S03E03: Laura Phan, Founder & CEO of iZi Community, Vietnam

When I was 21, I decided to start my own business especially after visiting Silicon Valley for two weeks for training. I met many big tech company founders and I was inspired. When I came back to Vietnam, I raised a bit of funds and started my business. I was very eager to do something and to start something. 

Laura Phan

In this episode, I spoke to Laura Phan who is the Founder & CEO of iZi Community in Vietnam which is an online platform for learners and content creators. It uses gamification and AI to spur learners to learn in a fun and delightful way.

truc dao phan laura izi vietnam edu tech platform
Laura created iZi Community, an ed-tech platform, to connect learners and content creators in Vietnam
based on the concept of snack-sized learning. She says, “Innovation is intelligence having fun and impact.”

It is interesting that Laura started her ed-tech startup in December 2020 and in less than a year, the platform has amassed 45,000 users from 50 countries.

Laura is a non-tech woman founder of her startup. She leads a team of programmers who are innovating on the platform even as the platform is live and buzzing with users.

We went really deep into her experiences and story for this episode. Our conversation flowed from one topic to another yet never disjointed or uncomfortable.

She often got bored at school and it was at university that this boredom spun her in a direction that completely changed her life! 

Why do I want to do this business and how do I define my own success? The biggest lesson I learned is to have a clear purpose. When I decided to do this [business], the rest was about technical matters like how to do it, how to start it, how to hire people, how to hire people, how to scale the business, how to fundraising. This is all technical work and we can all learn that.

She was bold and took risks and at a young age, already travelling the world and working with people of different nationalities. Yet it was one comment that kicked her into starting her first business. 

“I became a training specialist at World Bank when I was 20 and started my first company when I was 21 with 30 full-time staff,” says Laura.

It was an intense journey for her that made her look deep into herself for answers.

“I was back in the startup ecosystem in 2018 working for the Vietnam government and happy I found my passion in iZi which makes me feel [life is] meaningful every day,” says Laura.

This is one episode where you will get more than just a glimpse into the life of a woman tech founder who doesn’t have a tech background but is forging ahead anyway with lots of gumption!

Besides English and her native Vietnamese, she speaks Japanese too. If you want to understand how Laura thinks about education for the 21st century, check out the article she wrote on LinkedIn.

Her favourite role models are Hermes, Einstein, Steve Jobs and Gandhi while she loves books such as Kybalion, Sapiens, Man’s Search for Meaning and Siddhartha. 

I tend to internalize a lot of things, and I’m very independent. So when I first started my business, I did it with everything I had. I didn’t ask for support. I didn’t ask for advice, nothing. I just went ahead. People told me, oh, you’re going to fail. You’re going to not become successful.I ignored all of them. I just went ahead.  

In this episode, Laura talks about:

  • How she defines success and its counterpart, failure 
  • How she started her business at 21 because she wanted to prove a point to her critics
  • What she learnt from her failure in the early days of her business
  • How she decided to get back into business when she saw an opportunity open up during the pandemic lockdown
  • Her own feelings about education prompted her to rethink education 
  • How she didn’t focus on the money when she started and why this is important
  • What’s important to know for non-tech women startup founders like her 
  • How she validated her ed tech idea (and what we can learn from this process)
  • The habits that she practices daily to ensure she is always on the path she wants for herself

Connect with Laura on https://www.linkedin.com/in/lauradaophan or https://www.facebook.com/trucdao.pnn

Take our survey and let us know your thoughts about our podcast.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *