all this is like condensed into like 30% of the landscape because 70% is mountain.

[00:14:55] And then 30% is the, you know, the countryside, the land where we can build cities and manufacturing.

[00:15:03] Niall Mackay: Sweet. All right. Nice. So here we’ll move on from Switzerland. Doing Switzerland did that, but I do find out they’re funding the super fund into my ingesting. And again, guys, I hope you’re enjoying what’s in this life because this is probably all this stuff that would never make it to the final podcast.

[00:15:17] If we did a recording and the recording. So you moved to Vietnam, you said 2012. Oh no. You started your 2012. You moved to Vietnam, right? Correct. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. So what then, why did you choose Vietnam? How did you end up with.

[00:15:31] Martial Ganière: Yeah. So I first started with Thailand, Bangkok. I had a designer there working for my agency and we wanted to develop Asia because I think it was relevant you know, to be an issue, especially after the 2009 economic crisis where I lost so many clients.

[00:15:48] And so being in Israel was a thing. And then I researched a few countries and Vietnam was the only one that offered me a hundred percent ownership of my. Offered me a resident card. And I could do everything with just the lawyers. So it was so convenient. I said, let’s do it.

[00:16:08] Niall Mackay: That’s not, that’s changed.

[00:16:10] No, right. That’s not. Nope. Possible. Is it it’s?

[00:16:13] Martial Ganière: No, it it’s 10 possible. So. I think it was the first year, 2012, where you could do it for it. So I re I registered an it company and that was the first year you could do that. So I was one of the first, before you needed a Vietnamese partner you can do that as a restaurant owner as well.

[00:16:33] You can do that in a few industries, but it’s quite limited. Yes.

[00:16:37] Niall Mackay: The the last I, I, cause I looked into this and I held the cause obviously, you know, there’s been a massive change in visa laws and we can, I call it the gray X-bar Exodus as so many people had to leave in and because of those changes and I didn’t look into it for myself, but I know other people that looked into it as far as I know the law right now, too, if you own a business to be able to get a resident card, you need to have a minimum investment of 3 billion dong, which is about $130,000.

[00:17:06] Martial Ganière: So, yeah, that, that changed before it was a lot easier. So they were asking me like 50,000 daughter, you know, to set up shop. And I said to make websites it’s too much. Can we do with 30? Is it? Yeah, sure. So, you know, it’s worked, everything is.

[00:17:24] Niall Mackay: Yeah, I know. Yeah. Cause we set up 7 million bytes as a business this year and they can say, well, you need to have X amount of money in the bank.

[00:17:31] And I was like, well, can we put this amount of money? And they’re like, yeah, that’s fine. Okay. So did Vietnam 2012. I asked this question a lot on the podcast. We have people who’ve been in on this. From various times, like think that the guests who’d been here, the earliest was either Gerardo who first come first, came to Vienna 40 years ago.

[00:17:53] And then people from varying, like to 10 20, 30, 2, those in 12 tell people here that are listening. I think from, I know most of the, some of the people here anyway, and some are Vietnamese, so they obviously know what it was like. But for you, what was Vietnam like in 2012? Cause I know from me arriving in 2006, it was so different.

[00:18:15] Martial Ganière: Yes. It was very different indeed. It was already bustling, but I think it’s even worse now for the worst and the better. So traffic was kind of fun back then. I loved it. So it was hectic, but actually you could still cross the road without worrying too much now in some places. Let’s put dodgy. So it was less polluted.

[00:18:39] It was nicer in terms of streets less cars, a lot less cars. So that was stripped me most. There was not many options in terms of like Western food, Western restaurants and all the bars we have now. So we’ve been, was pretty lame.

[00:18:57] Niall Mackay: Boy. VM was better. So when we first arrived, like. You know, everyone won.

[00:19:01] There’s not to go to boy VN, but we went, we went mostly because we were studying literally at the end of the EVN. So it just made sense to go there, but it was still quite fun. It was still local. It wasn’t so crazy. It was crazy, but not as crazy, crazy as it is now and over the last year or so. Adrian. I have just driven down there just to see what it’s like.

[00:19:25] Maybe if we’re in the neighborhood and we’re on the bike, we’re like, let’s just drive down and go in to see what it’s like. And it’s men too. Now

[00:19:32] Martial Ganière: it’s.

[00:19:32] Niall Mackay: I think that what people expected to happen a few years ago was it just became super like, ah, I don’t know what to use the word like Americanized or developed or commercialized maybe is the word I’m looking for. Cause it was already like a Starbucks had opened, there was a. Burger king had opened and a few other kind of like those kinds of stools.

[00:19:53] And I think at the time what we talked about and others, I think was that it was going to end up becoming just super commercialized, you know, like another kind of, one of all these corporations and stuff, but it’s gone in a completely different direction. I don’t know when the last time you went down on anyone who’s listening.

[00:20:08] When was the last time you went to boy VN? It’s no, just like a competition to see which bark and be the most obnoxious the loaders. That’s just, it, there was always kind of like seemed to be quite a lot of aggression and fights, but from what I could see on lane anyway, that even seemed to increase as well.

[00:20:25] So I think it’s probably changed now again during the pandemic, but it’s almost as well. It went from being a super tourist spot to no, becoming more for the locals almost from what I can see.

[00:20:38] Martial Ganière: Yes, definitely. Before they looked down, it started looking very much like Costanoa road. So I felt that it was getting towards the direction.

[00:20:49] Niall Mackay: Yeah, I, when we were there, when if everyone can remember when traveling was allowed, my aunt had visited and we went, we were around the boy van region and we were walking down and of course she walks by the guy in the corner and he’s like, Madame, Madame, marijuana, marijuana, cocaine. And my aunt she’s like in a sixties or something like, what did he just ask me?

[00:21:09] And he’s like, yeah, sure. If you wouldn’t need marijuana or cocaine, she’s like, whoa. I was like, yep. Welcome. Welcome to Boise. And that’s it. But at what you said about the cars as well, I mean, so again, for me coming 2016 there was very few cars on the road, but that has exponentially increased. So 2012, there must have been very few calls on the road back then.

[00:21:33] Sure.

[00:21:33] Martial Ganière: Only taxis, most of the time, maybe corporate cars or like those M seven seaters that you could rent for the day.

[00:21:42] Niall Mackay: And then that was it. Right. And then I, so this was a question I asked a couple of seasons ago was would you rather live in Vietnam? Oh, 20 years ago. What would you say?

[00:21:58] Martial Ganière: That’s a very good question.

[00:21:59] I would say now, just because now you have access to a lot more food and, you know, comfort food and wine. And I was starting to miss those cheese and bread, and now we have all this. So of course the experience would have been more authentic maybe 20 years ago, but now I’m living it too.

[00:22:20] Niall Mackay: Yeah. And we’ll do you know what I realized as I was, as I was asking that question throughout the season.

[00:22:26] It’s one of these like quite I kind of not regret asking the question, but it’s such a Western centric point of view because I think it was a Vietnamese guest pointed out to me. He’s like, yeah, well, like 20 years ago, the country was poorer. And I think as a Western a weekend, romanticize it like, oh, would it be so amazing to be here 20 years ago would have been more authentic and simpler and, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

[00:22:49] But we’re just looking at it from our point of view, which is the only point of view you can really have. And until you kind of think of others, but your original point of view is your own point of view. So exactly like you said, no, we’re like, oh, there’s more food and things like this, but I think, and now it’d be interesting to hear from some of the Vietnamese people that are here after, after.

[00:23:07] What did they think of that question? Because for them 20 years ago, they’d probably be like, why would we want to be 20 years ago? Like the country was poor. We didn’t have as many options. No. Like things are so much better. So I, I do, it is a very Western centric question and I think, yeah, even see other people talk about, I’ve said it before.

[00:23:25] I’d love to have gone to Cambodia 20 years ago or I’d have loved to been in Vietnam 20 years ago. But I think. We are easily romanticizing the fact that like, oh yeah, it would have been such a nice experience for us. Cause then we get to leave and go back to our cozy Western existence. But for the people that are living that experience, it’s not so nice even though I do.

