The Entrepreneurship Seminar with the theme of “Born Globals: Scaling Startups beyond Borders” aims to unlock Southeast Asian entrepreneurial potential that can change the world. We will gather young leaders who will learn and work on expanding a mission-driven startup across ASEAN member states & Timor Leste and potentially beyond. The combination of online engagement sessions and a week-long in-person seminar/workshops will be high-speed, ultra-meaningful, and prepare the fellows for the Start or Expansion of an international new venture.

The seminar will start with 2 engagement sessions online and continue with a 1-week seminar series in-person in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam from September 24 – October 1, 2022 (5 working days).

Applications are now being accepted until July 29th. Young professionals from across ASEAN and Timor-Leste who are between the ages of 25-35 (no previous YSEALI experience required) or between the ages of 36-40 (YSEALI alumni status required) are encouraged to apply.

If you want to learn more about our seminar, do join our Information Session Webinar on July 22! The YSEALI Academy team will answer questions, and tips on applying for prospective candidates.

👉 Apply at:

👉 For more information of the Seminar, access

Southeast Asia can pride itself on having increased the number of startups and entrepreneurial activities. Yet, scaling these startups to solidly profitable levels has been a challenge. Partly because Southeast Asian home market is so diverse: so many countries, so many cultures, so many religions, languages, political systems, currencies, so many different regulations, so many different institutions.

This YSEALI Academy’s seminar on Born Globals focuses on learning unique startup capabilities that allow them to rapidly expand internationally. If you want to be part of this movement for a more regionally and globally connected startup culture, our next Entrepreneurship Seminar is for you!

The YSEALI Academy at Fulbright University Vietnam will host young professional from across ASEAN member states and Timor-Leste to explore and discuss about the Born Globals together. The seminar will start with 2 engagement sessions online and continue with a 1-week seminar series in-person in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam from September 24 – October 1, 2022.

Applications are now being accepted until July 29th. Young professionals from across ASEAN and Timor-Leste who are between the ages of 25-35 (no previous YSEALI experience required) or between the ages of 36-40 (YSEALI alumni status required) are encouraged to apply.

Apply at:

If you want to learn more about our seminar, do join our Information Session Webinar on July 15! The YSEALI Academy team will answer questions, and tips on applying for prospective candidates.

Follow us at:

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam — The YSEALI Academy at Fulbright University Vietnam (hereinafter the YSEALI Academy) officially announced the launch of its Entrepreneurship Seminar titled “The Born Globals: Scaling Startups beyond Borders”. This seminar is now open for applications until July 29, 2022.

Launched in 2020, the YSEALI Academy’s main mission is to build capacity and enhance leadership skills for young professionals ages 25-40 from across Southeast Asia and Timor-Leste. Each year, the YSEALI Academy offers four seminars on Public Policy, Technology & Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

The 2022 Entrepreneurship Seminar on Born Globals: Scaling Startups beyond Borders is a 1-week in-person seminar series preceded by two online engagement sessions geared towards young professionals who are (or are planning) to hone their skills to grow new ventures internationally.

The combination of online engagement sessions and a week-long in-person seminar/workshops will be high-speed, ultra-meaningful, and prepare the fellows for the Start or Expansion of an international new venture. At its core will be an action-based hackathon complemented by lectures, panel discussions, and coaching sessions from a carefully selected group of faculty and mentors. Participants have a chance to build conceptual business solutions for pressing societal problems across borders, and finally, pitch their plans before VCs and business angels. This seminar will unlock Southeast Asian entrepreneurial potential that can change the world.

The Entrepreneurship Seminar on “The Born Globals: Scaling Startups beyond Borders” will be opened to YSEALI Academy fellows who are young professionals between the ages of 25-40, highly qualified and motivated, from all 10 ASEAN member countries and Timor-Leste. Once selected, all participants will be fully funded by the U.S. Department of State to attend the seminar.

Seminar schedule:

  • Enrollment: July 7 – July 29, 2022
  • Announcement of Result: August 18, 2022
  • Seminar dates:
    • September 20 – 22: Online Engagement Session
    • September 24 – October 1: In-person Seminar in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

To apply:

Southeast Asia can pride itself on having more and more startups and entrepreneurial activities. Yet, scaling these startups internationally has been a challenge, partly because of the very diverse Southeast Asian home market. Learning from Born Globals can help to overcome these external obstacles. Born Globals are known for their unique startup capabilities to rapidly expand across borders: global leadership, adaptability, networking capacity, and innovative business models. If you want to be part of this movement for a more regionally and globally connected startup culture, our next Entrepreneurship Seminar is for you!”, Willem Smit, Ph.D., Lead Faculty for Entrepreneurship of YSEALI Academy.

As you are aware, Southeast Asia is one of the most entrepreneurial regions on this planet. There are over 70 Million micro, small and medium sized enterprises in Southeast Asia, which contribute to over 50% of the regional GDP. It is fair to say that entrepreneurship runs deep in our societies. You, as the young talents of Southeast Asia, will play a crucial part in shaping the regional ecosystem and solving the most pressing problems in our modern society. Despite the huge talent pool in Southeast Asia and the growth in capital, it has been historically challenging for Southeast Asian startups to scale beyond national boundaries or even establish themselves globally. Why has this scaling process been so hard and how can we enable it? This fascinating question lies at the heart of our upcoming Entrepreneurship Seminar on “Born Globals: Scaling Startups beyond Borders”.

