While Vietnam's domestic market for information technology is worth only about US$2 billion, the value of the global market for this technology is more than US$1,800 billion. Therefore, many IT startups and companies in Vietnam are actively looking for ways to bring their products to international customers, and some of them have been successful so far.
Currently, the virtual robot ‘akaBot’, developed by the company of the same name, is being used in various places around the world.
akaBot can imitate human activities, helping us to perform simple and repetitive tasks with high accuracy.
Thanks to the virtual robot, productivity can be increased by 80 percent, while 60 percent of costs and 80 percent of working time can be saved.
Outstanding Vietnamese IT startups
At H. Bank, up to 500 applications for setting up a credit account are received every day, and a bank employee has to process them in many steps.
The 13 bank employees who usually deal with this process could be replaced by akaBot, which can do this task automatically, reducing the time for the whole process from 15 minutes to just five minutes.
According to Bui Dinh Giap, founder and CEO of akaBot, the automatic solution for a professional process should primarily become a product for export by the development team.
The startup hopes that over time, akaBot will become one of the best automated solutions in the world.
AkaBot is a type of robotic process automation (RPA), which is software that automates tasks within business and IT processes via software scripts that emulate human interaction with the application's user interface.
Trying to target the largest customers in the most developed markets in the world is the business strategy presented by Bui Dinh Giap.
According to him, if you manage to sell your products in the demanding markets like the U.S., you can have enough confidence to reach all other markets in the world.
Of course, it is said that when it comes to entering a vast ocean, you have to deal with big waves.
“The very first and very big problem for us is brand,” said the CEO of akaBot, revealing that their product was rejected by over 30 companies in the first few days.
“We have no choice but to find solutions to improve our brand by appearing in global ranking indexes,” Giap said.
Their efforts, which have been ongoing since 2021 until now, have led to many successes.
Despite being rejected by 30 customers, akaBot is among the top 5 in the global software ranking index for RPA, according to G2, the largest software marketplace with more than 80 million users per year, as stated on the company’s website.
In addition, akaBot is among the top 20 RPA platforms worldwide as ranked by Gartner, a research and advisory firm founded in 1979 and headquartered in Stamford, which provides insights and solutions in many areas of IT and advises its clients on developing strategies, selecting technologies, and implementing them in their organizations.
Over time, an app developed by a Vietnamese team can eventually write its own success story by competing with internationally known brand names in automation such as UiPath RPA Platform and JIFFY.ai.
"It is the startup’s customer service that plays an important role in making akaBot a popular brand name. Many customers are afraid that the life cycle of a technological product is very short,” Giap said.
To reassure them, akaBot focuses on improving product features and constantly adds innovative technologies to extend the product's life cycle.
Last but not least is the cost of competition.
In the initial stage, Vietnamese startups often have the advantage of offering solutions with low costs, good systems, and fast times to market.
However, when the ecosystem of the product grows rapidly, the cost may not be as competitive as in the early days.
To solve this problem, akaBot invests in product quality and tries to constantly improve the features that help them develop and expand.
Not only akaBot, but also many other Vietnamese startups are aiming for global expansion. For them, entering a global market also means striving to put Vietnam on the world map of technology.
Do Quoc Truong, founder of Vietnam Artificial Intelligence Solutions (VAIS), a deep-tech company developing innovative and proprietary AI algorithms and solutions for use in climate-smart agriculture and geospatial intelligence, recalled the booming time of digital transformation in 2018 and 2019: “We realized that the market then needed an innovative core technology with an excellent outlook on converting speech to text that can be used in a smart conference room.”
Instead of finding answers in existing solutions, the founders of VAIS decided to find a niche market for their products that did not compete with big tech companies like Google or Microsoft.
Currently, VAIS has its first customers coming from Germany, the UK, and other countries.
The desire to make robots companions to humans
With a total of nearly 30 employees,the CEO of VAIS said it will focus on finding solutions to improve productivity rather than hiring more employees.
VAIS is a rare Vietnamese startup that can already make profits in its second year of operation.
In the near future, Truong said, the interaction between robots and humans must become more natural.
After all, if a person knows he or she is talking to a robot, he or she will no longer be willing to talk.
At the same time, Giap, the founder of akaBot, said his team is aiming for solutions where humans and robots can support each other, and workers can be relieved of repetitive tasks.
By 2023, akaBot has deployed its virtual robots to cover operations and tasks for more than 3,500 companies in more than 20 countries around the world.
Among them are more than 500 foreign customers, mainly from Europe, the Americas, Central Asia, and Asia-Pacific.
According to some experts, many Vietnamese startups have focused heavily on exports. Some of them have succeeded in opening branches abroad, thus gaining a source of foreign exchange.
If such companies could be supported by the authorities through appropriate policies, Vietnam would likely have great tech companies in the future.