How he decided to go to Vermont for high school
The feeling that he had to start his own company when he was 25
Moving to Malaysia to open a chain of Vietnamese restaurants
Realizing he was not cut out for the restaurant business
Sold the business and returned to Vietnam to build a more scalable business
The beginnings of WriterZen and what it strives to accomplish
Understanding what Google wants
Functionality versus Design
How character is more important than skills
The power of compounding and the ‘horizon of no return’
Building to scale
I Only Love Eating, I Don’t Love Cooking
Maybe I Am Not Very Fit With Corporate Life
Design Is Actually What Makes Them Stay
Every Product Requires a Really Good Design
The Tradeoff for Great Things Is Time
Read the full transcript below:
Michael Waitze 0:02
Michael Waitze Media…Telling Asia’s Stories.
Michael Waitze 0:10
Hi, this is Michael Waitze, and welcome back to the Asia Tech Podcast. Today I’m joined by Daniel Nguyen…sure I got that wrong, a co-Founder and CEO of WriterZen. Thank you. I would like to be a lot more zen when I’m writing. Daniel, it’s great to have you on the show. How are you doing?
Daniel Nguyen 0:31
I’m doing great. Thank you, Michael, thank you for having me on the show.
Michael Waitze 0:35
It is my pleasure. Why don’t we give our listeners a little bit of your background for context before we jump into the main part of the conversation?
Daniel Nguyen 0:42
Sure. Well, before we get there, just to let you feel less bad, Nguyen, it’s probably the hardest word…hardest last name. I have not had anyone, including my wife said it right. So including my wife. Yes, she is. She’s Malaysian. And it’s, it’s been impossible. And we’ve been married. We known each other for 10 years. And that’s awesome. But until now. Yeah. So no, no, no hard feeling. Thank you. Anyway. So hi, guys, my name is Daniel Boone. And I’m a founder, CEO and co founder of represent a bit of background about me, I was born and raised in Hanoi, Vietnam. Okay, I went to the United States to study when I was 17, stay there for about six years, ended up going back and start working for a investment consultant for before I go to Kochi, mania and start working for another commercial bank. And that was when I was about 25. I felt like I need to do start, I need to start something. And I felt like that was the right time to do because if I feel that if I don’t do it, then I wouldn’t have any more chance to make any mistake. Later on. Right? The resuIt get too much. So I went over to Malaysia and start this Vietnamese fast food chain. Ryoko by me, we ended up open about four restaurant and then and we franchise one to Singapore. And at that point, I felt like I’m not cut out for this even though we will grow but I was definitely not cut out…
Michael Waitze 2:12
for what for the restaurant business or from just restauranting?
Unknown Speaker 2:15
…for the restaurant business. It’s I realized it’s hard. I realized that you need a lot of love for doing restaurant, right? And I realized over three years of doing it is, I only love eating I’m not I don’t really love cooking. Yeah, I don’t really particularly love that. So we sold the business. And I came back to Vietnam, I wanted to do something that is scalable, that is a bit more complex of a problems that, you know, intellectually challenging, more intellectually challenging. I wanted to create a product, now something that would solve a universal problem sort of. And I realized that we came to conclusion that you know what, I’m going to try to build some sort of software. I don’t know what it is yet. But I would like to base it on some giants, like Google or Facebook, because those are the two company that sort of are going to remain there over the course at least 10 to 20 years.
Michael Waitze 3:13
I want to back up for a second. All right. Yeah. You went to United States when you were 17?
Daniel Nguyen 3:18
Yes, there’s that for high school as well. Yeah, high school.
Michael Waitze 3:21
So where did you go?
Daniel Nguyen 3:23
I went to I went to Vermont. There’s funny story actually. We went to an agent, right? And they have a list of high school and presented to me and majority of the schools actually on California, the West, the West Coast, right? Because that’s where a lot of majority of the Viennese communities are there. And I was like, No, I’m gonna go to United State I’m gonna try to stay as far away from the Vietnames community as possible because I want to learn English.
