Dreamless, 90s startup mini projector: Spends millions to learn 2 concepts, declares to outsmart formidable Chinese rival, ready to combat with sharks to seal lucrative deal

"I strive for my products to be beautiful, convenient, and easily portable. My motto is 'love at first sight', like love at first sight. To me, if it's not beautiful, it's not sellable," the witty founder of Beecube shared about his brainchild.

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Phan Anh Vũ (born in 1995) is a young man who came to the hometown of Uncle Ho – Nghe An and introduced the “sharks” to the mini movie projector Beecube. The audience had the chance to witness a “combat” with 1-0-2 between him and the Sharks.

With confidence and determination, he pointed out the outstanding features, market capacity, and future development direction of the product. As a result, he received many attractive offers. Shark Tuệ Lâm made a “deal” of 8 billion VND for a 22% stake with option 1 being 4 billion VND for an 11% stake and 4 billion VND as a loan; option 2 is the right to buy back half of the shares after 1 year with praise: “At your age, I haven’t done as much as this”. The proposal by Shark Tuệ Lâm was so attractive that Shark Hùng Anh even exclaimed: “This deal is the most appealing, I’m being honest.” Shark Nguyễn Hòa Bình proposed 8 billion VND, recovering the capital in 3 years and receiving a 20% profit in the 4th year.

Seeing the “sharks” determined to close the deal, Shark Minh Beta stood up to open the safe and hand the Golden Ticket to Anh Vũ, expressing a desire to have a longer future and go a long way together. The deal closed between Anh Vũ and Shark Minh Beta was: 8 billion VND for a 22.5% stake in the company. Currently, Anh Vũ has 6 stores spread from the North to the South, not to mention distribution partners.

It is known that Phan Anh Vũ graduated in Finance and Banking (Foreign Trade University). However, after graduating, he turned to Technology – a field unrelated to his major because of his burning passion since high school. He shared that in the past, his family was still struggling financially, so he couldn’t afford electronic devices, especially electronic equipment. However, whenever a new product was launched, he got all the information through images on the internet and researched their functions. He even went to Thế Giới Di Động just to admire the displayed products.

Especially in one English class in grade 11, it was the first time Phan Anh Vũ had contact with a projector. He was extremely surprised, mixed with curiosity and interest. He kept asking: “Why do projectors only serve for teaching and not for entertainment? I want to have a mini projector in my room to watch movies in the future?” The curiosity back then laid the foundation for his “startup” today.

01. When a Finance and Banking graduate “starts up” in the Technology field…

– Did your family object when you pursued a different profession outside of your major?

I liked Technology, but I didn’t take the entrance exam for the Polytechnic University, I chose the Foreign Trade University because I followed the trend of choosing a major in the countryside, without a clear direction.

My family and teachers were not surprised because during high school, I constantly changed majors, aspirations, and eventually… followed the majority. I had no direction, no “mindset”, and now my weakest subject is still Finance despite graduating in Finance and Banking. However, I think university is a valuable experience that brings opportunities to pursue my passion for doing business in the technology industry.

After having stable revenue in phone accessory business, I returned to researching the idea of a projector. In mid-June 2020, I “started up” the mini projector.

I imported various types of projectors to examine their appearance, features, and prices. I spent a lot of money just to learn about 2 concepts: Actual resolution and maximum resolution. Many brands claim their products are full HD but when experiencing them, I realized that it was not true, the actual resolution did not meet expectations. To learn more, I bought many projectors, spending hundreds of millions of VND just to understand: The actual resolution belongs to the LED LCD panel, while the maximum resolution is the input signal. At the end of 2020, I found the first factory that produces full HD LED LCD panels.

After that, I discussed with 3 teammates and realized that differentiation and competitive advantages in terms of price would not develop. Regarding the product brand, I chose the bee symbol – representing diligence and perseverance. After discussing, we named the brand Beecube – a bee-shaped box. The product’s shape is also similar to a bee, with wings and eyes… At the same time, after selling many products, in April 2021, I established the company, registered the brand, and obtained all necessary licenses.

– Working in a field unrelated to your major, how did you solve the technology problem?