“In order to tackle this question, we must engage in a dialogue that features stakeholders from different backgrounds in business, academia, and leadership. Be part of this exciting dialogue, which promises to yield insights that will help you cross boundaries on your entrepreneurial journey!”, Ha Thi Hoang, MD, PhD, Director of YSEALI Academy.

Professor Muhammad Yunus said the pandemic has stopped the train that would lead people to the destination of destruction, urging youngers to change its course.

Covid has exposed all the weaknesses that we have in our system. And we’ll be seeing them very vividly,” Professor Yunus, who in 2006 was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Grameen Bank that he set up, said in a virtual talk on Friday.

The event is called “Unleashing the Power of Entrepreneurship: The Way to Create a World of Three Zeros“, hosted by the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Academy at Fulbright University Vietnam.

Nobel peace laureate Muhammad Yunus speaks at the Trust Women conference in London, UK, November 2014. Photo by Reuters

Speaking to YSEALI members, Yunus stated that Covid has made millions of people lose their income significantly and they are pressed down. Consequently, they are pushed back into poverty that they were out of before the pandemic. For example, a person who has $100 a day could fall into the $50, $5, or $2 index of the poverty line and do not have any wealth.

At the same time, one percent of the world population owns 99 percent of the wealth and it is increasing, they have gained trillions of dollars during the pandemic.

Yunus stressed Covid has revealed that the gap between the poor and the rich in the world is expanding, which was created by the economic system before the pandemic erupted. That gap could generate an “explosive society”, exploding into anger sooner or later, and people are sitting on a ticking time bomb.

He said that kind of society is one of the ultimate disasters brought by an economic machine that people have been pursuing, which could be called “a bullet train”.

At present, when Covid has stopped that economic machine, people are worried about the collapse, fearing that it is not working anymore. However, Yunus saw that the train may take people to destruction has stopped. Therefore, they should celebrate it because people are “not heading for the suicidal part anymore.”

“Covid gave us an opportunity to get off the train, and decide which way to go.”

At this time, as everybody is trying to go back to the pre-pandemic situation, the train is restarting again, Yunus asked young people following his speech, “should we go back to it and ride it to the final destination of destruction? or we don’t ride it and build a new train to take us to a new direction?” He said a new train that brings happiness and safety to this planet should be built.

“And I have been trying to draw the attention of the young people to this issue.”

Prof. Muhammad Yunus in an engaging Q&A session moderated by Dr. Hoang Ha Thi (Lead Faculty of Entrepreneurship at YSEALI Academy)

The principle of profit maximization need to be eliminated

Yunus highlighted that the expanding gap between the wealthy and the impoverished is generated from the common goal of profit maximization, and that goal is set in economic theory.

According to that theory, Covid vaccine producers are building a wall of profit around their products. They raise the question: why should I give vaccines to others? I will give it to where I can maximize profit. For that reason, vaccine manufacturers do not listen to the request of waiving intellectual property rights, to allow vaccines to be produced in many places to save lives.

Similarly, profit maximization is the cause of other current problems in the mentioned “bullet train” that people are on, such as global warming.

Economists describe human beings as someone driven by self-interest but Yunus does not agree with them. He said it is just one aspect, the basic feature of human beings is the common interest. Therefore, each one should be described as an entity, which is driven by self interest as well as collective interest, including economic equality and global warming.

Yunus urged people to undo the old principle, to create a new kind of world where profit maximization is not the only way to do business.

“With that new world, people put their capacity to solve collective problems for common interests.”

the gioi ba khong anh 1

Source: Philosophie

The youth should not be trained as job seekers

Yunus stressed that people are having an education system treating them as job seekers. Schools say that with their certificates, receivers could be hired in the fastest way and get high payment.

Nonetheless, the moment a person gets a job, his or her process of creative capacity unleashing stops because people are driven by instructions or orders of the employers which are not their choices.

Yunus believed that human beings are packed with unlimited creative capacity and the life journey is about unleashing it. People could solve their own problems.

He recalled the fairy tale of a genie being put in a bottle, tightly packed, and thrown away. It is only when somebody takes it and opens up the bottle, the genie comes out. He compared the existing education system to a bottle that contains the “genie of human beings”. With that, people work for somebody in a tiny bottle.

“For that reason, I encouraged the college admission system to liberate young people, allowing them to imagine what they want to do.”

Responding to a question of a Vietnamese attendee about how the education system should be in the future, Yunus said it should be redesigned to help young people to turn into entrepreneurs.

He is confident that human beings are all born as entrepreneurs, but somehow economic theory has pushed people into a belief that only with good education and good skills, they are employable, otherwise they have no values.

He suggested that schools give two options to students, a job seeker, and an entrepreneur. If someone wants to change track, he or she can be free to do that. In this way, students could start a business when they are in school,

“Education system must include courses for students to imagine the world that they want to build.”

A chance to build a new road

Yunus stressed that with the appearance of Covid, young people now have a choice to make a big decision of “do they want to go back to the referred train, the old road?” If not, they have to build a new road to a new destination.

He said he believes the new direction towards “the target of three zeros” which were raised in his book published in 2018, is still valid. They are zero wealth concentration, zero unemployment, and zero net carbon emissions.

Three Zeros: zero wealth concentration, zero unemployment, and zero net carbon emissions

Accordingly, eliminating the principle of profit maximization could help people to achieve the goal of zero wealth concentration, and zero net carbon emissions, meaning there will be no global warming. Human life is about creating a better planet and handing it over to the next generation.

In fact, Yunus said there was an inventor, Jonas Salk, who devoted the formula of polio vaccine, which helped make the disease disappear. Salk said he created vaccines to solve problems and save people, his products would be like sunshine and nobody owns sunshine.

Answering a question from a participant in Indonesia about how to have a fairer economic status in the coming time, Yunus said people need to redesign economic theory, which should be based on human values, not money-making values. The story of profit from vaccines is the matter of millions of people who might die.

Additionally, Yunus encourages people to develop a social business that could be helpful for people who wish to be entrepreneurs. If everybody could become entrepreneurs, they can keep their own wealth and there will not be wealth concentration.

In reality, Yunus created Grameen Bank that does not demand collateral and lawyers, lending a tiny amount of money to women in rural areas in Bangladesh with existing over 9 million women as customers. The model now has been working in some countries in Europe, and the biggest one is running in the United States called Grameen America. It covers 17 cities with 27 branches, with 160,000 borrowers, all are women. The initial loan is $100,000 and the repayment date is over 99.5 percent.

Yunus stated that with Covid, people are at a crossroads in the future, choosing which road to go.

“Please don’t get back to the bullet train,” he told the young audience.

Viet Anh

Earlier this Fall, Fulbright University Vietnam was delighted to partner with Yale-NUS College and leading partners in the field of Entrepreneurship and Innovation to host the Fulbright Innovation Week 2021. The event fostered entrepreneurial mindset and innovation culture among Vietnamese students via Virtual Start-up Showcase, equipped them with hands-on knowledge via Entrepreneurship Seminar Series, and cultivated creativity alongside practical problem-solving skills via a Hackathon, which took the students venturing into the region’s toughest challenges.

Inspire and be inspired

Fulbright Innovation Week 2021 attracted more than 400 diverse registrations across 38 cities and provinces in Vietnam, from high school students to fresh graduates. The Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI), the main organizer of this event series, was faced with some tough decisions in choosing the booth presenters from a pool of extraordinary applicants with fierce competition.

Although the whole week happened virtually, the engagement level still ran high with countless exciting activities. Unlike the typical events with long hours on Zoom that seemingly deplete all of the participants’ energy, Innovation Week took place on various platforms, including Gathertown – cyberspace customized for the Virtual Startup Showcase, which was a refreshing and lifelike experience, as if participants were visiting an actual exhibition.

Here, after a long a rigorous screening process, 17 best student business/startup projects from both Vietnam and Singapore were selected to present at the exhibition. This was a fun playground for students to promote their projects and ideas, acquire new leads, and find potential co-founders and investors. And this works both ways: the participants also got a chance to visit different startup booths, learn more about each startup journey, make new friends and take home some ideas to ponder upon.

Practical launchpad for daring ideas

Following the startup exhibition was the Future Leaders Forum, which was a 2-day intensive training program for student club leaders in Ho Chi Minh city. Students were immersed in a packed schedule of exclusive leadership training to create actionable plans after the program, followed by coaching to ensure the plan implementation with the combination of diverse learning approaches such as group discussion, panel discussion, presentation assignment, and interactive brainstorm and reflection.

Beyond training sessions, the Future Leaders Forum was a great opportunity for students to gain a life-long network with other talented leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators across Vietnam and Southeast Asia.

Students were also introduced to new concepts in Entrepreneurship Seminar Series, with two special workshops hosted by industry leaders. The field players added another practical layer to the conversation by sharing about their own entrepreneurial path, demystifying the halo of renowned success stories, and encouraging young minds to explore the depth and breadth of knowledge, nurturing their curiosity and creativity for future innovations.

One of the main lessons is that there is no shortcut to the valley, no one-size-fits-all approach to entrepreneurship, and no recipe for success. Indeed, there is immense value in learning from others’ experiences, but that cannot replace actual practice and trying out things for oneself. “Success story is a double-edged sword for people who are trying to live by the book written by other people”, said Tri Lecao, a founder and CEO of Vibeji.

Dare to conquer the top

With that spirit, the students went to earn hands-on experience at the Virtual Hackathon – a competition that demonstrates a similar model to the start-up process in a compact way, from starting with an idea, identifying the problem, proposing a solution, prototyping, to pitching it to the public.

Mentored by coaches from Reactor School, a top-tier Singaporean company that provides Entrepreneurial programs for students across APAC, students collaborated in randomly assigned teams of four to work on a social entrepreneur project to address the United Nations’ Sustainable Goals. After three intense working days, the teams pitched their project to a panel of judges comprising industry experts. Not only did they all get to watch and learn from other teams’ presentations, but they also received helpful advice from the mentors and special guests, who are pioneers in the entrepreneurship ecosystem.