[00:23:45] I think the question is an interesting question to ask. I do have that caveat to add.

[00:23:53] Martial Ganière: I think that’s a very good point if I may. I like now that young people can open shop, like coffee shops and businesses and design shop, and that’s something we can not see. When I first arrived here. Now you see those young people building businesses, and I love that and I think this is great for them.

[00:24:09] So exactly. I would not want them to go back to 10 years ago, but actually instead of 20 years ago, I would say maybe before the seventies, I would love to. At that time to see how it was before the before 75.

[00:24:24] Niall Mackay: Yeah. That’s a whole different story. Right? Cause I’ve had stories about how there was like a thriving music scene and and Alair, who’s here on the call and we used to work together and we are good friends.

[00:24:33] And she’s told me stories about her family from back then. And the things I’ve held from back in pre 1975, that would be a cool time to, I know it’s quite sad as well because. From my understanding, which is a very limited understanding of Saigon, at least lost a lot of that culture, lost a lot of that music, culture and art scene post 1975.

[00:24:55] But I guess it’s exciting to see it’s, it’s starting to come back and that’s exciting what you’re seeing about the opportunities for young people that, you know, things like coffee shops every day. There’s an well before there’s lockdown, but every day there was like a new coffee shop opening and you would go in and it would be clearly owned by a young Vietnamese person.

[00:25:14] Yeah. Sure. So how is that genius who tells her then your business 2012, you came here, you started a business. You don’t need to go into too much of the direct challenges that you faced as a business owner in Vietnam. Cause I’m sure that’s a very loaded question, but some of the, some of the challenges of starting a business in Vietnam and the differences that you’ve seen during that time, which you’ve touched on.

[00:25:37] Martial Ganière: Yeah. So I think the biggest challenge was the you know, staff recruitment finding the right people, trying to be understood and understand them was a big, big challenge for me. I lost so many staff for the first two years. It was very hard to retain because I think I was too small and I was like the white guy trying to build a business here.

[00:25:59] So that was a no go for most Vietnamese that wanted a stable job in a big corporation, a big name, just to show their friends that work at the big company. So they had little trust in, in startups back then. And I think that changed to that evolved to the last time.

[00:26:18] Niall Mackay: And well, would you say that there’s more and more young Vietnamese people at the forefront of those startups, like doing their own startups?

[00:26:25] Yeah. So

[00:26:25] Martial Ganière: the startups are more popular back then. It was not really a thing. Their family would dictate what they do and where they work. So starting a, a new business or a startup was not stable enough, you know, to sustain the family. So usually the parents would say no, or they would do that without telling their parents.

[00:26:43] I had one, one designer, and one day he didn’t come to work. It’s like, where are you? It’s like, oh, my parents doesn’t want, doesn’t want me to go to work. She wants me back in school. It’s like, I didn’t know you were students. Cool.

[00:26:54] So now I think that it’s a bit more widespread and a lot of people are trying to build businesses, but mostly on the side. So like side hustles, but as soon as they make money, they quit their job and they go from, which is great. Actually, I really love that.

[00:27:08] Niall Mackay: Well, I I’m just trying to remember. I can’t, I can’t remember at the moment who it was, but I just had someone say just last week the V a Saigon is one of the greatest places right now for startups and entrepreneurship.

[00:27:20] And so would you agree with that? And if so, why is it. Yes, I do agree.

[00:27:25] Martial Ganière: Vietnam is number three on the map in Southeast Asia regarding the startup ecosystem. Number one, being Singapore sorry. Indonesia and second Singapore. Yes. Ma’am is third and Vietnam is very attractive for startups. The main reason is that it’s big markets that is untapped in a lot of different industries.

[00:27:47] So a lot of Singaporeans or, or Asians wants to come to Vietnam to, to launch a business in the market.

[00:27:57] Niall Mackay: So I’ve a really stupid question for you. Okay. But I like asking stupid questions, even though it makes me look stupid. What is a star?

[00:28:05] Martial Ganière: I don’t think it’s a stupid question.