Daniel Nguyen 3:55
Yeah, you know, so we were I was like, I was thinking about how Look, there’s the list of that school called United Christian Academy. And it was in Vermont. I was like, where’s Vermont? I’ve never heard of never heard of this name is the state. And but I told my mom, this sounds like a place that I’m not going to find any Vietnamese people. So I’m gonna go there. It’s not big cities not area. I’m just gonna go. So I didn’t end up there. As remember first time I landed at the airport in Vermont, in Burlington city. And I expect you know Oh, I’m in the United States of America now you know the biggest the greatest country on Earth and must be some like a lot of sky hirings, you know building and all that stuff like car running routes busy street. I lent in Burlington towns like Man, this airport is small. The airport I left. Spread. I spent the next two years living there with a neighbor that is like 100 meter away from our house. And when I opened the door, that’s just field and yeah, house and mountain.
Michael Waitze 5:07
When did you arrive? Like What month was it? You know?
Unknown Speaker 5:11
I can’t really remember. I think it was starting the first semester. I guess that was the end of summer. So it’s beginning New Year’s school. Yeah.
Michael Waitze 5:19
So did you see the leaves? Did you see the leaves change colors?
Daniel Nguyen 5:22
Michael Waitze 5:23
Tell me that’s not spectacular.
Unknown Speaker 5:25
Oh my gosh, that was the most beautiful…This is beautiful. It is beautiful. But then, but then I got hit with a snow and it wasn’t very beautiful. It was only beautiful in the first two days or so. Oh, my the cold was killing me. Yeah. I mean, I was born in Vietnam.
Michael Waitze 5:42
So yeah, so my family’s originally from Boston. So I spent plenty of time in the Northeast. And if I ever see snow again, it’ll be too soon.
Unknown Speaker 5:52
I totally agree with you. I totally agree with you. Yeah.
Michael Waitze 5:55
And where did you go to college?
Daniel Nguyen 5:58
So went to college, I fly across the country, to Seattle. So I was like, you know, I already experienced the east side. America, may as well go all the way to the west. Why not? And so I flew over there. And then I was like, I like a school. And so I ended up there.
Michael Waitze 6:16
Why not? So you come back to Vietnam, you worked at a big company first. But why did you think you said I wanted to, I just knew I had to start my own thing. And I had to do it when I was young. So if I made a few mistakes, it was okay. Because the risk is lower there, you have fewer responsibilities. But where did this idea come from? Like, is your family a family of entrepreneurs? Were your friends building their own stuff? Or did you just like read the news and say, this is the thing to do?
Daniel Nguyen 6:41
No, my, my both of my parents are working for the State Bank of Vietnam. So got it odd coming from any background of doing intrapreneur being an entrepreneur, but I don’t know, I just always have a feeling. Or maybe I’m just not very fit with corporate life. You know, we’re doing like all this, like 95. And I realized that sometimes I really hate this. Yeah, everybody does not. I was a Yeah, it’s not like I was unhappy or whatnot, you have a pretty decent job then. And was young, you know, when you’re young is not so much of a whole I’m looking for the happiness inside? Just, I just don’t. I feel like I could. I could try. You know, why not? I want to give it a shot. You know, I don’t know where it bring me to. I was young. So I snow, I need to do it. Fair enough. Yeah.
Michael Waitze 7:27
You said you looked at Google, you looked at Facebook, and you thought I want to solve a big problem. And I did you say you want to work with Facebook and Google?
Daniel Nguyen 7:36
Not particularly. But so my reasoning is this. I felt like I don’t want to create something completely new of the water. You know, I felt like if I want to create something, it should be a little more on the safe side safer side, you know, I’m not the guy who go out and boldly say that I’m going to create this complete new thing would change the whole industry, there’s so many along the way that you could do that. The thought process behind that is that you see this giant company that create an entirely new set of demand for users, for example, now, the Google knowledge is now on your fingertips. Right, right. And along with that they create new market, new market opportunity. For example, people want to do SEO, people want to do Google ads, they will need some sort of software to support them with the things that they do. Right? So if we were to build anything we want, I want to build it on the shoulder of a guys who will be sure be there for a long time. I understand. So that’s my that’s that’s my reasoning behind.
