High-tech entrepreneurs are synonymous with college dropouts — a la Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. But the knowledge, connections, and support offered by business school can propel students into rewarding careers in the tech sector.
Thanh Ngo is the founder of two entrepreneurial ventures. In8Beats is a music tech start-up that seeks to revolutionize the way people learn to play the guitar. NamSource is an accelerator for Australian entrepreneurs.
She’s also a graduate of the full-time MBA program at UWA Business School in Perth, Australia.
This year’s UWA MBA cohort travelled to San Francisco’s Silicon Valley, where they visited tech giants like Google.
UWA also brings the brightest minds in tech on campus. Past guest lecturers include the co-founder of Techboard – an online network for Australia’s tech entrepreneurs - and the business development executive from software consulting firm Solution Minds.
And below, Thanh explains why UWA is the perfect place to launch a business in the high-tech space.
Q. Why is UWA a great place to launch a tech business? What support did the business school offer you?
UWA has a long history of excellent, Nobel Prize-winning research and development, which have a significant impact on society and people’s health and well-being. UWA also has a strong culture of innovation, translating research into impactful, commercial products.
The UWA Business School has an extensive network of MBA alumni all over the world, as well as strong relationships with many different organizations in Perth and nationwide. The Business School is really helpful in providing me with the right connections. I’ve also been regularly invited back to the Business School for various networking events and invaluable guest lectures and seminars, which I find really useful in keeping me informed of the trends in technology and in business.
Q. Tech entrepreneurs are synonymous with college dropouts - a la Mark Zuckerberg. How is the UWA MBA curriculum relevant to tech entrepreneurship?
Tech entrepreneurs are those who think outside of the box, who challenge assumptions and the conventional way of doing things, who fall in love with problems, see problems as opportunities, and view problems from different angles; different perspectives.
The UWA MBA curriculum is a balance of class time and real-life experiences. During the MBA I was exposed to many new challenges, which forced me to step outside of my comfort zone and think differently.
Through the mentoring program, I met some brilliant minds who challenged my assumptions and encouraged me to believe in myself, to dream big, and to take steps towards realizing my dream. The special leadership program helped me discover my strengths and overcome my weaknesses. It gave me a safe environment in which to fail and learn through failure. I became more agile and resilient as a result.
Studying for an MBA at UWA shifted my mind-set immensely. I started to see the world around me differently and became able to identify problems as unmet needs that I had not seen before. Seeing the world in this way has created diverse business opportunities.
Q. Tell us about your two start-up ventures.
In8Beats is a music technology start-up that will revolutionize the way people learn and play guitar. Our vision for In8Beats is for people to participate in a music lesson with any musician in history, dead or alive! In 2017, In8Beats will launch its first product, QikJam, which enables guitarists to play in their own band, just like a rock star.
When we launched In8Beats, we learned that building software locally was enormously expensive. We needed to design and manage the project in Perth, but also used outsourced developers. This is when we formed a team of highly-skilled developers in Vietnam, and when NamSource was born.
NamSource accelerates Australian entrepreneurs by converting their ideas into real products and services at a low cost, using web and mobile technologies. We leverage award-winning project managers and technologists in Australia together with our tech-team in Hanoi. The economic benefit to Australia is tangible, as more small businesses can now launch their products and create more employment. Vietnam is the new Silicon Valley of APAC, so positioning our international collaboration in Perth is a highly strategic move.
Q. What’s your opinion of Perth’s entrepreneurial ecosystem?
Perth is a great place for innovation. It’s in the same time-zone of 60% of the world’s population, which makes it very convenient for international collaboration.
Perth’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is entering an exciting era. The WA Start-up Ecosystem Report 2015 found that the number of active start-ups skyrocketed from around 100 in 2013 to 335 in 2015, a massive 235% increase over just two years! And it’s still on the rise.
Perth has also seen a steady rise in support services for entrepreneurs such as incubators and accelerators, innovation centers, co-working spaces, meetup groups for tech start-ups and entrepreneurs, as well as university courses on entrepreneurship and innovation.