January 2017: Life in Vietnam

As a team member, friend or network of the Acacia Team you may of been wondering what the hell are we doing in Vietnam… Well as part of our new ‘Acacia updates blog’ we are going to be giving you the in’s and out’s of the move.

As you follow the blog we will share:

  • Why we have set up an office here in Vietnam
  • Who is involved in the Vietnamese team
  • How this development is going to benefit the Acacia community
  • What we plan to be doing in the next 3 - 6 months here in Vietnam
  • Some of the challenges of working remotely in Vietnam
  • Also some of the fun we have been getting up to


 

Why we have set up an office here in Vietnam?

Happy to be working on some great projects

Happy to be working on some great projects

The journey to Vietnam starts with the pressure of the cold and dark Melbourne winter combined with the our growing US client base, driving a decision for me (Oliver Du Rieu) to plan a trip to America in pursuit of setting up an office and team. To avoid this turning into a travel blog about how I moved around whilst working from LA to Las Vegas and New York then up to Toronto, Vancouver and eventually departing to Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam from San Fransisco I am going to jump into the reasoning behind setting up in Vietnam.

 

In part the purpose of my trip to the US was to discover some new opportunities along with refining our local work assets and... that is what happened. When I was in New York I was proposed a part time consulting role leading a marketing campaign to help a Vietnamese company raise venture finance from local Vietnamese investors who are looking to invest in the US.

I accepted the offer as I could see it a great opportunity to both do some consulting on the side and focus on growing our internal Acacia team, whilst leveraging the strong Australian dollar & the USD in a developing Asian country like Vietnam.

It was an unknown for me before doing my research into it but Vietnam and especially the Saigon (Ho Chi Min City) area much like other areas in SE Asia has an extremely exciting and fast paced environment with many tech companies highlighting the area as a great place to hire outsourced skilled labour.

OD enjoying a Vietnamese iced coffee

OD enjoying a Vietnamese iced coffee

From my experience working with outsourcing in the past and it now a key factor in any professional services business to be capitalising on to be competitive in the market, a long term business goal of Acacia has been to establish an internal workforce which is located in a more favourable economic environment. Doing this is going to enable us to deliver a seriously attractive customer experience from price, technical ability and delivery time frames whilst controlling the outcome from start to finish.

 

 

Who is involved in the team based in Vietnam and what are they doing?

At this stage (as I am writing this) the Acacia team in Vietnam includes, myself (Oliver), Olivier & Chloe is visiting for a couple weeks from our Melbourne office. We are working with some local contractors trialing them to find the right cultural fit before building them into our permanent team to work along side of myself and Olivier.

 

The team here we will grow to both do engineering functions in the business and assist with some of our managed social media accounts. This has come about from the increased demand for the services we have been providing in managed Instagram accounts.

The Vietnam team doing some sightseeing and getting a photo with the Independane Palace guards

The Vietnam team doing some sightseeing and getting a photo with the Independane Palace guards

Over the last 6 months we have been testing different methods of working with clients to solve the problem of people having a great online asset, but lacking the ability to generate sales. “Instagram has been something that we have seen great returns on executing correctly, you can attract a very targeted audience, communicate visually the message you wish and retain an engaged community of potential buyers from a longer life time relationship.”

In the new year 2017 we are launching three different tiered Instagram management packages to suit most businesses needs.

If you are interested in growing your sales, site traffic and social media presence then please feel at home taking a look at this landing page or clicking below to see more details on these instagram management packages.

 

How is our presence in Vietnam going to benefit our customers?

Oliver & Olivier working hard in the office

Oliver & Olivier working hard in the office

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you wish to look at it) there has been some bad stigma around contracting offshore web services, this is actually how Acacia has grow into more than just a web development agency and now have the purpose to help people build a great business rather than just a purposeless website.