Michael Waitze 8:37
And what about writers? And so where does that come from? What is it first of all, just for people that may not know,
Daniel Nguyen 8:43
oh, is the consolidated platform for digital content writing. And by digital content writing, we focus mainly on content that you write for blogs, for example, that helped you rank on Google, which we call SEO, search engine optimization, right, is becoming one of the biggest trend in marketing in digital marketing nowadays, because it’s what they call it inbound marketing. So it’s create organic traffic, right. So you write certain blogs and the blog fit exactly with the demand of users, they when they search for that term, you appear on it, they will go in there, they read your blog. And in your blog, there’s linking to other knowledge, we click on it. And after a while reading your stuff, they become your customer. So instead of you run an ads, you actually provide values inside and content so that users will actually convert into into your car.
Michael Waitze 9:35
But how does this work? So do you have to write a blog a week a blog a day? Do you have to use like Google trending search words like what is the process that actually has to happen for somebody to write a blog that actually is impactful enough that it turns into inbound marketing?
Daniel Nguyen 9:50
Well, there’s two things you have to do, right? I mean, Google essentially is a supply and demand machine. Google. Google exists and thrive based on the fact that they couldn’t match between the demands of the users, which is the keyword that they search to the supplier, the corresponding supplier, which is the website, and they have that kind of content to match. Right. So the first thing you have to do if you want to do SEO is you have to understand what Google wants, right? Why they will want you to, first of all, you need to make sure your blog and your website is laid out very nicely, you know, accordingly to their rule. And then the speed of your website has to be very good, right. And the design of your website has to be up to that standard. And then you want to know what the demand is, which is what the keyword which your users search, so you have to do two things First, satisfy Google and second, satisfied your users. And so the process of satisfying your user is where you do this thing called keyword research. And you research what your users are searching about. And then once you know what that demand are, you try to provide it for them. So that’s, that’s what our, our tutors, we help them to do all of that. So normally, if you do it manually, you’re not gonna be able to do it, verify you may, you won’t be able to do a 10 Q. But without to you, you probably can do about 1000 keywords in maybe half an hour.
Michael Waitze 11:11
Let’s say I’ve never used writers than before, but I have a blog, and I want to start using it to help me do this thing. How does this whole process work? Can you run me through that?
Daniel Nguyen 11:21
Sure. So the first thing is we you will have to do this process called topic research. And topic research essentially, is to figure out let’s say if you write about a topic, nutrition plan, right, I think that’s a good topic to start. And so the first thing Google will want your website to be is that Google wants to know, are you an expert in nutrition plan? Because they want to make sure that you are you know about the stuff that you write? Right? Sure, right. And for example, if you are an expert on nutrition plan, you want to research that what is Google’s definition of expertise on this keyword. So let’s say you want an expert, you will want to write not just about nutrition plan, you will want to write about nutrition plan for athlete nutrition plan for people with diabetes neusiedl plan for people with that good for your health, diet condition plan that you can lose weight. So all of these topics, we call sub topic on the main topic, which is new should plan. And the first thing is you need to figure out what are all the subtopics. So that you know, okay, if I write about all this, at least to Google, you’ll become an expert. Alright, so that’s the first step. And so after you’re done with this topic, sort of like forming, we call pyramid for me, right? Like a topic trees. Right? You have that? And then you start looking for the keyword, which is the user demand under each of these sub topics. Right? For example, nutrition plan, you will see keyword like, you know, there’s a lot keyword that you search randomly a day, right? How do I write down? How do I find a nutrition plan that fit with my daily schedule, right, something like that. There’ll be like a really long, random keywords. But there’s a bunch of people looking for exact same keyword. And if you find that keyword, and you write a piece of content that tailor exactly that type of need. And there’s not many competitor, nobody’s keyword, you will rank Google, like, you know, Oh, this guy know about this, this guy, not only they know about the topic, but they also know about the demand in which the user have, I’m gonna have them rank on top. So when you rank on top, then very likely you will have the traffic people search you, they see it, and they will go into your blog, and they start reading and they eventually convert into your customer,
Michael Waitze 13:31
and writers and does that
Daniel Nguyen 13:33
we does that. So we does all of the things, that whole workflows. So what we sell is for not one features, we sell the whole workflows, you do the topic research based on our algorithm. And then you do the keyword research. Also, based on our tool, we develop a few proprietary sub like our own technology to help us to do it very easily. Okay. And then you go into kind of conducting your content, you start writing, using our platform, as well under writing will help you to research all the competitors. Like for example, you want to know the top 10 guy, what do they do that is correct. And you want to kind of copy some of that, right? And then do we kind of provide you with service where you will be able to check for plagiarism, to make sure that your content is unique. So that when when your content go up on Google, Google does go hey, this guy you copy content,
Michael Waitze 14:22
some Yeah, you can’t plagiarize other people’s stuff. Yes. Go ahead. Yes.
