Building an Internet Marketing Company in Saigon, Vietnam With Karl Kangur

Michael MicheliniBusiness, Ecommerce, Podcast2 Comments


Our second part of a two part series while I was in Vietnam – this week we have Karl Kangur, an internet marketing guru who is making moves in Saigon Vietnam. I visited his office on the last day of my trip, just before the airport and was able to get some insights on how he came out to Saigon, as well as perspectives on local staff, company set up, and managing teams as well as in the internet marketing space, enjoy!

Topics Covered in this Episode

  • Intro Karl

    You just had an epic birthday party – and not sure if you’re shy to reveal on the podcast – but amazing age milestone of 21 years old! You’ve been out here in Saigon for 3 years now? Very cool you are taking action in building a business at such a young age.

  • Internet Marketing beginnings

    How did you first get into the internet marketing game?

  • Setting Up Shop in Vietnam

    So, from my few days here in Vietnam I’m already tempted in tapping more into the local talent scene. What is the deal here with getting operations going?

  • Kinds of talent

    What are the kinds of skill sets you are hiring here in Vietnam? Do you exclusively work with full time people here or leverage an online team as well for other skill sets?

  • Costs of talent

    I keep hearing how good the talent is and how affordable. Can you share with us some of the salary ranges for what kinds of experiences you can get here?

  • Managing a local team

    Each culture has its own styles, let’s call it style. What I have noticed is the local Vietnamese are very shy towards foreigners. Are you directly managing the staff, or do you have a local manager helping out with the day to day management? I’m curious some strategies for keeping your team happy, motivated, and optimized.

  • Need for a locally established business?

    Do people need to incorporate in Vietnam? I am happy to be working with you on your Hong Kong set up we did for you earlier this year – thanks for that – what are some tips you see others doing for incorporating locally here.

  • Tips for others setting up shop in Vietnam

    How should others get started in their expansion to Vietnam?

  • How to find out more about you and your business

    Thanks Karl – how can people find you online?

People / Companies / Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Episode Length 30:09

Thank you Karl for coming on and sharing. I love how he just took action and made it out to Vietnam on his own – especially at such a young age. Still wondering how my kids will deal with those decisions once they get older.

Hope you guys enjoy the rest of your week. I am going to be resting up as it was a long last couple weeks with Rise, Techcrunch, and Vietnam trip. But we are making big moves here at Global From Asia and I appreciate you joining us for the ride – even if you’re just a passive listener – I appreciate it – although I do hope you take action and get involved.

I’m enjoying these local chapters getting setup – had a great call with Claudia, Estaban, and Santiago on the GFA Miami chapter as well as Columbia and South America! We truly are going Global – from Asia – as our name says.

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Podcast Transcription

“I think Vietnam is a very good place for kind of front work. These people are, they are very intelligent, they are very good in marketing, but they just they’re not very good on online staff.”

Welcome to the Global From Asia podcast where the daunting process of running an international business is broken down into straight up actionable advice and now your host, Michael Michelini.

Mike: Also we forget to our intro today, there could be some exciting, we’re gonna be doing a project that kinda outline right now and make it the community involved is a pretty big decision for me in the business. And stay tuned next week will have more information about that.

Mike: Okay. Global From Asia episode 184, what’s the URL, Claire?

Claire: It’s www.globalfromasia.com/episode184.

Mike: Great! As always, we’ll have show notes there and other fun stuff and we have in here. I think we will put a video clip in there, too. We’re at RISE Conference and right off the bed. I was in the other, I was actually maybe asleep, you guys are late but what happened on Monday, I think it was last Monday, Andrew.

Andre: So, yeah. On Monday, we were at the convention center. We’re lost asking for directions and we talked to someone named Louis. He’s probably listening right now and she recognized Claire’s voice and she got really excited and she asked Claire if she was the girl from the podcast that’s what her words literally.

Mike: Wow, Claire, how does it feel?

Claire: I’m just, I was surprised to be honest, because like I never really cover.

Mike: Nice, you’re doing a good job. You’re getting more involved on interviews or some other things in the future and Claire is doing great. We’re all pretty exhausted for doing this on Friday the week before the show goes live and intense week at RISE Conference and we also did a couple of Global From Asia events. We have one in Hong Kong, Wednesday night with Ricardo Lee, he’s ex-eBay Shenzhen director and he’s innovator and tons experience in e-commerce. He will be sharing on Thursday. We have one in Shenzhen, was like e-commerce pitch night with like how many people Claire, like 80 or something?

Claire: No, like a lot, 80.

Mike: 80 or some people were pretty awesome. And the video blogs for all these, you can check it out. We’ll link on the show notes. We’ll also put the Luis encounter and we got that on video so we’ll put that on show notes. Episode 184. And the things are going great we also got some local sponsors you wanna talk about some local sponsors, Claire?

Claire: Yes, we have liked 60 startups and also one direct ship sponsor the event and also last month, sponsor our event so it’s gonna be 6 month sponsorship.

