Nhip Cau Dau Tu – Vietnamese Business Magazine emphasizes the high potential tech start-up of Greenhandshake to immigrant communities in US


Greenhandshake connects immigrant communities in the US

“Each year more than 1 million immigrants come to America. But now, Greenhandshake is the first place that listens and connects the immigrants to the people they need”, Son Nguyen said.

Bloomberg News is introducing a new utility for immigrants. Greenhandshake.com is the technology start-up model that helps to connect immigrant communities who are living in the US with immigrants from other countries all over the world. Through Greenhandshake, newcomers can ask fellow countrymen to support first difficulties such as visa procedures, consulting for choosing schools for children or even airport transportation. Based on a sharing economic model, Greenhandshake will charge a fee for each service. However, the Greenhandshake’s fee is lower than other consulting companies because it is done via auction.

Operating in December 2014, Greenhandshake has already gathered more than 1,000 Vietnamese national residents from 50 states, including Hawaii and Alaska. Although Greenhandshake has never been broadcast outside of the US, this model always receives over 10 requests from new immigrants and students every month. According to Son Hoang Nguyen, Founder of Greenhandshake, his start-up has absolutely believed in its potential development in the long term. “Each year more than 1 million immigrants come to America. But now, Greenhandshake is the first place that listens and connects the immigrants to the people they need”, Son Nguyen said.

Only immigrants can truly understand each other

Greenhandshake was established from Son Nguyen’s experiences on the immigrating route to America. In 2009, Son Nguyen came to America alone for his Master’s degree and was determined to set up a business here. At that time, Son Nguyen took all means possible to prepare for the long trip. As many other students, he learned about the United States through three channels: internet forums, Facebook and a consulting company. On forums and Facebook, any questions often got a lot of answers, but were hardly authentic source. “I was confused with gloomy ​​information on Facebook and forums, so finally I had to take a lot of money looking for the consulting company”, Son Nguyen remembered.

According to Son Nguyen, because the consultants hadn’t had experience in overseas study and were concerned only with documents, they hardly provided useful information despite charging a lot of money. Due to many unplanned problems arising, it took a while to adjust to his new life when he moved to California. In order to immigrate to the US, immigrants were limited by many barriers, such as lack of information for a job, sponsors or asking for visa issuance.

“It’s strange that when I said about immigrant’s difficulties, Americans are always surprised. But they encouraged me to do something to help another one”, Son Nguyen remembered.

Therefore, Son invested $50,000 to build Greenhandshake according to sharing economic model in 2014. Different from traditional consulting channels, this start-up takes the part of the connector who classifies and links the newcomers with fellow countryman in the US. Besides being able to consult through the Internet, immigrant communities have opportunities to connect directly with others through a welcome-pick up, tour guide, tutor, etc.

Creative model

Greenhandshake operates similar to a task exchange. In the spirit of community, the group should work (the side who wants the help) will always be higher than the group posted on (the side who needs the help). Therefore, during the first year of operation, Son Nguyen only focused on immigrants who were willing to help their communities.

Eighty percent of the 1,000 current members of Greenhandshake are students at many universities in the US. With 1,000 current members, Son expects to support around 35-40% of requests that are posted on Greenhandshake in the coming months.

Greenhandshake applies a bid format, but competition will not be eliminated entirely. “Based on the proposed price by the buyer, members will bid. But they will not see each other’s prices to override the price down,” Son Nguyen said.

According to him, the low price comes with poor service. However, the members freely proposed the price that they think suitable with quality services provided.

For example, if the service is an airport pickup, the service supplier will get three different prices from the members of Greenhandshake, depending on the means of transportation (bus, car or car comes with the consult for choosing school). After selecting the suitable price, the buyer will be paid through a bank transfer or PayPal. Only when the work is completed and the buyer’s satisfaction is confirmed, will this amount be transferred from Greenhandshake to its recipients. If not, the buyer will be reimbursed 100% of the money. Greenhandshake has just completed the upgrade of a Chinese version; it also intends to boost services, and focuses on the Vietnam, China and Taiwan markets.

In response to questions that Greenhandshake will take profits from 20% retention fees on each completed service, Son Nguyen hesitated, “I just think that taking a 20% fee ​​is enough for maintaining the system, not including profit.” However, he smiled and pointed to the turquoise logo of his start-up. “Two hands grabbed each other in a heart that was the mission I founded Greenhandshake. Lack of money does not kill the model, but this start-up will die without the big heart of the immigrant communities to help each other.”

Doan Hoa – Reporter of Nhipcaudautu.vn

(Translated by Thanh Bui)