Daniel Nguyen 14:26
Yeah. And then we provide you with collaboration to where you can share the link to freelancer and they just go in there they write for you. They send it back to you. You can check though things if it’s good, you get done. That’s it. Everything from A to Z. That’s what we
Michael Waitze 14:41
do. So not only did you build a tool that helps you understand what the keywords are, what the research is and helping to build that pyramid. But you did the next step and also built a marketplace where if I don’t want to go out and use the results of that I can hire somebody through your through your site.
Daniel Nguyen 14:59
We don’t provide marketplace, but we provide you with a tool where you can share and check progress with people who you will work with.
Michael Waitze 15:06
Interesting. Maybe I just gave you an idea.
Daniel Nguyen 15:10
We thought of that. But yes,
Michael Waitze 15:13
ways you’re way smarter than I am. What is the sort of core philosophy behind building writers in?
Daniel Nguyen 15:21
I think for a long time we we wasn’t able, I wasn’t able to really figure it out very clearly, I just did it out of my own instinct. But I realized over time that we value design so much. And that’s become one of our most important philosophies behind designing how to, to us functionality is just to build to impress users. And design is actually what make them stay. And I know the statement sounds so unconventional, right? A lot of people think that oh, you know, it was a good design, that’s probably to impress people. But for example, the reason why I came up with this was, was when I first bought the first Samsung phone, I was an Apple fan for a very long time. I use all everything MacBook. I love their design, and the guy who really a sucker for for good design. Anyway, I saw this Samsung phone is Samsung S eight. I remember the first time it came out and was to have the curved screen. Yep. So Oh, my gosh, that’s so cool. And the current screen is so nice. And it’s so impressive all the functionality they have, right. And I was like, You know what, I’m going to quit iPhone, this time. I’m going to try this Samsung for the first time. And Samsung back then is already set the standard of like the best android phone out there. So I bought the thing. And I go in there and start using everything is so pretty. Everything is very pretty. But I start running into these little problems where i i scroll things, right. And as I was scrolling, I realized that I think it was like 0.002 seconds lacking compared to the iPhone I was using. Yeah. And then when I scroll all the way to the bottom, it didn’t it has this really bugging feeling where you scroll, and it’s just
Unknown Speaker 17:06
thought it feels broken. Yeah, as like,
Daniel Nguyen 17:08
What the heck is this? I have to figure out what it is. That made me feel so weird about it. And I look it up and it called Rubber Band effect. And only on Apple product, you will have that Apple brand effect when you scroll. And then at the bottom, it was pound bounce up and then go back down.
Michael Waitze 17:26
Yeah, they did that on the first iPhone. That’s when I realized
Daniel Nguyen 17:30
Samsung create something so impressive, right? But I’m not going to stay with them. Yeah, because all these little things. That’s what truly is good design. Exactly. That’s what Apple does. Right? Same was like a MacBook. I mean, look at the MacBook now, it hasn’t changed the design since like 2015. And if you have a MacBook, you don’t stick anything on it. You keep it pristine as it is. And you look at it every day, and you say oh my gosh, how could it be so pretty? PC? You’d never do that with a PC?
