Some business ideas in this country are obvious. Others are less so. Dominique Gallo took the ‘less so’ route. Yet delve further and it makes perfect sense
When you think of your personal IT needs in Vietnam, you tend to think of small computer shops, the kind of places that provide both retail and ‘after-sales’ service all under one roof, the joints that will sell you cheap, Chinese-made accessories rather than the real deal. If you’ve got business needs, then you’ll either be using the same one-stops to set up and look after your servers, or if you’re a larger entity, you’ll go for the big corporations, the FPTs of this world. Or you may even go more ad hoc and use this ‘guy you know’ who’s a friend of a friend and who you can call out when anything goes wrong.
Enter Frenchman Dominique Gallo and his company, ITM. Where many a foreigner has come to Vietnam and found an area in which to successfully do business, Dominique has thrust himself into the IT industry. Software development? No. Quite the opposite. Instead, he’s trodden in a market where other entrepreneurial angels fear to tread. Dominique is doing what those one-stop IT shops do, “supporting and solving any problem people can face with an IT device”. But, he’s doing it better.
For private customers, ITM repairs PCs or laptops, provides Wi-Fi, fixes software, deletes viruses and so on. Your standard kind of computer ‘needs’ fare, except that with a team of English-speaking staff, it’s easier when it comes to language barriers. They also go out of their way to stop you ‘losing all your data’, a standard and frustrating occurrence in Vietnam. For businesses, they provide IT services such as maintenance, installation, networks, software and IT solutions. They also do IT solution work. There are three keys: quality, customer service and size.
That Point of Difference
“In Vietnam you have to choose between small computer shops or big corporations. There is nothing in the middle,” explains Dominique. “Many companies, especially medium-sized ones, have ‘medium needs’. That is [one way in which] we differ from this small computer shops.
“The other problem is trust. When you have important and strategic data, you can’t give it to a company or shop that you don’t trust 100 percent. With 17 years experience [in the industry], I have a clear understanding of managers’ and companies’ expectations for their IT system and the confidentiality of their data. [We provide] the same quality of service that you would find in Europe or the West.”
He adds: “We offer professionalism, quality, commitment, advice, complex analysis; we ensure immediate answers, fast and accurate to our customers’ requirements. We always focus on quality and we refuse to sacrifice it for the benefit of low costs.”
It’s a strategy that has worked. Founded in 2009, at the time ITM was comprised of just two people — Dominique and an assistant. They now have 40 staff and two offices: one in Ho Chi Minh City and one in Hanoi. Besides their ‘private’ customers, ITM’s clients include the likes of Uma, Renault, CMI, Lazada, ACC, Snap and Alstom as well as businesses working in insurance, law, tourism and manufacturing. They’ve also teamed up with Iknow, a Ho Chi Minh City-based business that is to Apple devices what ITM is to the PC. More recently, in their District 2 offices on Quoc Huong, ITM has opened up a retail outlet for PC products and accessories.
Who Said It Was Easy?
Success hasn’t been straightforward — it never is — and one of Dominique’s key goals has been to create a common vision among his staff, a customer-centred approach and a belief in working together to make the company grow. It’s worked. Annual staff turnover is only 15 percent.
However, for potential and existing entrepreneurs he has some advice.
“You have to be aware of the cultural differences here before starting any business as adaptation can be complicated,” he explains. “It is also necessary to choose your business partners carefully and take care over the people you work with. You need ambition, a strong taste for a challenge and a long-term vision to be successful here. More than anything, don’t be afraid to take risks.”
For more info on ITM pop into their shop at Fifth Floor, Street 41, Thao Dien, Q2, HCMC or click on itm-computercare.vn