[00:28:07] Niall Mackay: Good. Okay. Thank you. And I actually, I’m asking a genuinely, because it’s one of these freezies they’ll, Tim’s, it’s thrown a boat and I like, oh yeah, yeah, start up. And then I think I don’t actually really know what it is.

[00:28:20] Martial Ganière: I think that’s a good question. And that reminds me of a story back in the days.

[00:28:24] I used to be invited to start-up competition where I would mentor or coach the applicants to the competition. And I. I met a young guy now and he told me, oh, I’m building a startup too. And I said, oh, what is it? I’m opening a coffee shop. And I laughed, you know? So a startup is actually a a business idea that wants to disrupt an industry.

[00:28:51] Or a markets and that wants to accelerate super fast. The idea is to raise money and then to investors wants to exit after a few years or maybe 10 years and cash, big money. So they’re looking for business idea that disrupts markets, just like Uber did or Airbnb did. And that, that improved lives like 10 time, you know, they want a 10 next difference.

[00:29:20] Niall Mackay: Okay. So that is what I bought. I thought of a startup was Uber. The first thing that came to mind, but I was thinking what you said this, why is I was kinda thinking like, why is a coffee shop? Not a start up? Like, what’s the difference between just starting a business is not all businesses are startup.

[00:29:39] So now that you’ve cleared up what a startup is, which is what I imagined it to be. Why are they so common? Is that. And is it just greet the people? Cause you see like the Titanic, they want to scale up quickly. They want investment. Is it just like a, is it just like a, get rich, quick scheme almost, you know, like a 21st century get rich quick scheme.

[00:30:00] If I start up, everyone wants a disruptive technology, right? That’s the buzzword, right? We’re going to do a disruptive technology. And then we’re going to get investment, then we’re going to be the next Uber. But that is one of these things that probably only happens to 1% or 0.1%. So sorry. I asked about five questions in the one thing there, but you can comment on the,

[00:30:21] Martial Ganière: yeah.

[00:30:22] So I think it’s a bit of a. Different things. Everyone has a different motivation when they start a startup. Some of them is the gold rush. You know, it’s the new gold rush they’re trying to get big or to get famous or to make big money. There’s they just like, they’re passionate about what they do. And I think most entrepreneurs That are successful.

[00:30:41] They’re just passionate. They want to solve a problem. They have, they know how to apply technology to solve a physical problem we have or a problem we have in one industry. And that’s what they do. They just love doing that. And that’s very remarkable.

[00:30:58] Niall Mackay: So you mentioned that that Saigon is a big place for startups because it’s kind of untouched and that would make sense.

[00:31:07] So with. For people doing startups here in my mind immediately, we did not then just to be replicate what is done in other countries. So my example would be Uber or grab or, or, and again, it blows my mind that in the time I’ve been here, when we first arrived 2016 ride hailing apps, didn’t exist here. Like you, we still got zooms.

[00:31:29] They will still, I never really see a guy on the street trying to sell you he’s more bank services, but that was normal. And again, that was part of the charm of Vietnam. And that almost ties into that romanticism of like, oh, it was so cute when you could just get a zeal on the street. But again, how much was the guy making now a guy’s on grab and he’s just literally just making money all day every day.

[00:31:48] And I don’t know the economic. Maybe he’s making less money on grab and he made more money as a private zoom. I don’t know. So maybe what I just said there is not true, but yeah, I kind of forgot my point now.

[00:31:59] Martial Ganière: Yes, I, there are some startups trying to replicate a model we have in the U S or in Europe. Lazada was one, for example, trying to replicate Amazon others are trying new models, new things because it’s cheap to fail. And I think that’s very important. Vietnam is cheap to fail. It’s easy to find motivated.

[00:32:21] People build a team testing. You can either test the Brode online or you can test here and if it works, you can scare in Southeast Asia.

[00:32:31] Niall Mackay: So you say it’s cheaper. Okay. And I, I see this in the restaurant industry as well, that a lot of restaurants come and go in my time here, they open up quickly. Then they, they disappear overnight almost.