Michael Waitze 18:00
No, never. No one’s ever looked at a Dell and I gotta have two of those one for upstairs and one for downstairs.
Daniel Nguyen 18:07
All your don’t ever take out your cleaning stuff and clean the between the keyboard of your PC to make sure that it looks
Michael Waitze 18:15
pristine, because who cares? But isn’t it true? So Apple actually did say design is not the way something looks, it’s the way it works. Right? The way it feels. And wait feels that’s exactly what you’re saying. And the other thing you haven’t mentioned is that functionality is easily copied, I can cut and paste somebody code into my thing. But it’s very hard for me to copy the design, right? And in the combination of those two things as a philosophy is heavily differentiating, I think, yeah,
Daniel Nguyen 18:43
it’s easier said than done, done. For sure. People would probably say the same thing. But design of software required every level of your company to really believe in the same thing. So the design guy will definitely say yes, but can you make the court guy to say yes, I will stick with this design no matter what, right? Because if you look at a really good design, the court guy was like, No, it’s impossible. I’m not going to do it. You know, I’m not gonna do it. It’s always it’s, I can’t do it. I can’t. But you see, the way we have to do is that we have to put it as a philosophy behind everything we do. And if a guy go into our start working in our company, that’s the first thing they have to know. You are designer at heart. If you’re a coder, you design your code, right your design, you design, the graphic, you design, the UX design, everything. If you are a marketing person, you design a campaign you are designing, and every product requires a really good design. You can’t just do it based on an Excel sheet. That’s not that’s not going to, it’s not going to make a product impactful.
Michael Waitze 19:49
It’s such an interesting way to think about building products and writing software. Everybody’s a designer.
Daniel Nguyen 19:58
You design your life. Yo creo creator. And you know, in some level people more, someone could create more, you know, someone create less, but you create things, you create your life, you choose your choice, kind of make you a designer, normally only if you want it or not.
Michael Waitze 20:18
Yeah, but once you start saying it explicitly, it makes you think about the things that you’re doing in a different way. Yeah, that’s true. It’s a really interesting concept angle. Really? How do you decide when you go out to hire people who the right people are to bring into your company? Because there is a real philosophy here, right? And because you’re probably not hiring 20,000 people yet. When you bring somebody in, they have to fit in. Because if they don’t fit in, even at the beginning, it’ll be like a virus, right? It’ll be just really bad. It’s not just one bad person, it can disrupt the harmony. How do you do that? How do you go through and try to figure out who the right people are?
Daniel Nguyen 21:01
The skill is one thing, but we don’t really look particularly at skill, we look at characters. We actually I spend a lot of time looking at characters, I look at the way they present their things. Do they care about their CV? Do they care about the interview that they are going to go? Did they actually look it up about me about the product about the company? Do they care? Do they really care about it? Right? Because the way you care about certain things is also the way you conduct yourself in certain environment. Exactly. And then how was their relationship with their ex boss, with their ex colleagues? And then are the other curious? Are they really curious, truly curious. And the last one is, how big is their ego? Right? It doesn’t really have anything to do with skill. It’s very interesting.
Michael Waitze 21:52
You can teach a skill, it’s almost like we were saying before, right functionality, no problem. But design, you have to really like focus on it. But on the other hand, skills can be taught, but having character cannot be taught, it’s really hard, like you almost have it or you don’t have it. And you can change some behavior, but not a lot of behavior. And if like I said, if you bring somebody in whose character and whose philosophy does not match with the surrounding environment, it can be corrosive for everybody else and everything else that’s there. Like it’s not just toxic, it doesn’t just get people said, it could blow everything up. And it’s really hard, right?
