Vietnamese 8X is on American newspaper thanks to this creative model which connects immigrant community – Dantri.com.vn
- by- admin
- 14 Oct 2015
An America’s prestige newspaper, Bloomberg once introduced a new utility, useful for immigrants around the world to America, named Greenhandshake. The founder of this model is Son Nguyen – a Vietnamese man
The idea to start a business comes from personal impasse
Son Hoang Nguyen graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Informatics and Computer Engineering from Russian State Technological University and moved to the US to pursue a Master’s in Business Administration specializing in Information Technology Management and International Business, at California Lutheran University in 2009.
After graduation, Son once participated in product development technology with Harvard University and experienced, through a number of industries such as import-export, e-commerce and finance, before starting the business, Greenhandshake.
The idea of founding Greenhandshake – a community network connecting the United States with people immigrating overseas to the US, formed when he decided to stay in America to work as he faced numerous barriers in paperwork as well as lack of information.
As a student, sources of information mainly came from friends, but this time, Son realized that everyone was in the same situation with him, and could only try to share pieces of experience they collected by themselves.
“When you have to start integrating with a completely new life, new lands and new language … then even the tiniest things sometimes became difficult. Lack of information is the most dangerous thing. Then I wonder, is there any way to find someone who had walked the same road with you that can share his experiences, procedures, etc., ” Son said.
At that time, the Vietnamese boy immediately thought of a certain paid service for procedure advisory, because in the long term, it would help to save lots of time and money. But he could not see any current services which could meet that need.
Thus, Son rushed to fulfill his dream to build a Vietnamese product to become an effective tool for immigrant communities in the United States from countries all over the world.
In 2014, Son invested $50,000 to build Greenhandshake using the model of sharing business. Unlike traditional advisory channels, this model has played a mediating role in classifying and connecting fellow newcomers in America.
Besides consulting on various topics over the Internet, immigrant communities also have the opportunity to connect directly with each other through real-life jobs such as transportation, tour guide, tutor, etc. Once in the United States, immigrants need help with even the simple things, such as airport transfers, driver’s licenses, university enrollment procedures, studying advice, etc., to immigration paperwork problems.
Although Greenhandshake has been running for almost one year, it has gathered more than 1,000 members covering all 50 states, including Hawaii and Alaska. Although it was never promoted outside of the US, every month this model received more than 10 requests to help new immigrants and students outside of the US.
The model would be “dead” without the sharing method
As a completely new model, when Son Hoang Nguyen founded Greenhandshake, he had to start from scratch. There were many concerns for Son, such as outsourced algorithms; how to connect immigrants back and manage them in general; how they were to pay; or how to manage participants comfortably and safely as well. There were times when the website was almost complete, but there was still an error in a certain step. Son had to correct all of that from the start.
Another major difficulty was capital. Initially, Son had come to the US company’s IT to seek support, but they required a lot of money for the start-up project up front. IT companies in Vietnam did not want to take a risk with a new project like this either.
Greenhandshake is appreciated because every year in the US there are thousands of new ideas. It was born to serve everyone, but there have been no technology products dedicated to serve the immigrant community, whether those immigrants are Americans and they are sensitive subjects, or if they need help the most.
This network brings to light new ideas that should become infectious to other companies, such as the sharing of help for those that need it. On the other hand, Greenhandshake can also offset the deficiencies of the non-profit models.
Son give an example, “I’d love to put matters such as, someone greets me at the airport and directs the way to rental accommodation is normal, but when it comes to money, both helpers and people in need of help are very cautious in this matter.”
People who help find it embarrassing to suggest payment in cash; they also help with willingness and do not know how much money is enough, and the people who need help suffer the risk of authentication information. They do not know the helpers or how to behave. Therefore, there should be an intermediary standing between to handle this matter.”
Explaining the name Greenhandshake, Son explained: Greenhandshake is made up of two words: “green” and “handshake“. “Green” symbolizes the color green, which is a symbol of youth and hope and familiar to immigrants in America as the Green Card – a symbol of freedom; and “handshake” as a symbol of cooperation.
“I chose the word handshake. Throughout history, handshake is the culture of both the East and the West as a symbol of cooperation. And I think it fits the criteria of Greenhandshake, which is an appreciated collaboration and sharing. Lacking of money cannot kill this model. But this model will die without helping mindset of the immigrant community, ” Son confirmed.
Talking about the initially successful entrepreneur story in America, Son, said, “Many people say I cannot afford the money or I will give many reason to delay. But I think that it is because they are lack of ambition. If we really love or passion with the work, these barriers can be erased.”
Starting a business is not about chasing that business or project immediately, even when their project is lacking of capital and experience. It is about how you concern and manage to find the most viable solutions for this situation and try your best ways to make it come true .”
Le Thu – Reporter of Dantri.com.vn
(Translated by Thanh Bui)