CEO Nguyen Manh Toan, once a finalist in the prestigious Robocon competition of 2008 and the brain behind a groundbreaking graduation project focused on smart building control systems, made a confident leap into entrepreneurship in the burgeoning field of smart home technology.

A visionary startup with a national mission

Mr. Nguyen Manh Toan, CEO of Homegy (Photo: Binh Minh).

"Vietnam is teeming with talent. However, for too long, our nation has been synonymous only with rice exports. Why not cultivate 'Made in Vietnam' tech innovations with substantial intellectual capital and global significance? This thought ignited the spark that led to the inception of Homegy in 2019," said Mr. Nguyen Manh Toan, the General Director of Homegy.

Driven by his unwavering belief in the potential of the smart home industry - a sentiment bolstered by Statista's projection in December 2022, forecasting global smart home revenue to soar to 222.9 billion USD by 2027 - CEO Nguyen Manh Toan set his sights on this promising domain.

Despite his technical background, Mr. Toan recognized his deficiencies in business administration and operations. Undeterred, he spared no expense in recruiting top-tier experts to guide and support Homegy's journey. Yet, securing dedicated and knowledgeable experts in the specialized field of smart home technology proved to be no small feat.

"We invested significantly in assembling our team. Some experts were onboarded with monthly salaries as high as 50 million VND, exclusive of sales commissions. To retain them, we even extended offers of dividends and shares. The total monthly payroll for our expert team amounted to hundreds of millions of VND. Regrettably, despite our best efforts, this team faced numerous challenges and disbanded after a mere six months. But as they say, without taking risks, how can one discern success from failure?" Mr. Toan quipped.

In its inaugural year, Homegy's revenue amounted to a modest sum, primarily stemming from transactions with friends and acquaintances.

"We adopted a dealer-based distribution model over retail. Many partners were drawn to collaborate based on their faith in our passion and drive. One such partner, Mr. Thanh, a distributor in Thai Nguyen, has stood by us since our inception. Initially contemplating departure after an encounter with one of our sales representatives, Mr. Thanh was persuaded by our vision, investing 300 million VND to become our distributor in Thai Nguyen. As the proprietor of a business with over 300 employees, he recognized that monetary gain is not the sole measure of success; entrepreneurs must also contribute meaningfully to their homeland and nation," shared the CEO of Homegy.

Shortly after its market debut, Homegy confronted a formidable challenge in the form of the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing global economic downturn.

"Commencing operations during such tumultuous market conditions often left me questioning our prospects. Thankfully, following a baptism by fire, Homegy has thrived for five years, attaining a degree of maturity. Presently, our distribution network spans nearly all 63 provinces and cities, boasting over 150 distributors and agents nationwide," confided Mr. Toan.

Investing in Research and Development (R&D) 

Homegy engineers meticulously develop and master both hardware and software in-house. Photo by Binh Minh

The founder of Homegy recognized that to transform his vision into reality, R&D must serve as the cornerstone. R&D, considered the linchpin of a business's success or failure, necessitates unwavering focus on product development—especially in the nascent stages of startups. Accordingly, the company allocates over 30% of its budget annually to R&D endeavors.

"Embracing a comprehensive approach—from hardware to software—Homegy engineers develop and master technology internally. For all our products, we meticulously design and fabricate our molds, imprinting our logo to safeguard our brand and shield consumers from counterfeit goods. The cost of crafting a single product mold, if executed meticulously, can reach upwards of 200 to 300 million VND. With our ecosystem encompassing hundreds of product variants, the investment in molds alone is substantial," revealed Mr. Toan.

Homegy stands as a trailblazer in integrating Bluetooth Mesh technology into smart home solutions. Last October, the company unveiled its second-generation Smarthome solution, featuring a two-way voice response controller integrating Bluetooth Mesh and infrared wave technologies—a pioneering offering in the market.

Despite existing voice-controlled products such as Amazon's Alexa and OLLI's Maika, Homegy identified a critical gap—dependency on the internet. In response, the Sapphira voice control product was conceived to operate autonomously, eschewing a server and internet reliance. Offering multifunctional capabilities, including TV, fan, and air conditioner control, the product features native Vietnamese voice control—a testament to Homegy's commitment to inclusivity.

Homegy's vision extends beyond smart homes. With plans to develop Smartbuilding, Smarthotel, Smartfarm, and Smart City solutions, the company aims to revolutionize multiple sectors.

With the ambition to become a global technology leader, Homegy is not just eyeing domestic dominance but is gradually expanding its footprint in international markets.

"Transitioning from a startup with limited resources to a world-class technology corporation is a journey of endurance, not a sprint. While ambition fuels acceleration, sustainable growth demands meticulous planning and incremental progress. We have already established partnerships in Russia and are exploring export opportunities in Southeast Asian markets. Tailoring our designs to resonate with each market's cultural and social fabric, we aim to cater to the diverse needs and preferences of our global clientele," envisioned Mr. Toan.

"To catapult Vietnamese-branded products onto the global stage demands substantial resources. Alone, progress may be slow and arduous. We yearn for more partnerships, especially government support. Presently, Vietnam lacks robust policy mechanisms to catalyze the explosive growth of technology startups. Young ventures like ours require nurturing to yield the bountiful harvests of tomorrow," expressed the CEO of Homegy, outlining his fervent desire.

Binh Minh