For those who haven’t been burnt by an offshore developer or worked remotely below is a typical experience outlined:

  • Post job on outsource platform (Upwork, Freelancer, etc)
  • Get 10’s, 20’s or 100’s of applicants
  • As an inexperienced client you’ll generally go for the cheapest - most likely Indian, Bangladesh or Chinese.
  • You share your job description, probably skype or at least chat back and forth.
  • They will promise you the outcome that you want.
  • It will take weeks of your time and the time zone difference will be a pain in the ass.
  • You will get frustrated at the product that you are trying to build and the freelancer will keep asking for more money as your undefined requirements change.
  • You end up spending weeks making tiny little adjustments to something that should've been a 2 or 3 day job.
  • By the end of the experience you have a website/web asset that you have know idea how to use or edit, it isn’t what you initially expected and you have spent almost as much as you would of contracting someone in your home country.
  • You end up being ashamed of the service you experienced and end up thinking about web development agencies with a bad taste in your mouth.

^^ This is a typical experience, but there are obviously outliers being good experiences and a lot worse that that.

Being in Vietnam will enable Acacia to deliver a more competitive price for our services whilst, still owning the outcome of each project we do from start to finish as always. For our lifestyle businesses this is going to be a massive hand in the early stages.


 

The plan for the next 3 - 6 months in Vietnam?

Over the next three to six months in Vietnam we are aiming to grow our team of 3 here to 8 opening up more room to cater for managing more social media accounts and helping more businesses CRUSH it, closing more sales and generating more traffic.

We are currently based in a Co-working space in the city center of Ho Chi Minh City, but may look to find somewhere where we can strengthen the Acacia environment and potentially a kitchen for making Banh Mi at lunch time.

Oliver buying an ice cream off the street

Oliver buying an ice cream off the street

It is quite an exciting city and a lot of opportunity for many different business opportunities, whilst we are based here as part of the Acacia broader community feel free to reach out if you are on your way through Vietnam as we would love to host you in the office or at least catch up for a meal.

 

What is it like in Vietnam?

Incase you are thinking of moving to Vietnam to set up a business or you are looking to work remotely after reading this update I thought I would share some of what it is like to be here in Saigon and touch on a couple points that may be interesting when setting up here.

 

Adapting to Ho Chi Minh City:

In general the city is quite clean in relation to other Asian big cities, the pollution (Noise, Air and rubbish) is a problem, you can’t do to much about this other than try and live somewhere quiet and maybe wear a dust mask when walking around.
Living expenses are what I have found at about ⅓ - ¼ of what they were for the equivalent of being based in Melbourne, with some particular items being ridiculously cheaper than Australia. For example last night we went out for dinner at a Vegetarian restaurant and paid $15AUD for three people’s meals and drinks, the same in the CBD of Melbourne would be around $80.

 

Hiring staff and finding a place to work:

The ‘Digital Nomad/Co-working’ environment is definitely growing in Saigon, with places to work and resources to tap into for office spaces to be relatively easy to access through a simple search on google.

We have been working at Big Work Saigon for our office space and liaising with a couple different companies to find staff here - please feel free to reach out if you would like some contacts upon your move here if you are planning it.

Some noodles from Healthy Farm in HCMC

Some noodles from Healthy Farm in HCMC

There are many other spaces to work from as a solo digital nomad, including coffee shops and other co-working spaces.

 

Recreation and downtime:

Funnily enough after two weeks of being here I had found two things to do in the little down time I have had, one being playing AFL (yes, Australian Rules Football) little would you know but there is about 18 different team scattered around Asia and one of them being the Vietnam Swans. I have been training with the team and even went on a footy tournament trip for the ‘Indo/China Cup in Myanmar’. I have also join a kickboxing gym which is run by a local crew to keep the fitness up.
Apart from that the nightlife in Saigon is something definitely to be experienced, if you are up for it any night of the week you will find a party on either one of the many many rooftop clubs, bars and restaurants or a busy dinner experience from one of the street vendors.