We have been to many competitions before but none of them were as intense as this Virtual Hackathon in terms of the given time – only 3 days – to build an entire project from scratch. Although there were times when we felt exhausted, however, we overcame the ​​anxiety brain fog, climbed over the “wall of idea stuck” and finally, conquered the top of the “mountain of capability”. This hackathon holds the magic of change: You are no longer the same person when you enter as when you exit.” – Nguyen Van Thanh (Class of 2025), a member of the champion team Fabrik. The team has won over the judges with their creative take on solving fabric waste issues by breaking it down into fibers to make DIY kits/products to serve a large existing demand for authentic/DIY gifts.

Although there could only be one winning team, all teams came home with more than they have anticipated. The Hackathon at Fulbright Innovation Week 2021 provided not only companions, memorable moments, but also grounded lessons on the early stages of the start-up world. It was an entrepreneurial “sandbox” where students can fall without hitting the rock bottom, actively gain experience and useful knowledge to stand straight up with confidence.

Ho Chi Minh City — The YSEALI Academy at Fulbright University Vietnam is pleased to announce that Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus will be giving the Distinguished Lecture at the 2021 YSEALI Academy Flagship Entrepreneurship Seminar on December 3, 2021.

In his talk, entitled “Unleashing The Power of Entrepreneurship: The Way to Create A World of Three Zeros”, Prof. Yunus will reflect on his life’s work and recent social impact projects, followed by a Q&A session with the audience.

📍 Limited slots are open for the general public – kindly register to join the event at:

Prof. Muhammad Yunus is the founder of Grameen Bank, pioneering the concepts of microcredit and social business, founding more than 50 Social Business companies in Bangladesh, and alleviating poverty for millions of people. For his constant innovation and enterprise, Fortune Magazine named Prof. Yunus in March 2012 as “one of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time.” In 2006, Prof. Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Professor Yunus has been stressing the need for a basic decision of ‘No Going Back’ to the old ways of thinking and doing. He proposes to create new roads to go to a new destination by creating a World of 3 Zeros – zero net carbon emission, zero wealth concentration for ending poverty once for all, and zero unemployment by unleashing entrepreneurship in everyone.

This Distinguished Lecture will be one of the key events of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) YOUnified Day on December 3, 2021 – when the YSEALI Community all over Southeast Asia will join hands to celebrate the 8th anniversary of YSEALI by organizing and participating in community service projects all around ASEAN and Timor-Leste.

The talk will take place virtually on December 3, from 6:45 PM to 8 PM (Vietnam Time, GMT +7), and will be livestreamed on Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative, YSEALI Academy at Fulbright University Vietnam, and Fulbright University Vietnam’s Facebook Pages. For inquiries, please contact the YSEALI Academy at Fulbright University Vietnam at

Launched in 2013, the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) is the U.S. government’s signature program to strengthen leadership development and networking in Southeast Asia and Timor-Leste. YSEALI is partnering with Fulbright University Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City on the YSEALI Academy at Fulbright University Vietnam. The YSEALI Academy at Fulbright University Vietnam offers executive-level seminars for entry to mid-level professionals around the themes of technology/innovation, public policy, and entrepreneurship. Participation will be open to applicants aged 25 – 40 who are citizens and residents of Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam.

After the success of the first two seminars on ‘Energy Economics and Policy’ and ‘Digital Transformation Challenges and Opportunities Post Covid-19’, YSEALI Academy at Fulbright University Vietnam is continuing its mission to connect and empower young Southeast Asian leaders. The series of 2021 flagship seminars at YSEALI Academy will round off with an Entrepreneurship Seminar on Navigating the Startup Ecosystem. Being the last of the flagship series, this seminar will offer a one-of-a-kind curriculum, which will cover the ins and outs of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and feature a fun Hackathon.

The entrepreneurial landscape of Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is flourishing as the fastest growing economy and the third-largest market in the world. With this rapid growth arises a number of pressing challenges facing the region, such as educational inequities, healthcare inaccessibility, and climate change. But with a budding entrepreneurial mindset, today’s challenges can be the fuel for tomorrow’s transformation towards a prosperous and healthy society.

The number of startups and the amount of early-stage venture capital investments in Southeast Asia have increased 20-fold over the past decade, reflecting the region’s enormous rise in entrepreneurial potential.

“The launch of an Entrepreneurship seminar comes in a timely manner. We want to leverage entrepreneurial talents and harness leadership capacities with the long-term vision of building a world-class innovation ecosystem in Southeast Asia. The two-week rigorous yet exciting program will equip the young Southeast Asian leaders with knowledge and confidence to embark on their startup journey tackling the world’s critical problems,” – Hoang Ha Thi, M.D., Ph.D., Lead Faculty of Entrepreneurship at YSEALI Academy shared at the info session webinar.