At first, I didn’t have R&D money, just simply imported products from China, but couldn’t use them. The reason was that the software and language were not compatible, so I had to find someone to research everything again. The success came after one month, the first batches had a small quantity of about 12, 20, 30 units.

All the technology relied on Chinese partners. First, I analyzed competitors in the market and provided a draft to them.

– You started “startup” at the end of 2020, which was also the time when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, did that bring difficulties for you?

Actually, the COVID-19 pandemic was a booming period for sales, not difficulties like many other businesses. People stayed at home and watched more movies, so movie projectors sold very well. Moreover, it was at the beginning of the pandemic, so the economy had not been heavily affected. In just one night, I had a viral clip with 7 million views, and the next morning, I closed 200 orders. I didn’t have many products in stock because I didn’t have much money to import, so I had to ask the factory to send as soon as possible. The retail revenue that month reached nearly 1 billion VND. I felt very happy, but I didn’t forget to relax after the victory.

In 2022, with the complex development of the pandemic, it finally affected the business. Borders closed, goods couldn’t be imported, and the market faced a scarcity of products. In the end, I found a way with high transportation costs, four times higher than sea or land routes. But I accepted it to prevent the interruption of the supply chain, and the consequence was a 3-month-long loss.

After that, I seriously reconsidered and outlined a specific strategy for Beecube. In March 2022, I was determined to develop products to be able to “feed” a team of 15 people. The direction is B2B2C to enter chains, cooperate with retailers like Điện Máy Xanh and CellPhone S,… Finally, this strategy was right, by the end of 2022, I went from 7 billion VND retail sales to 25 billion VND B2B, with B2B accounting for 70%. In 2023, I continued to maintain that strategy and entered a stable trajectory, proving the product’s quality in the market.

– Do you think your product has any breakthrough differences compared to other mini movie projectors on the market?

On Shark Tank, Shark Nguyễn Hòa Bình commented that my product was similar to many other brands. And I spent 45 minutes to demonstrate the difference of Beecube.

Firstly, my products have a beautiful, consistent appearance, with youthful and dynamic colors and styles. On the other hand, old projectors look very rough, bulky, lacking aesthetics, and quite heavy. I want my products to be beautiful, convenient, and easy to carry. The motto is “love at first sight”, like love at first sight. To me, if it’s not beautiful, it won’t be sold.

Secondly, the product has an unbeatable configuration in its price range. I always create differentiation, enhance the value of the product in the same segment. For example, I built a separate app store, developed apps, so users of Beecube devices can download and use them, creating a closed ecosystem. Or my products have a Vietnamese virtual assistant – something that projectors running on the Android operating system do not have, creating friendliness with Vietnamese users. This is also something that Shark Phạm Thanh Hưng highly appreciated.

Finally, the civilized sales culture and customer care after the sale were evaluated positively. Customers who come to the store all have an experience room and a separate payment room. We have a group of 23,000 members, where they share defects and questions that will be quickly answered. My staff will follow up, video call and support after 11pm every day. In addition, our product warranty is 12 months with a 1-for-1 exchange policy, we won’t repair faulty products, but replace them with new ones for customers. Currently, the product return rate is less than 4%.

– Beecube is a Vietnamese brand but manufactured in China, are you afraid that customers will equate Beecube with low-quality Chinese projectors?

I’m not worried about this issue, for example, Apple phones are an American brand but manufactured in China, it’s normal. In the future, I don’t think I’ll manufacture in Vietnam because the components that make up a projector are very complex, if we produce in Vietnam, the cost will increase at least 1.5 times. Let’s be realistic, we can’t produce low-cost technology products yet, so it’s best to optimize.

– The price positioning of your products includes various price ranges: 2 million, 4 million, 6 million, 16 million – what are the criteria for this division?

Firstly, I base the product price on different usage needs.

Secondly, the product segment is based on space, room size to ensure optimal functionality. If other brands advise customers to buy large, high-brightness projectors, I don’t do that. I sell what customers need, not what I have. Customers don’t understand the specifications, so introducing them is almost meaningless. I only ask about the room size to recommend the most suitable product.