Daniel Nguyen 22:26
So that’s one of the way when I thought of building the team, I didn’t think of I never want to build a big team. I want to build a very small team, and let them start building their own team with the same DNA that I build them, right. So we start writers and only like 10 people, and now to grow to 15. And you wouldn’t believe we know we have this 15 Young, really young kids who just graduate college interns, somewhere here and there, none of them are from Ivy League school, we create a product that now the top four product of SEO software in the world, right? We are the high performer in in fall 2021. In in Jeetu, we have like 5000 Plus users in like a short six months. They are all from Vietnam. These kids, they hardly even speak any English. How do they do it?
Michael Waitze 23:12
How did they do it? And it’s so great, though, isn’t it? How did they do it?
Daniel Nguyen 23:15
Well, the first thing is that because we keep a unit very small. Yeah. And I spend explicitly a lot of time with each of them. When we are able to do that I realized one thing, I never say that you should trust each other, but they grow to your stresses other, right? Because this message of functionality, look, you have to design and you have to put your heart into the things that you do. They go against everything that they learned in business school, I value the quality of your output more than anything. And I keep saying that. I keep saying that every week. So one once a week, each of them got a slot or one hour with me. And I keep saying that constantly for about a month. And eventually, they transfer. And it’s very fun. It’s almost I’ve never done it. And when I start doing this, the whole thing just kind of transform into this this unit of people that I now can fully trust with the things that we do.
Michael Waitze 24:08
Do they notice the change themselves? Oh, yeah.
Daniel Nguyen 24:10
Oh, yeah. Six months and they said to me, I have no idea I could be wearing today. Really? It’s it’s, it’s unbelievable.
Michael Waitze 24:19
And how fulfilling is that for you? As a manager very, or just as a person really
Daniel Nguyen 24:25
very fulfilling. This is probably the things when I would discuss you a bit later. I want to build a really good product with the people who I love to I count business as an infinite game. This is very cool sort of like theory by Simon Sinek you know I’m not sure if you know it’s a business in fine again, there’s no winner or loser right it’s just if you if you if you do it with a mindset that is gonna last forever is the game that you will build slowly. You don’t have to wait this no winner tomorrow if no you there’ll be some different Daniel to do this. Right so So I choose the things that will make me enjoy this. This in finite game?
Michael Waitze 25:06
Where did you come up with this phrase that you value quality output above everything else? I like it a lot? Is it something you read somewhere? Or is it just a feeling that you’ve had when you started building your own teams? Where does it come from?
Daniel Nguyen 25:18
Well, it was actually it’s came from, who is one of my thoughts is like when I was working, and I was reading the story of Warren Buffett, and he was talking about compound interest. Yeah, right. And he was saying, like how you invest 100,000 Now, and in 20 years, we’ll turn about $1 million dollars. And it’s if you just keep compounding you put like 10,000 in every year or something, right. And the compound interest is like this really powerful machine. And it’s powerful, the longer you keep it, right by the year 19. And when you eat 20, it’s like double. And when I when I read that, I realized that it doesn’t just work with interest. It also worked with arrows. And it also worked with decision, right? So with arrows, for example, if you if you make enough of a small arrows, and you just keep allowing yourself to make that smaller arrows, it will compound up to a point where I call it the horizon of no return. Right? Because the something tragic will happen. It’s like a husband who, who cheat on his wife. It didn’t start out when he just like, I’m going to go on cheat. Instead of like, Man, I have a bad day. I wish I could like text someone. And it’s not texting the first time I was asked, okay, nobody know, I don’t know, nobody knows I text a second time as compounded. But when it happened, people tend to think that oh, that’s his, his his his characteristic. He’s a cheater? No, is he just really bad? Arrows stopper hero, you if you stop at some point in three days in and you realize, okay, this is not good, I’m going to stop, it would happen, the tragic will happen. And so everything have this compound characteristic. And so our good decision. So output, so majority of the things I see in business was that you have to really turn out everything very fast, fast output, as you expect, fast output will return very quality result. But fast output will very much 90% tend to produce arrows. And if you compound this over time, because everyone put that light on everything. So your your your your staff just have to get this done. Getting it done will also equal to get it done wrong.