[00:32:44] And you can only, although it’s too cheap here. Things, they will cost here like it. So you see it’s cheap, but it still costs tens of thousands of dollars. Right? So it means that you still, it’s not like any old person with no money can just come in and be like, well, I’m going to do this and that you still need to have backing.

[00:33:03] Right. It’s just that it’s going to cost you less than it would somewhere else. Is that what.

[00:33:08] Martial Ganière: Yes, that’s correct. It’s true that I didn’t find it that cheap either. Especially when you see all the costs and everything, you need to run like a lot of bureaucracy to run your business, but you know, for Singaporeans, for Japanese, for Koreans, I worked with, for

[00:33:23] Niall Mackay: them, it’s still very cheap.

[00:33:25] So we’re talking about people that. Have a bit of financial backing and coming in, but are you seeing, so you’re talking about young Vietnamese people becoming entrepreneurs, who are they? Do they have financial backing behind them or they are able to start kind of from the ground.

[00:33:42] Martial Ganière: Some do, I would say most of them they just bootstrap with nothing.

[00:33:47] They just work from, from their home or from coffee shop there. They cannot even afford the co-working space most of the time. So, you know, when when did. To me like, oh, I want to see startups in your corking space. Like go to coffee shops. You’re starting.

[00:34:05] Niall Mackay: Yeah, that’s true. Right? Yeah. You’re always seeing people like I go to coffee shops, coding, or doing something on a, and it’s way cheaper than that.

[00:34:13] That’s why you see people buy like at 20,000 dong coffee in there for four hours, right on the wifi using their like.

[00:34:20] Martial Ganière: Exactly. You’re monitoring Bitcoins. You know, you see that a lot too as well. So I use, I see a lot of Viet Q coming back to, to build a business here. That’s a good thing too.

[00:34:35] Niall Mackay: And is that one of your kind of clientele

[00:34:37] Martial Ganière: base?

[00:34:38] Some of them, yes. More expats, but, but Vietnam, Vietnamese from abroad, they’re coming back to the country and building new business.

[00:34:50] Niall Mackay: Yeah. And the guests that the episode that just came out on the podcast, literally today, she’s, she’s Vietnamese and she’s an entrepreneur. She runs English language schools, and a really interesting, so one of her target audiences is VQ returning to Vietnam and, but teaching them Vietnamese.

[00:35:10] And because again, this is something we’ve touched on, on the podcast and a couple of episodes before is that it’s really fascinating to me. So people who have left Vietnam around 1975 or the proceeding years moved to the U S central donor or any country, even Switzerland settle down. It’s fascinating that the language got frozen in time because they left.

[00:35:33] So they speak fluent Vietnamese, but it never developed past that. So there are certain words that have changed. I know for example, airport is one of them and we can clarify with some of the Vietnamese that are listening afterwards, but I know the airport was one of the words that it’s just a different world than it used to be.

[00:35:50] And so. The, the language that they learn as like first-generation immigrants in another country, the Vietnamese that they learn from the parents, they then come back to Vietnam to reconnect with the roots and they speak a different version of Vietnamese. So she actually, part of her school is to teach modern Vietnamese to these returning the, which I think is a really cool.

[00:36:13] Martial Ganière: Yeah, it’s true that you can tell a, of Q versus a Vietnamese when they speak Vietnamese and there’s, they’re often like look down from, from the, from Vietnamese, from Nicole’s

[00:36:26] Niall Mackay: and that’s what I’ve had the Zoe. Yeah. So w we’ll fast forward now, but we’ll also go back to what you said at the beginning of the podcast.

[00:36:34] You said you’re doing great during a lockdown, which is good to hear, which is good to hear. And, and like you said, as well, you’ve got some perspective and I’m the same. I might log down as not being the worst for me. It’s not much, it’s not fun. It’s not normal life, but I feel very, very lucky for what I do have, but so explain to us then to tell us a little bit about you, you opened up your business came 2012, you had a coworking space.

[00:36:56] As I mentioned at the beginning, tell us kind of like what, how, how did that develop? Just kind of pre locked down and post lockdown. So you don’t need to go back too far, but then. How did it develop like elec 20, 21 to then where you are now?

