The Drama of a Startup: From Borrowed Offices to 149% Yearly Growth

TikToker, Hằng Du Mục, recently went live with a partner, FoodMap, a leading Vietnamese agtech startup. The live session, titled "5 Minutes to 12 Tons of Durian," aimed to promote Vietnamese agriculture and connect farmers with consumers. However, the event took an unfortunate turn due to some ill-chosen words by a representative from the farm. As a result, FoodMap has been receiving a wave of one-star reviews on their TikTok shop.

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FoodMap Asia partnered with TikToker Hang Du Muc for a live session on July 7, featuring durian sales.

The Durian Drama

On July 7, Hang Du Muc, one of the most prominent TikTokers at present, hosted a live agricultural product sales session that caught everyone’s attention. An impressive 12 tons of durian were sold within just 5 minutes. The live session also featured the collaboration of Quang Linh Vlog, another influential figure on social media with a TikTok channel boasting 4.1 million followers.

We prepared for this program for over a month, with the goal of selling an entire container of durian, ranging from 15 to 17 tons. The majority of the durian was SRI 6 from Dak Lak, with a small quantity of Musang King durian from Khanh Hoa. As early as July 7, the durian started being delivered to consumers to ensure its quality,” said Pham Ngoc Anh Tung, Founder of FoodMap Asia, the partner supplying durian for the live session, in an interview with the media.

The live session on July 7 seemed to be a huge success for Hang Du Muc, promoting the consumption of Vietnamese agricultural products through online sales channels. However, an incident occurred during the evening sales hour, involving a representative of the durian farm, Ms. Nguyen Thai Huyen, also known as “O Huyen Sau Rieng,” who is the owner of HTN Agrigreen Import-Export Company.

Specifically, Ms. Huyen received a lot of complaints on social media for talking too much, overshadowing the channel owner, Hang Du Muc, and making inappropriate remarks that put Quang Linh Vlog in a difficult position.

Consequently, many people called for order cancellations, leaving angry reactions on Nguyen Thai Huyen’s and FoodMap’s social media pages, and giving one-star reviews. Currently, FoodMap’s TikTok Shop storefront has dropped to 3.2 stars, and their shopping cart has been set to “hidden.”

FoodMap: A Startup Born Out of Passion for Vietnamese Agriculture

Following the “durian drama,” FoodMap posted a video on TikTok pleading with customers not to cancel their orders, explaining that the live session was the result of “over 30 days of hard work and effort in selecting from more than 50 durian farms and working with over 100 associates, carefully choosing each durian from farms practicing safe cultivation, and meticulously inspecting and packaging the fruit… “

Despite our thorough preparations, we couldn’t avoid some oversights, both subjective and objective. FoodMap apologizes for the less-than-ideal experience during the July 7 live session,” the company stated.

FoodMap (full name: UFO Technology and Trading Co., Ltd.) was established in December 2018 as a startup in the field of high-tech agriculture, specializing in connecting farmers with consumers by directly purchasing, promoting, trading, and delivering agricultural products to consumers.

The founder of FoodMap, Pham Ngoc Anh Tung, is a graduate of Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology with expertise in technology, particularly automation. He decided to start FoodMap when he witnessed the exceptional quality of Vietnamese agricultural produce yet struggling to succeed in both domestic and international markets.

In a sharing from 2022, Anh Tung mentioned that when he first started FoodMap, he had nothing but his passion and determination, literally “barehanded to fight the enemy.”

The website was made with the help of friends, and our first office was lent to us by Mr. Hai Ninh, the founder of The Coffee House. The first debts we incurred were agreed upon by the farmers to be paid later. Thanks to my deep involvement in agriculture and the strong relationships I built with the farming community, I was able to start my entrepreneurial journey even with empty hands,” shared the founder of FoodMap.

Founder of FoodMap, Pham Ngoc Anh Tung.

In July 2020, FoodMap received an investment from WaveMaker fund, marking the beginning of their journey towards professionalism. During the period from July 2020 to September 2021, the company moved to a new office, gradually became a “top-of-mind” brand in the market, achieved a sevenfold growth in revenue, concluded their pre-Series A round with four investors, and secured nearly $3 million in funding. As of November 2022, Anh Tung shared that FoodMap had been maintaining a remarkable 149% annual growth rate.

According to the website, in over five years of operation, FoodMap has supplied more than 2,000 types of agricultural and food products sourced from over 300 farms and 500 agricultural producers in Vietnam. The company provides goods to major retail chains such as Metro Mart, Bach Hoa Xanh, and Lotte, as well as online channels, including their website, foodmap.asia, and various e-commerce platforms.

What sets FoodMap apart from other agricultural startups is its focus on technology. Anh Tung emphasized that logistics and warehousing are physical investments, but it’s the technology that truly connects and optimizes operations.

How can FoodMap update agricultural produce prices in real-time? How can our sales team instantly access price information to make competitive offers to customers? How can we optimize transportation and storage?” the founder questioned.

In the coming years, alongside our goal of elevating Vietnamese agricultural and specialty products in the domestic market, FoodMap will also focus on supporting local businesses and enterprises in exporting their products worldwide,” Anh Tung shared.

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