Michael Waitze 27:38
Yeah, getting it done poorly. I’d rather do nothing than do it wrong. There is a mentality though, in business of doing things super fast. And I have this feeling that even people talk to me about my own business. You’re never going fast enough. And I just think building great things takes time. I really believe that.
Daniel Nguyen 27:56
You always the trade off a great thing is time.
Michael Waitze 27:59
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Let’s
Daniel Nguyen 28:01
let’s Tolstoy wrote over 500 words a day when he wrote the crime and punished I think it was left on storage or it was Dostoevsky. Yeah. We wrote brother cosmos. He was like 500 words a day for like a series of 10 I think five years. Right. And that’s the great work.
Michael Waitze 28:24
Yeah, but that’s the point, though, right? And even people talk about in the startup context, like, if it’s, if it’s not working in a year, if it’s not big enough, in a year, if it’s not worth a billion dollars in a year, it’s not worth building. And the reality is that your biggest businesses in the world, like if I said to somebody, when did Uber start, they might say, oh, three years ago, it was more like 10 years ago. Yeah, it’s 10 years already, something like that. Right. And I think it’s true for every real business. Every big business, even Google didn’t take off in its first like year, was a few years in just methodically build stuff. Yeah. And you’re right, I think one, I think was my ninth grade teacher who said, it’s okay to go fast. But you shouldn’t rush because if you rush, you’re gonna break something.
Daniel Nguyen 29:11
Yeah, right. You definitely are going to make mistake. That’s the thing with fast output. And the thing is, is in the long run, you will be slow. So for example, we build software, right? And one of the key thing about software is that you have to build for scale. Any outsourcing company, if you give them a homework, let’s say ask them to be a function. They probably say to you, yeah, I’m gonna get it done in like a week. You want to get your stuff in a week. But that stuff will last for 100 users. Because it doesn’t build to scale. In order to be able to scale. They’re going to have to take one month to build just the foundational stuff, right? The root is called a pillar. And then you plug things in slowly as you go. You can’t rush it.
Michael Waitze 29:56
Did you learn this on the job? In other words, did you learn this as you were building Are these thoughts that you’ve been having for a long time, and now you’re just putting them into play.
Daniel Nguyen 30:04
I just learned it as we build stuff. As we build stuff, I start reading stuff, like, I just love how experience like I learned from Samsung thing. It’s funny how my brain is probably just how my brain works. So I will just like I will just read like, for example, with Warren Buffett thing, I just read it as like, Oh, I didn’t really think about the money I was thinking was compound interesting, really interesting. And then suddenly, it hit me with that I was saved with arrows. And the same with decision. And that’s how thing kind of linked in my head. And it kind of boiled down to this sort of like philosophy, and we will put in the way we build things.
Michael Waitze 30:40
Tell me again, when did you start building writers then?
Daniel Nguyen 30:44
I think we wrote the first line of code on March of this year. Yeah. It’s It’s very surprising.
Michael Waitze 30:51
Like how do people find out about it? Right?
Daniel Nguyen 30:53
We launched on absolute this marketplace where software when they first built they you kind of launched it and see, to kind of answer your hypothesis, right? You have some hypothesis like, Oh, does it Market Fit product? You know, what does people do? Well, people love it. People love the way we kind of create products. We ended up become the best marketplace deal and optimal model. Marketplace deal. Now, somewhere two months. Did that surprise you? Very much. Yes, very much. Honestly, like I was I was quite insecure about my way of doing things for a while, as like, you know, all these people, they start and they build the building so fast. And then they get money in the owner, like, I built things, but I take things so slow. Everything’s in the design of the product, we build, I know, I know, the amount of radius for each curve of the cart, I know the font size use for each of the body of the headers, I know the color code in each of the background that we use. We were so insanely obsessed with this little details, we have to test out the blue color of the call to action function for almost a week. And the size of the button until I feel I think we get it. So I was like, Am I crazy doing this?
Michael Waitze 32:14
Maybe a little bit, right. But isn’t that okay?
Daniel Nguyen 32:17
I don’t know. Like until now.