[00:37:11] Martial Ganière: Yeah, so the big change happened during the first look down March, 2020, where most digital nomads who left the country, they got scared and they just returned to their country.

[00:37:23] And so ever since we opened, it was never the same there’s not enough foreigners in the country to really build a community. Digital nomads. So we’re trying, we were trying to cater to locals, trying to cater to expats here. Not that easy and. The second look down the hits in late may this year.

[00:37:47] And I said, okay, this time, it’s time to give out. It’s time to really focus online because we never know what’s going to happen in the future. We cannot just expect the country to reopen anymore. So that was a big shit. Mindset shifts, I would say. So I did not. The first look down was more of a holy day, but this time it’s like, no, now I’m going to work.

[00:38:10] I’m going to fund finance. I’m going to give out. And I did a first project in the first week of the lockdown for a Swiss startup as a consultant. So there was a great first project. And then I run a few of my storytelling workshop for some. Businesses, both in Vietnam and abroad. And I developed my course.

[00:38:31] I have more clients now because it’s word of mouth, you know, the first clients and being able to examine are happy. So now they’re referring me more clients. So I’m making more money during this lockdown than I did in the last year. You know? So. No. I see a brighter future online, which I was quite reluctant in the past because for a community, I like the, you know, I like meeting people in person and like physical events, but now I think we have to go online and if we can, we’re going to do offline events.

[00:39:08] Niall Mackay: Now. That’s great to hear. And Yeah. It’s one of these things when you’re put under a certain amount of pressure, like good things can happen. Right. And I know maybe some people even listening right now might be like, oh, you’re making more money now. But I, that’s obviously not a bad thing. And throughout I knew throughout history, if you go back to like the great depression and the was a 1918, maybe I’ve got my dates wrong there, but the great depression in the U S even the 2008 financial crisis, even the world was, there’s always winners and losers.

[00:39:37] Right. There’s always people that come a of it stronger and better. And I do think it’s partly. Well, some companies it’s, it’s maybe luck being in the right position at the right time, but also like having that determination to be like, okay, well, this is the hand up being Dell. This is how I’m going to deal with it.

[00:39:54] And then making the best of that situation. I know, even for myself, with this lockdown for 7 million bakes. I mean, we do events. We put on like comedy shows and quiz nights and it was like, okay, they all stopped. And we thought it would only be for a month and then we’d be back to normal. And luckily we just did one quiz night.

[00:40:12] I literally thought it would just be one quiz night and then we’d be back to normal. I was like, I’ll do it online. And no we’ve done like 14 of them. We have a regular community of people that come and enjoy it and get value from it and enjoy seeing other people I mean, no being hired by. Working with other businesses to do quiz nights and events for them all on lane.

[00:40:34] And and I do think it just comes from when you it’s, like, I know it’s such a cheesy analogy, but like, you know, you put some pressure on carbon and then it becomes a diamond, right? So there’s a, when things happen and landscapes, landscapes change, then good can come over. True.

[00:40:51] Martial Ganière: Exactly. So, yeah, I, I could not it’s that I’m really lucky.

[00:40:54] I’m really grateful. I do have space. I’m not in a tiny apartment. I do have a garden. So that helps a lot, but also being able to work online. Because I’ve done that for, for more than 15 years, almost 20 years. So it was easy for me to, to jump back online. I have a big network, both in Switzerland and here.

[00:41:18] So having the network, the network is key. I think if you have a good network, if you have friends the day, you need to make some money online, I think it’s easier. It’s better. Awesome. So before we move on, I’m going to ask you the final questions that I ask everyone at the end of that season seven right now, which this is going to be part of.

[00:41:37] Niall Mackay: So tell everyone wat what’s the future then for what? What’s I don’t even think we’ve talked about the name of your company. What’s the name of your company? What’s the future of what’s going to happen after the, well, what’s going to happen after this log done? Cause you’ve just talked about how you’ve done a massive pivot to move online.

[00:41:52] What’s going to happen when you can actually meet in person. And we were allowed to go outside.