Interconnected and united, ASEAN still has a wide demographic, cultural, and linguistic diversity, and the ten countries are at various stages in their economic development. However, seeing that there are over 70 million MSMEs and SMEs, accounting for about 99 percent of the region’s businesses, the diverse cultural fabrics of Southeast Asian countries are woven with the same appetite for owning and running their own business. Yet, Dr. Thi believes that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to starting one’s own business. With such a rich cultural background, Southeast Asia needs to identify and address the market’s pain points on an individual level. Therefore, while encompassing the lessons from the world’s success stories, the YSEALI Academy’s Entrepreneurship seminar will also be deeply rooted in the regional context.

“As the name Navigating the startup ecosystem suggests, the seminar will be the first pointers for budding entrepreneurs to find their networks of advisers, friends from across the region, and even potential co-founders for their next business idea. In the spirit of fostering international collaboration, YSEALI Academy will act as a catalyst to connect the Southeast Asian most ambitious minds, offering Fellows the first-hand experiences and a launchpad for their future successes,” said Dr. Hoang Ha Thi.

Dr. Le Vu Quan, Dr. Hoang Ha Thi, and Ms. Trang Tran at an Info Session about the Entrepreneurship Seminar

Demystifying Entrepreneurship: from food truck to startup

The Entrepreneurship seminar aims to help Fellows connect the dots themselves, starting from that tingling, that urge to solve a problem, to building an actionable framework for launching their future startups.

The only prerequisite for the seminar is an ambitious and open mind with a brave heart to turn the most naïve idea into reality. Dr. Thi says that even with just a food truck as a starting point, you can spin it into a vision for a startup, build a brand, business model, raise capital, and scale.

In two weeks, the Fellows will be introduced to the field of entrepreneurship, gain a clearer vision of what entrepreneurship entails, its different types of ventures, and possible trajectories. Fellows will hear from entrepreneurs of different stages sharing about the life cycle of a startup from Ideation and opportunity analysis, to Building the right team, to Pitching and prototyping, then Launching the startup, Branding and marketing strategy, and finally, Fundraising strategy, startup growth and exit strategies.

Although YSEALI Academy has always incorporated leadership workshops within its programs, in this Entrepreneurship seminar, there will be a module focused on building leadership capacities to help Fellows hone their critical soft skills, nurture empathy to lead well-performing teams, create an engaging company culture, and sustain the innovative spirit in the long run. The curriculum is designed to incorporate a theoretical foundation and pragmatic approaches to de-risk the highly uncertain endeavor of entrepreneurship with the sharing from experienced lecturers and renowned guest speakers from all across the globe.

Along with the intensive schedule of lectures, discussions, and vibrant activities, there will also interlace mentoring sessions to prepare the Fellows to pitch their business proposals in teams at the Hackathon. “Entrepreneurship is probably the least theoretical topic out there so we cannot have a seminar without having a practical component that allows you to put your learnings into practice,” Dr. Thi reasoned as he shared his excitement for the upcoming Hackathon.

“You will have a chance to work hand in hand with entrepreneurs that guide you through the process of how to build a pitch deck, how to de-risk an idea, and how to ultimately pitch it to a panel. These can be a practice run of your entrepreneurial journey, where you will have to go through all of the steps to secure money and attention from the market.” To Dr. Thi who builds this curriculum, this Hackathon will be the heart and soul of the seminar as it replicates the most practical aspects of the startup ecosystem.

During the two-week program, Fellows will find their teams of five highly motivated partners from diverse professional and national backgrounds. These teams will collaborate to create conceptual business solutions for pressing societal needs and pitch their ideas to a panel of seasoned investors and/or experienced entrepreneurs. The seminar will culminate with this Hackathon’s pitch competition, where there will be prizes and the best pitches will receive continued support from the Academy to further explore their business ideas.

Bridging world-class experts and regional leaders

The seminar will invite exciting entrepreneurs from all stages of the startup life cycle, investors, marketers, and leadership coaches to inspire the Fellows and share their learned lessons with them. With the seminar being delivered virtually, YSEALI Academy will catalyze an interconnected startup ecosystem by bridging world-class experts and regional leaders, and everyone can benefit from this at the comfort of their home.

“We encourage Fellows to personally connect with the invited entrepreneurs and learn from their failures, personal experience with their journeys. There will be people at the very early stage, who like you, just started their entrepreneurial journey one or two steps ahead: they just launched a startup, and they may be just as scared or as excited as you are. There will also be the more seasoned entrepreneurs who have had multiple exits: they can share a more seasoned view, reflect on their experience and give you advice on how to navigate this ecosystem, not only professionally, but also emotionally and personally,” – Dr. Hoang Ha Thi stated. Amalgamation of resources, capital, and network is the instrumental factor of the seminar, through this, Fellows will be able to unlock their door and take the first steps into navigating the startup ecosystem.

Due to travel restrictions of the pandemic, the seminar will take place virtually, however, the two weeks will be packed with an academically rigorous and highly interactive networking schedule. There is a total of 23 sessions in two weeks (Monday – Friday), plus optional social activities, self-study, group work sessions, and lunch breaks for get-togethers. Joining this flagship Entrepreneurship seminar, Fellows are expected to commit at least 36 hours for online Seminar activities and approximately 12 additional hours for homework in 2 weeks. Therefore, participants are recommended to take two working weeks off their ordinary work duties or other commitments to participate efficiently in and achieve the most from the Seminar.