Michael Waitze 32:20
It seems to be working.
Daniel Nguyen 32:22
Yeah. But until we launch, and then people rushing in, they’re like, this is the best design product I’ve ever used. And I’ve used 100 of them. And that’s when I realized that. That’s it design over functionality. We spend all this time thinking about our users thinking every single bit of details about how they will interact with it, and the payoff.
Michael Waitze 32:43
And how do you feel about this idea that the customer is always right.
Daniel Nguyen 32:50
Hmm, I don’t know. The customer will. Because you see, there’s always this. You always you’re bonded by it, and a million people will have 100 have a million buyers. Right. Right. Before Apple come up with iPhone, everyone think that the phone that they have is a smartphone. So so we all never know what you really need? Until you see it. Yeah. And the customer are right. Sometimes. Right? A lot of time, but not all the time. I never think of things that way. So it may not be the may not be the best customer centric kind of guys. I’m more of I think team centric.
Michael Waitze 33:34
What does that mean, though?
Daniel Nguyen 33:37
The first priority of our business is to make sure our team, our team understand the philosophy and they are very happy doing what they’re doing. And they are willing to do all of the ability to provide the highest quality output everything they do.
Michael Waitze 33:53
So I think this is actually a really important distinction. I think if you have a company where the employees are super happy. And it doesn’t mean that they’re lazy and not working hard. And just like drinking beer and having cake for dessert, right? It means that they’re super happy about what they’re building. Say it again.
Daniel Nguyen 34:07
That’s not happiness.
Michael Waitze 34:08
No at all. It’s zero. Yeah. But the point is that if your employees are happy, if your teams are happy, if they’re motivated, the the output, which gets back to this idea of quality output should be amazing, because they’re so proud of it. And they’re so happy to be building it. It’s a very different mindset. I think. You can talk about customer centricity. I talk to people about this all the time, and I get it. But if your teams are unhappy, in reverse, I think it’s gonna be really hard to be customer centric, because you’re never gonna build the right stuff. So it’s this weird loop, right? Yeah. That makes sense.
Daniel Nguyen 34:43
The people who interact with your users are not you,
Michael Waitze 34:46
right? They’re your stuff. Yeah, exactly.
Daniel Nguyen 34:49
So your staff should be happy. The staff should be the first one to feel absolutely in love with the job that they’re doing. Love and proud of it. They want to go around and tell people that this is the product I built with a team that I love. I think that’s, I think, to me, that’s one of the key things.
Michael Waitze 35:09
And the other thing I would say is that and not that we should build three star products, but I’ve had better experiences at three star hotels where the staff was insanely great. Then I’ve had five star hotels where the staff is self entitled and terrible.
Daniel Nguyen 35:24
I totally agree. I totally agree. Yeah.
Michael Waitze 35:28
So if you can get people at a five star hotel to behave like they love what they’re doing. It’s heaven, right?
Daniel Nguyen 35:36
It’s a human.
Michael Waitze 35:38
At the end of the day, yeah. You crave that feeling? Right?
Daniel Nguyen 35:42
It’s like going to a five star hotel, you will spend one moment to admire the design. But then the guy who interact with you kind of don’t give a crap of who you are. Suddenly all of that admiration go to church. Yeah. But if you smile, and he say a Miguel just being an all great human being and into interact with you, invite you in so sincere, sincerely, very different between you know, fake doing it and but sincerely doing Yeah, you will suddenly realize that there’s this feeling, it’s not coming from just admiration of the design itself. Right. You know, that, this, this hotel care about me, really, really, truly care about?
Michael Waitze 36:26
Yeah, and I think that other companies can do the same types of things. Look, I don’t want to take up any more of your time, Daniel, it’s been a really great conversation. I really want to thank you for doing this. I’m gonna mispronounce your name again, Daniel. When you win, yes, so close. The CEO and co founder of writers and and really so much more. Daniel, thank you so much for doing this today. I really appreciate we have you back on again as well.
Daniel Nguyen 36:50
Thank you, Michael. Oh, it’s been honor for me.
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