[00:41:59] Martial Ganière: Yes. So my company is called spiced as in spiced up and You know, I, we were based in district one back in the days when I took over the coworking space and had so many problems problems with the landlord as a lot of people may me know.

[00:42:17] And so I had envision a business model where. You don’t have any space, but you partner with existing co-working space and co-living spaces, and you provide them with community activities, events, and courses, coaching, and so on. So now. After two dub downs, I raise a K. That was not a bad idea. So I’m going to develop the non-line community, launching online courses.

[00:42:44] The first one in October, I’m launching the first word. On October 5th on storytelling and how to clarify your message. So customers understand what you do and pay attention to your message. So that’s going to be the first course, October and more course following up. And I’m going to have a mafia coach coaching session live as well for the attendees of the courses.

[00:43:12] And I want to partner with coworking spaces, not just here, but I’m already in touch in Singapore. And other countries so that we can have a bit of a network for entrepreneurs and my mission where, you know, with those courses, it’s to help people make more money smarter by working less, more efficiently having automated sales online so that they don’t have to work crazy and they can have a better life.

[00:43:38] Niall Mackay: Yeah. Cause I read that’s a great thing to do. Cause I read something recently, one of the The biggest mistakes that entrepreneurs make as they just make a job for themselves, instead of making a business where they can do, do less and have more free time. All they do is just even something that would create more work for themselves.

[00:43:57] Right.

[00:43:58] Martial Ganière: True. And I know a lot about this. It’s, it’s very hard to delegate into a tomato. You just like do everything yourself, and then you burn out, which happened to me in the.

[00:44:10] Niall Mackay: Yeah, for sure. All right. So we’re going to move on to the final questions that I ask everyone. And then for everyone who’s still listening.

[00:44:17] Thank you so much. We’re going to do the move into a Q and a, or even just a comment section. So I’ll put it back into like a gallery mode and we can see everyone. And then you have, please feel free to ask questions. So the first question, which is relevant to a lockdown right now, if you could get on a motorbike or on the back of a motorbike, if you don’t drive one yourself and you could go anywhere, right this second, where would you get.

[00:44:40] Martial Ganière: I would go straight to the beach. I need nature. I miss it. A beach would be my first idea. My first destination, I could consider a countryside nature.

[00:44:52] Niall Mackay: No, no, you can’t go to dental out on a muso bay. Well, you can, but that’s a bit of a trip. Literally, I mean the beach phone towers. Okay. I don’t mean, like I asked this question to when and she was like, yeah, I go to my hometown of and I was like, that’s like a three-day trip.

[00:45:06] No, I just mean like, you jump on, like, you go downstairs, you jump on your bike. We’re cause right now we can’t do that. We can’t even do the simple thing of jumping on our date. So let’s even make it narrow than the beach. If you could just go jump on your bike right there. Second, where would you go at 8 57.

[00:45:24] Martial Ganière: Maybe in my friend’s restaurant,

[00:45:26] Niall Mackay: which, which

[00:45:27] Martial Ganière: is, I have to think too many. I miss that.

[00:45:33] Niall Mackay: That’s a good one. I know just a new one as well. That’s a great one. All right. So I think you’ve maybe already answered this, but can you maybe narrow it down to just one thing? What’s been the one best thing about this lockdown for you?

[00:45:46] Martial Ganière: I think it’s my cat giving birth to four kittens.

[00:45:49] Niall Mackay: Wow. 40

[00:45:51] Martial Ganière: times during look down. Yeah. You

[00:45:52] Niall Mackay: frisky cat, you got mail, then she’s been your cat’s been going out getting more busy than you have.

[00:45:58] All right. What has been the most challenging thing about LA. I think it was

[00:46:03] Martial Ganière: to tune to that new rhythm and mostly exercising. So during the first part of the log down, we could still go out. I would go for walks every night and now I’m really missing that. So I’m trying to do stretching and exercising, you know, every morning, but that’s not as fun as getting outside or going to the gym.

[00:46:24] So that’s my biggest.

