My grandfather gave me 3 gifts that changed my life: Tribee CEO
Paweł Górski, CEO & Co-founder of Tribee.
The gifts must be very important to you. What are they?
I was born in Poland, in the small town Opole, near Czech Republic and Germany. My parents divorced when I was two years old. My grandparents helped my mom to raise me. My grandfather wanted me to inherit and take care of his agricultural business but I chose the adventure and moved to Vietnam to build my own company.
My grandfather gave me 3 gifts that changed my life. First, he paid for my English language classes which opened global opportunities for me. Second, When I was 8 years old, he enrolled me in a football club, and for the next 10 years, I changed from a chubby clumsy boy, to a school team captain, and with my team we finished as the 7th team in the whole country.
Football shaped my character to be ambitious, never give up, and put maximum effort until it’s over. Football made me prepared for leadership roles that I held until this day. Football was also my first paid job in Vietnam as I worked with Vietnamese and expat kids as a football coach in 2014.
Lastly, my grandfather paid for my ticket to Vietnam 11 years ago. Finally this year, he is coming to Vietnam himself to join my wedding this July. I will marry a Vietnamese girl.
|Paweł Górski is seen while celebrating Christmas with his grandfather.|
Could you share more about your fiancé? How did you meet her?
We met coincidentally. After she came back from her studies in London, one of her friends invited her to an event via Facebook. They invited me too. I couldn’t come but I looked up at the guest list and got really interested in her so I wrote to her via Facebook and persuaded her to meet me.
She was dating someone else so it took me a few months to convince her that I was a better deal. Entrepreneurs never give up so I persisted until she agreed. That was 5 years ago and we will get married in this July.
Her name is Trinh Khanh Ha. She is co-founder of another company called Vulcan Augmetics which is developing cutting-edge technology for assistive devices, focusing now on prosthetic arms and their tech (100% developed in Vietnam) is already recognized as one of the most advanced globally. Interesting fact, Yoobic in Europe is worth over $300 million at the moment.
How did you decide to live in Vietnam?
I came to Vietnam from Poland in 2012 as a fresh graduate. I was very concerned to leave my family 9,000km away. I know that many Vietnamese parents would prevent their children to travel so far instead of staying to take care of the family. I was fortunate that my mother advised me to focus on my own goals and do what I think is right for me.
I was looking for a 1-year adventure in a country far different than my own. I got involved with AIESEC - a global network for youth leadership development. A few months later the team in Vietnam chose me as the country manager. We created life-changing experiences for thousands of students and the experience opened many opportunities for me to engage with business leaders of large Vietnamese companies partnering with AIESEC.
My network grew and I decided to stay in Vietnam. I’ve met the founder of Mobivi, a company that had an amazing mission of improving the lives of frontline workers. I worked with him for the next 5 years expanding the business and our impact to more than 3 million female factory workers in Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines,…
|Paweł Górski (wearing glass) is seen with his friend during his childhood.|
How did the idea to start Tribee come up?
Many of my close friends in Vietnam have started their own businesses and their founder journeys excited me. Gradually I realized that my responsibilities in my past job were very similar to what a company founder does - selling, fundraising, recruiting, building a product, and defining a business model,…
A friend once asked me what held me back from starting my own business. “It’s a risk,” I said. “And what would you do if you were not afraid?” - he asked me. “I would go for it” was my answer and so I decided to go for it and start.
It was clear to me that I wanted my business to make a positive difference in people’s lives. We started as HR tech to help solve the employee turnover problem. But we quickly realized that it’s not among the top 3 priorities of the business so we shifted the focus into helping businesses grow their revenue while empowering their frontline sales teams to succeed - sell more, serve customers better, and earn more income and career opportunities as a result.
Working with customers very closely allowed us to realize that businesses in Vietnam and Southeast Asia lose a lot of revenue ($3m/year for a medium-sized retail chain) because they don’t have the ability to ensure their sales teams are maximizing their sales opportunities, and delivering excellent customer service.
We realized that we can help these teams to engage customers better, upsell and cross-sell more, by providing the right incentives and required knowledge.
We live in exciting times where AI and Machine Learning can be applied in all spheres of life. We use it to help us bring the right knowledge and incentives to the right salespeople at the right time so it’s always relevant, engaging, and effective.
How did you come under the pandemic as a young startup? Was there any tragedy?
When Covid lockdown started, we used to serve offline retail clients. They all had to close so we ended up with no customer in one day!
We took it as an opportunity to explore how to help these businesses to continue selling. It led us to realize another opportunity - we partnered with a multinational brand and helped them to empower their sales agents to sell better via online channels. They onboarded these agents on our mobile app, provided daily coaching to improve sales knowledge, and provided incentives paid out from our platform. All digitally. As a result, these sales agents started generating revenue in thousands of USD within just 10 days of the project.
Interestingly, after the lockdown, businesses decided to shut down these new innovative channels and come back to their well-tested traditional channels.
So we adapted again and followed our clients but this time, with stronger tech, allowing more flexibility which we gained during covid lockdown.
And what challenges did you face when starting a business in VN, not your home country and without many friends and relatives?
Of course, there are challenges in starting a business in a place where I’m a foreigner. Initially, I’ve made certain assumptions about my business model using my experience from Europe and I failed. I remember meeting the CEO of one of the largest securities companies in Vietnam in 2014. I prepared a professional and formal presentation about our organization and he was not interested at all! He was ready to send us off but luckily, my Vietnamese team member joined the discussion and won the deal for us by building a strong personal connection with our future partner. That was a great cultural lesson for me that I will never forget.
To date, I have met over 100 Vietnamese business leaders and listening to them very carefully as well as using the support of my local team members, helps us move forward and succeed.
I learned to take advantage of the opportunities while building a team that compensates for my weaknesses.
For example, I bring certain experiences and mindsets from the West so I’m able to add value by creating a truly international working environment to our employees and international service standards for the customers.
On the other hand, I still face language barriers when working with the customers’ teams so I need to build a strong team that can carry the responsibility and help me to understand the feedback from clients. My team also helps me to understand the culture aspects that are easy to miss for a foreigner.
Lastly, being away from friends and family while starting a business may feel lonely and overwhelming at times. It has been crucial to build the right support system which includes my own team, our investors but also personal friends I’ve made here, and most of all, my future wife, who comes from Phu Yen province even though we grew up with completely different worlds, we understand and support each other like nobody else.
|Biti's partnership launch|
How is your business model?
Our company is a SaaS (Software as a Service) platform. It means that our clients can use Tribee any time they like and stop using it when they wish. But hardly ever do they stop.
There is no other sales tech platform focused on frontline sales employees like retail in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. The closest one is yoobic.com but they serve customers in US and Europe mostly.
In Vietnam and Asia, most companies are still using Excel spreadsheets to manage their sales team performance and reports and they use Zalo to send any knowledge and other communication to help their sales teams improve. So you can say that these are our “competitors” in that sense. But obviously using spreadsheets and Zalo is not an effective way when you have more than 50 salespeople in your company. So the pain point of how to empower frontline sales teams to convert more sales is still there and we are here to help them with that.
I can’t share about revenue/profit at this point due to some agreements with our investors. I can share that we have seen increased interest and we are about to grow 3 times in this quarter due to the recent development of the new sales coaching solutions. With these solutions, our clients can automate the sales coaching process and ensure their salespeople get the right sales tips at the right time to help them sell more. This has met a lot of interest in the market recently.
We have support from large global investors like 500 Startups, Antler, Springcamp (associate of Naver - Korea largest tech), and some local experts. As we see new opportunities to add more value to customers by developing our tech and growing further, we are continuously looking for new investors.