About the seminar: The Entrepreneurship Seminar on “Navigating the Startup Ecosystem” will be open to 35 YSEALI Fellows who are young professionals between the ages of 25-40, highly qualified and motivated, from all 10 ASEAN member states and Timor-Leste. Once selected, all participants will be fully funded by the U.S. Department of State to attend the Seminar. Due to the COVID pandemic, this Seminar will be conducted online.

The seminar will be hosted by the YSEALI Academy faculty and supported by the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Fulbright University Vietnam.


YSEALI Academy at Fulbright University Vietnam is excited to host the second webinar on its upcoming Entrepreneurship Seminar on “Navigating the Startup Ecosystem”.

Throughout this information session, our panelists including Hoang Ha Thi – Lead Faculty for Entrepreneurship at YSEALI Academy, and Vo Duy Anh – Strategy and Operations Manager of the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, will answer all questions related to the curriculum and the exciting experiential learning activities at the seminar.

Prospective applicants will also have an opportunity to learn about what they should expect when joining the seminar virtually through the sharing from our very own YSEALI Academy’s alumna, Nuzulia Fajriningrum.

We anticipate that our Entrepreneurship Seminar will help budding entrepreneurs turn their business visions into reality in order to solve big challenges of today’s society.

Webinar Information:

The Webinar will be live-streamed on Wednesday, September 22, 2021, 19:00 – 19:45 p.m. (Hanoi/Bangkok local time, UTC +7) on:


  • MD. Ph.D. Ha Thi Hoang, YSEALI Academy Lead Faculty for Entrepreneurship
  • Mr. Vo Duy Anh, Strategy and Operations Manager, Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
  • Ms. Nuzulia Fajriningrum, 2021 YSEALI Academy Energy Economics and Policy Alumna

Seminar schedule:

  • Enrollment: September 6–24, 2021
  • Participant selection announced: October 21, 2021
  • Seminar dates: November 29 – December 10, 2021 (two weeks, ten working days)

To find out more about the program:

To apply:

Even to the Vietnamese ears, the name “Hoang Ha Thi” might sound a bit uncommon and quaint. The reason being the one who gave it to him – his mother –is a writer and teacher who inspired Ha Thi to develop an ethos of purpose and diligence from an early age. Originally trained to become a doctor, over the years Thi’s adventurous spirit has seen him spearheading a career in research that’s keenly dovetailed with entrepreneurship. Now the journey has taken him to Fulbright University Vietnam, where he joins as Lead Faculty for Entrepreneurship at the YSEALI Academy and Undergraduate Faculty Member in Integrated Science.

Hoang Ha Thi’s family left Hanoi for Germany when he was five. In this new land, both his mother and father had to give up their lifelong professions as a literature teacher and a physicist respectively, and adopted jobs whose hardships and struggles are no exception to any immigrant story. Having witnessed their tribulations first-hand, Thi aspired to “be good” in his own life. “I’m extremely impact-driven. The moment I feel I don’t do anything meaningful, I get really depressed. It’s like I don’t finish my bowl of rice and everything,” he says over Zoom one recent afternoon from Berlin. But before your mind might stray to the typical image of tiger parenting, Thi assures us that his folks let him do anything he wanted, nor do they ever tell him what to do: “They said to me ‘The world is your playground. But whatever you do, think hard on the effect it has on people.’”

And so, when it was time to choose, Thi decided to study medicine at the Free University in Berlin. It’s in a sense a familial trade as his grandfather was a descendent of Hai Thuong Lan Ong, an 18th-century physician celebrated in history as the “Father of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine”, while many relatives on his mother’s side also work in health care.  “[At the time], I got very much interested in the brain,” he says. “Because I somehow thought for myself that to understand humans, you have to understand the brain.” Yet, while working in the hospital, he became frustrated by the fact that understanding of many of the brain diseases is still frail. That was why he turned to research. At the University of Cambridge, Thi did his Ph.D. in Neuroscience & Molecular Biology at the world-renowned MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, home to 11 Nobel Laureates over the past 60 years. There, his discoveries have laid the foundation for novel drug discovery efforts by big pharma.

M.D., Ph.D. Hoang Ha Thi at his graduation from the University of Cambridge

“Going into it, I thought my work would cure Alzheimer’s disease, which was very naive,” he quips. “Then I realized how hard it is, and how disconnected and removed research often is from the actual patient.” Built on his previous clinical experience, Thi’s next move was a foray into business when he founded two biotech companies – one in London, now defunct; the other is in Austria and running well; which reflect the classic narrative of any entrepreneurs out there who embrace, learn and get up from their failures. “I wanted to carve out a niche in my career that would be at the intersection between research and application,” he says. “I didn’t just want to do research, but also translation of research into commercial products that ultimately created impact for the patient. That could be anything starting from a meditation app all the way to a drug that cures a disease.”

Harvard Medical School came after. As a research fellow, Thi was able to look into the potentiality of commercialization in research findings and projects, while consulting venture capital companies in Boston. “To be honest, oftentimes you don’t have to be very smart to do research, you just have to have a lot of resources that allow you to do things that others can’t,” he remarks. “But they also could be wasted on research that has no application altogether. Instead of being passive and waiting for things to happen, what you can do is to actually take an active role.”

That mindset was perfectly matched when he joined Flagship Pioneering, a venture capital company that builds world-changing biotech companies starting with revolutionary scientific ideas. Of many projects the company’s built over the last 20 years, it’s compelling to mention Moderna, best known these days for its vaccine against the coronavirus among other significant breakthroughs. “Flagship Pioneering brings scientists from all different disciplines together to brainstorm things that people would feel probably too stupid to voice in other scenarios, where we can just dream big even though it sounds naive sometimes,” he says. “But eventually, through this process, we came up with really great company ideas. I’ve contributed to the formation of two companies within that framework.”

The journey home

Looking back on his professional career, Thi admitted to a certain streak of unconventionality. While most of his schoolmates from medical school now have their private practices and a pretty stable life, he is embarking on a new adventure at Fulbright University Vietnam.

It wasn’t until 2019 that Thi went back to Vietnam as an adult. Growing up in Europe, he was used to the diversity and enjoyed the company of friends all over the world who brought out in him a fuller, well-rounded perspective on life, especially when compared to his family’s traditional Vietnamese mindset. “Back in the days, the Vietnamese student community in Germany was very much closed up and rarely opened up to other cultures, which was difficult for me to relate to,” he says. “As a result, I thought maybe I don’t belong there.”

The trip, however, rekindled a part of him that had been previously untapped but ever still, tethered to the land be it the spirit of the young people he connected to, or the way the Vietnamese language is spoken among fellow countrymen, or the delicious authentic food they shared. “I left Vietnam completely shocked,” he says. “Because I was so, in fact, in love with it. I was sitting on the plane crying like a baby when I left Vietnam. Passengers and the stewardess turned around to ask if I was ok.”

Since then, Thi has been working on projects that he believes are of meaningful value to Vietnam and its people. One is a scholarship called “Vietnam my homeland” for disadvantaged children to continue with school and/or study abroad. The other is facilitating collaboration between the Institute of Genome Research in Hanoi and a genome company in Seattle to construct genetic maps of rare disorders found in ethnic minorities in Vietnam. It aims for the country’s advancement of genetic research and in the long run, the development of new cures and treatments.

“Over the past two years, I’ve been thinking how I can possibly go back to Vietnam and reconnect to that part of my identity,” he says. “It’s just insane to me that the opportunity at YSEALI and Fulbright came up, which suits me professionally and also allows me to explore and add another puzzle piece to my identity.”

A playful approach

At Fulbright University Vietnam, Thi plans to divide 80% of his time to the YSEALI Academy, and 20% goes with undergraduate students. What he hopes to establish is a framework for teaching and learning in which processes are streamlined, preformed structures are challenged, and the curriculum is open to the broader public one day. Furthermore, the student-teacher relationship is one that’s developed from a place of listening to and empowering each other.

The idea echoes something he once shared: The best way to be innovative is by being playful and breaking things (and fixing them afterwards). “I’m the kind of person who questions everything,” he says. “You try out something, you break it. And if it fails, you laugh about it. You have to do that a lot of times to get to this one iterative idea – a concept that works out eventually. That’s where the playfulness comes from. You have to trust your gut and go for it.”

Thi believes the entrepreneurial mindset – of taking risks, venturing into the unknown, generating new hypotheses – can be the key to approach anything in life. In other words, one can’t learn just by watching YouTube or reading books. “It’s not what you need to know, but rather, you need to know how to learn it,” he says.  “I think I can do a lot in teaching students how to take risks and how to be comfortable with uncertainty. The world has become so complex, and it’s very important to navigate uncertainty in their professional lives, whether they do business or not. What essentially matters at the end of the day is how the students will lead their lives in the real world once they leave school.”

The YSEALI Entrepreneurship Seminar

As Lead Faculty for Entrepreneurship at the YSEALI Academy, Thi is overseeing the upcoming “Navigating the Startup Ecosystem” seminar, which is now open for applications and will take place in November. One of the highlights of the curriculum that he developed with the YSEALI team is a Hackathon, in which fellows will work in teams to present conceptual business solutions to the most pressing challenges of society. A panel of experienced entrepreneurs will mentor the teams during the Hackathon, which culminates in startup pitches and an award ceremony.

“The idea behind it is to have people work together in a playful manner, and hopefully bring those concepts into life in the future,” he says. “It would be a dream scenario if we have people from different Southeast Asian countries now becoming friends, forming a team to actually build a company based on the ideas they have for the Hackathon at the seminar.”

YSEALI Academy is also a place for Thi to learn. He views it as an opportunity to get to know the landscape, and build capacity for ASEAN to become the next Silicon Valley with companies that create their own innovation and intellectual property. “I dislike the fact that Southeast Asian countries are oftentimes viewed as manufacturing outposts only,” he says. “There’s so much human capacity to create our own proprietary products. I hope to find people with a disruptive mindset, to discuss and work with them through this seminar.”