[00:46:26] Niall Mackay: I just, I’ve started doing some yoga videos online. Annie, you’ll be proud of me. And it’s quite funny because I just want to do like some yoga. I just want to do some stretches and she’s there. What was it? The comment that I do, like, so I’ve found this video that I quite like, because it’s quite easy stretches and stuff like that.

[00:46:43] And she’s like, okay, so today you’re going to find your authentic self. I think I already am my authentic self. So who the fuck am I going to find? And then today the other one was, she’s like, you know, we’re going to stretch the hips. There’s a lot of tension in the hips. A lot of our emotional tension is in the hips and I’m like, I’m emotionally tense.

[00:47:06] I didn’t really, I didn’t know. My hips had all my emotions in there, but so if that’s a new one, I landed as well. I got a lot of emotional tension in my hips and a, you can make a comment about that afterwards. Any, I can’t see you right now, but you’re probably like what you do. Annie does as a yoga instructor.

[00:47:20] That’s why I’m calling any out. All right. What is it, what in Vietnam has shocked you the most since you’ve been here?

[00:47:28] Martial Ganière: I think it’s a staff living without. That was a huge shock. And especially when they tell you, oh, my grandmother passed away or my grandmother is sick and you don’t even know if it’s true or, you know, and you never hear from them.

[00:47:43] They just block you on Facebook. They block you on Skype, never hear them from them. So that was a big

[00:47:48] Niall Mackay: shock. I’ve heard that, especially from restaurant tools, that the biggest challenge is finding good staff and a similar thing, because they will just literally disappear on you. The. So I think that’s a common thing, which is unfortunate.

[00:48:03] And then last question. What in Vietnam has pleasantly surprised you.

[00:48:09] Martial Ganière: I think it’s that entrepreneurship entrepreneurial spirits that is in the culture. So when I first arrived here, I was like, really? Wow. They, they run the businesses and every houses and even, you know, my stepdad had full-time job.

[00:48:24] They would do gigs on the side and their parents would run the business from home. And, you know, they always trying to make an extra buck. And I think there’s a jump for everyone here. Of course, there’s a bit of an impact. To be fair, but there’s opportunities and jobs for a lot of people here.

[00:48:41] Niall Mackay: Yeah.

[00:48:42] Awesome. Well, so thank you so much Marcy out really good to chat with you. You’re very, very welcome. I’m really enjoying this format. We’ve done. We’ll definitely going to be doing this again then. I excited to do this. So guys, we’re going to open this up now, let me just change it to a gallery view.

[00:48:58] I’ve probably said heaps of controversial comments to those people listening, just ready to like tear me down. This is quite an intimidating format because normally when I do this just at home and it’s just mean the guests and then the episode will go out. And you’re not doing it with people listening to you.

[00:49:15] And I always, I also always know wherever I see, I can edit it out and I’m always terrified of doing a live podcast. So this has been equally fun and terrifying and intimidating at the same time, but I hope everyone’s enjoyed it. I hope you got a good time. I’ve actually really enjoyed this as well. What am I going to do?

[00:49:33] I’ve just put a link in the chat box, 7 million baked. We are building a community, especially here in Saigon. The ex-pat community has been decimated, as we know, probably up in dental and Hanoi, as well as ion here as was the very first ever member of the 7 million bikes community. So thank you so much for Zion for that.

[00:49:53] You can get like a free entry to our events that we do. You’ve got different packages that you can choose. You’ll get free invitation or not free, but you get invitations to extra events that we do. You get bonus content as well. You get content where I mess up, which I don’t share normally with other people as well.

[00:50:10] So you get loads of extra kind of perks and benefits. But the biggest thing we’re trying to do is build that community because we know here in Vietnam, it can be difficult, especially for ex-pats or even Vietnamese that speak English to fix. English entertainments what 7 million bakes is doing is providing that.

[00:50:26] But we also want to bring fun and community and laughter and bring people together. And so, as we mentioned at the beginning, just seeing everyone here today, even on a zoom call is, is really amazing. So thank you so much, everyone for joining us tonight. So we will now open to questions. So raise your hand, shout out, Tanya camera’s on Tanya may cough and any questions then go.