02. Diligence will create miracles, always maintain the attitude of learning from anyone

– What is your daily routine like?

If an ordinary person works 8 hours a day, then I work from the time I wake up until I go to bed. Every day has a detailed work schedule, every task has a specific time to maintain high discipline.

Previously, there weren’t many social media platforms like now, I only focused on selling on my personal Facebook page. Every morning when I wake up, I always think about what content I need to post to sell products or have initiatives for expanding the customer base. Until now, I still do the same, writing tasks that require less time first, and tasks that require more time later, gradually becoming a good habit.

In addition, I persistently package orders and ship products without hesitating, there were even shipping orders at 11 pm in the cold winter. However, for the Gen Z supporters who have been with me from the beginning, they have intelligence and quickly approach the market but have no depth, and they get tired quickly, so they leave on their own.

– How does the process of learning new things happen for you?

As a self-taught person, I learn from those who came before me. I always have an attitude, that is to learn continuously, position myself as knowing nothing, and always listen.

I once “hunted” a master of Marketing, just talking to him throughout the session to learn one thing: Branding needs its own identity, colors, personality, and font. And then, when I came back, I completely changed the old brand image within a month.

– How did you market your products to build a community with 23,000 members?

The group was developed since August 2021, as a place for people who have used and are interested in the product to exchange and help spread the word. Previously, I posted to attract interaction. When the group reached 1,000 members, it “sustained itself”, and I reduced the frequency of posting to let everyone exchange with each other.

A product should not be too perfect, too sweet, sometimes it must have this or that defect to gradually upgrade. And I don’t just read all the articles but also respond to each comment, whether it’s praise or criticism. This also shows diligence. Previously, it was diligent in delivering goods throughout Hanoi, and now it is diligent in sitting and typing to support customers.

03. Exciting “combat” with the “sharks”

– When Shark Hùng Anh commented that your product cannot be as bright and clear as traditional TVs, what do you think?

Taking a projector and a TV for comparison is difficult because they are two completely different technologies. TVs emit light directly to the user’s eyes, while projectors project onto walls and then reflect into the user’s eyes. So if we want to compare, it will be very difficult, we can only compare in certain usage scenarios.

If we want to buy a 100-inch TV, we have to spend a lot of money, so if we have a lot of money, we won’t discuss it anymore. But the problem is that we have little money but still want to have a good experience. For example, with 5 – 7 million VND, we can only buy a 40-inch TV, but with that amount of money, we can buy a 120-inch projector, which gives a different feeling.

Moreover, projectors are portable and very easy to take on picnics or trips, so they will gradually gain an advantage over TVs.

– All the sharks are worried about the future outlook: Shark Bình believes that this product is just a “trend”, Shark Hưng is skeptical about the situation in the next 5 – 10 years. What do you think about this issue?

I think it’s not just a “trend”, it’s like old TVs, from cumbersome, thick screens to thin screens. Similarly, projectors will have upgrades to improve them. Besides selling projectors, I will R&D satellite products, and at the same time have an ecosystem to serve the market.

– You confidently shared that you have ousted a formidable Chinese competitor from the market. So do you think you will expand the market to other countries in the future?

That has been my dream since 2023. I think expanding into the European market because it will bring higher profits. I will redesign everything, quite painstaking.

– How did you feel when Shark Minh Beta handed out the Golden Ticket? Besides this, the reason why you chose to collaborate with Shark is that both of you are active in the film industry, right?

Before going on Shark Tank, I liked Shark Minh Beta because of Beta Cinema. And then, when I listened to Shark’s analysis, I saw that they were right, and I respected them because we had the same “mindset”. About the Golden Ticket, to be honest, I was a bit stunned… not because I was happy, but because I didn’t understand how to continue negotiating with that ticket. When Shark Hưng explained, I understood all the privileges.

Actually, on Shark Tank, there are mixed emotions, and there is no time to observe the emotions and attitudes of the “sharks”. I only focused on answering the questions of the Sharks as quickly as possible, and my mind was filled with countless thoughts and had to calmly present them within a short time.

Thank you for the conversation!

SOURCEcafef
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