Student to start-up: an interview with Philip Nguyen of Gochiso.

Would you like to join me for dinner? And would you like to donate a part of your bill to a worthy cause? Hopefully you said “yes” and can literally put your money where your mouth is. In this segment, I had the honor of speaking to Philip Nguyen, co-founder of start-up Gochiso, a social dining platform, which matches diners and non-profits. He shares his unique journey that has led him from his research lab as a PhD student to the start-up scene in Osaka.

Crazy ideas are often hatched over drinks and in Philip’s case this was no exception. The start-up scene in Kansai grows and connects with people from all walks of life. “It all started when I joined Hack Osaka an event held by Osaka Innovation Hub,” Philip said. It provided an environment and opportunity to be surrounded by like-minded people of entrepreneurs. One opportunity led to another and Philip was drawn away from his research lab into the start-up world.

“I was initially interested in starting a non-profit,” Philip replied when asked about his motivation to do a start-up. But, he soon realized that is was difficult endeavor for various reasons. Instead, “to create value and to scale it with technology was very attractive,” Philip highlighted which he felt would create more value compared to just a non-profit.

Do you need entrepreneurship to be in your DNA? According to Philip, “anyone can be an entrepreneur. The way of thinking lies between sanity and insanity. Having a crazy idea is not going to work. Having a conventional idea is not going to work either. Your working idea has to be crazy enough.” Consider your lifestyle and personality is right in between your creative and logical sides. Being in various environments and around a variety of people will influence you in some way or form.

The next opportunity Philip had was to be a part of the first batch of the Kobe Start-up Office. The valuable thing he received from this experience was meeting and learning from other start-ups that were going through various stages and city officials. “The new perspectives and feedback was also helpful, but you can be selective with the feedback which fits your mission / goals,” Philips commented.

When talking about challenges, the language barrier and team members are the two that stand out. As a non-Japanese speaker, areas such as legal work were an obstacle for Philip. “But obstacles are opportunities to find the right team members to fill in the gaps,” Philip said. “You cannot be a one-person start-up. It is your team members that make a start-up happen. People that you work with must care about the mission and someone that you can respect and admire, someone that I can learn from and be able to fill in those gaps in weakness,” Philip added.

Points to Consider

  • Don’t think about doing a start-up, instead think about what kind of value will you add to the world and why.
  • Is it scalable with technology?
  • Will the value you create still be relevant in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?
  • Is your why strong enough to keep you relentless in achieving your goals?

In closing, Philip highlighted, “If your why is strong enough, you will find a way! Be comfortable with asking for support and advice. Don’t be afraid of rejection and ask for feedback and ask to be referred onto to someone they know that might help.”

A big thank you to Philip Nguyen of Gochiso for his time and sharing his experiences with us. For more information about Gochiso, please visit their website at gochiso(dot)jp and sign-up to get invites to their launch events starting in spring.

Thank you for joining us on Kansai Business Break and we look forward to connecting with you again during our next segment.