As such, the ideal candidate that he’s looking for in the selection process is someone who’s open to new people and topics, and sees themselves as an agent that can move easily between worlds. “I don’t care so much about their past experiences, what they’ve been trained in or where they went to study,” he says. “I want to see someone who wants to do something meaningful. Why do you want to do entrepreneurship? It’s oftentimes because you care about a problem, right? If you can convince me that you care, then you’re really a good person to join the seminar.”

Bao Quyen

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam — On September 6, 2021, the YSEALI Academy at Fulbright University Vietnam (Fulbright) officially announced the launch of its Entrepreneurship Seminar on “Navigating the Startup Ecosystem”. This seminar is now open for applications until September 24, 2021.

Launched in 2020, YSEALI Academy’s main mission is to organize seminars and workshops fostering capacity for young professionals, junior- and middle-management-levels individuals aged 25-40 from across Southeast Asia (YSEALI Fellows). Each year, the YSEALI Academy offers three flagship seminars on Public Policy, Technology & Innovation, and Entrepreneurship.

This year’s Entrepreneurship seminar is geared towards young professionals who plan to embark on their own entrepreneurial journey to change the world.

Over the course of two weeks, the seminar will provide an overview of how to navigate the startup ecosystem to bring business ideas to life. The YSEALI Academy will be inviting energetic entrepreneurs from all stages of the startup life cycle, investors, marketers, and leadership coaches to inspire and share their own lessons learned with all the Fellows. The seminar will also feature a Hackathon, in which fellows will work in teams to present conceptual business solutions to the most pressing challenges of society. A panel of experienced entrepreneurs will mentor the teams during the Hackathon, which culminates in startup pitches and an award ceremony.

The Entrepreneurship seminar on “Navigating the Startup Ecosystem” will be open to 35 YSEALI Fellows who are young professionals between the ages of 25-40, highly qualified and motivated, from all 10 ASEAN member states and Timor-Leste. Once selected, all participants will be fully funded by the U.S. Department of State to attend the seminar. Due to the COVID pandemic, this seminar will be conducted online.

The seminar will be hosted by the YSEALI Academy faculty and supported by the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Fulbright University Vietnam.

Seminar schedule:

  • Enrollment: September 6–24, 2021
  • Participant selection announced: October 21, 2021
  • Seminar dates: November 29 – December 10, 2021 (two weeks, ten working days)

To find out more about the seminar program:

To apply:

“Through the seminar, we hope to connect young leaders who have a strong entrepreneurial mindset with the dynamic startup ecosystem in Southeast Asia. Considering the enormous growth potential for startups in the region, YSEALI Academy fellows will have the opportunity to engage with talented entrepreneurs and academic scholars on pressing issues and breakthrough solutions” – Le Vu Quan, PhD, Director of YSEALI Academy

“Southeast Asia is undergoing tremendous growth and technological transformation. This development comes with opportunities and challenges. Building the entrepreneurial and leadership capacity to meet the most pressing challenges of society is at the heart of this year’s Entrepreneurship seminar.” – Hoang Ha Thi, MD, PhD – Lead Faculty for Entrepreneurship at YSEALI Academy.

A team of four freshmen from Fulbright University Vietnam has surpassed 12 strong competitors from 6 neighboring countries to bring home a Gold Medal at Mekong Business Challenge. This is the first win from a Vietnamese representative in 10 years. The team – Seesaw Vietnam, including Nhat Tan, Do Quyen, Yen Nhi, and Minh Phuong, will represent the whole region to compete in Business Model Competition (BMC) Global in the United States.

Seesaw’s product is a set of gamecards of conversation openers, helps the players understand more profoundly about their family, friends, and themselves. Not only is this game an entertaining activity, it also aims towards enhancing the mental health of the players by improving their connections with others.

Seesaw team members: Nhat Tan, Do Quyen, Yen Nhi, and Minh Phuong

Dao Hai Nhat Tan shares that this game is an idea that she has been cherishing for a long time. However, only when she joins Fulbright that Tan found her like-minded fellows and realized this idea into an entrepreneurship model with serious and methodical investments.

“Our ultimate goal is to have this product on store shelves and introduce it widely to consumers, not just a start-up idea. Although we entered the competition with a very comfortable mentality, perhaps our long-term commitment to Seesaw was what convinced the judges,” Nhat Tan adds.

A unique thing about Seesaw team is that the four members plan to pursue four different majors: Psychology, Literature, Arts and Media Studies, and Economics. The team tribute to their diverse forte for helping them shape this unique product to its finest form from content, design, to development – business strategy.

Do Quyen found the knowledge and skills learned from core courses at Fulbright like Quantitative Reasoning, Design and System Thinking to be profoundly beneficial. During the development process, Seesaw team has also received professional advices from the faculty about psychology, quantitative research, and arts.

The card game’s prototype

With the Championship at Mekong Business Challenge, the team has decided to dedicate all $5000 prize to invest into expanding their project. Seesaw is expecting to have its products launch in July. Seesaw’s victory not only brought pride but also the ambition of a whole generation of young Vietnamese who always believe and constantly strive for a better world.

Bảo Trâm