Mike: Yeah. So they are supporting our show. Supporting our Shenzhen chapter events so they are all really supporting our movement of this local chapter and we’re talking people other cities and we have some great calls with Claudia, Esteban and Santiago in Miami and South America, Colombia. Things are going crazy around the world and Andrew’s been really busy talking a lot right here, help out kind of chapter organizer coordination. So great job, Andrew. And so now, for this week’s show, we have with us Karl Kangur. He is, I just saw he came to RISE Conference. Well he is Estonian and he is based in Saigon, Vietnam. So we got to meet while were down in Vietnam and wandering that time. I interview right before to the airport about his, how he moved to Saigon from Estonia, how he’s kind start his own internet marketing business, how he’s working with staff there his office, so kinda like, kinda follow John Mayer’s last week about Saigon. This is 2 part of series about Saigon and people like us we’re talking about different parts of Asia. We got some in RISE conference as well Japan and other markets talk in Taiwan. We’re trying to different parts of Asia as well. This is continuation of our Saigon, Vietnam trips series, enjoy.

Mike: Alright! Thank you everybody for tuning in. We’re here in Saigon. Is the Saigon or Ho Chi Minh?

Karl: It depends. South we call Saigon and in the North it’s still called Ho Chi Minh or vice versa. I might extremely wrong about this.

Mike: Alright, we have with us, airport I have to get this podcast in Karl Kangur. So thanks for being in the show, Karl.

Karl: Thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure to be on.

Mike: Yes, great man. I’m here in your office and I’m excited for today’s show, you’ve been, you know you’re doing really amazing things and just had an epic birthday party. I was there for the beginning.

Karl: Did you enjoy that part?

Mike: Yeah. I had a great time.

Karl: And it only got better?

Mike: I’m sorry. I know i shouldn’t think I’m old but I’m, no then.

Karl: We all need our excuses.

Mike: It’s true. Well, so today we’re talking some business for Global From Asia. I’m curious to learn also, the, some of your stories here, your own story but also kinda like setting up this operations here in Saigon and i think it’s a great place to do some development and marketing so. Today we’re gonna talk about that but before we get into it. I’m also curious your story you know, you’re internet marketer and i don’t know if it’s ok to say, your partner was just 21, pretty young. So no college?

Karl: No college, I actually drop out of high school to move to Vietnam. So I finished all my studies. I had about a month or 2 to go to my exams and then I would have done but I already knew a lot of people are here in Vietnam and considering it for over 2 years moving to Asia. And of these signals came back the at the same time, saying like boom boom, and I was like okay life is too short like studied everything that I could possibly studied at that stage in school. And just decided life is too short. If I ever want to go back, I can always finish it, then by the months it really burned any bruises. I’ve been doing online businesses for about 8 years now. It’s been pretty varied I started off with some advertising sides. Then I’ve SEO work for client with a bunch of Amazon affiliate sites and other affiliated projects. I sold some of them from marketing agency then i got back into advertising affiliate game, one of those mentors and now we started our media which is marketing agency for software as server company.

Mike: Great! Exciting times man. And so how did you end up picking Vietnam to start with?

Karl: So, I think I was around 17, from ages 14 to 17, I was kinda doing my online thing and it was pretty successful. And, but I never really like Estonia, which is very cold, people are very depressed. It’s just the not the best place for myself. And I always love like tap cold water and stuff. At 17 I saw an apprenticeship, then our networks in a diamond circle, that was based in the Philippines. But after that I’m actually get the position but that kind of open my mind to possibly living in Asia. And that kinda got obsessed with this. I planned it out for about a year.

Mike: Great! Cool.

Karl: And this was March 2015, 2014 I think. And the 2 most recommended place for me in Asia in Chiang Mai Thailand and Saigon Vietnam. And Chiang Mai during that time at the burning season then I ended coming to Vietnam and then the plan was to moved to new country every month, 2, 3 months. And I just kind of came here fell in love with the place much never laugh. I’ve travelled around Asia a little bit. I spend some time in Chiang Mai, I think I lived there for 5 to 6 months, but Vietnam very quickly became home to me. And then I just stuck around.

Mike: Alright. Nice. And now yeah we’re here. So this, a word in the office or the locations of this is, more of a local area. It was not far for me to get here but of course i had to take a different route and seem lost in place I’m visiting. So we’re in District 4?

Karl: So you’re based in district 4. So we are based in district 4. As far as I know, if you used to be the kind of get on area not just normal cool area that connects, and we’re about 5 to 10 minutes away from city center by cab. It’s a pretty good location. We’re in a place called circle called working space. Where i think we have 20 to 30 companies that are based here and they are all international, Korean companies, companies from Silicon Valley, and doing a lot of techie stuff. We’re probably one of the small companies here and i believe only one in the marketplace as well.

Mike: Awesome! Interesting. So, it’s what kind of talent you is most abundant. I mean, I’ve told people, developer in Vietnam online, is too shy to me I tried to have come out here, he’s a little bit shy, i’m excited to see him on this trip, maybe next time, mostly developers or marketers or I mean is everybody I heard there’s good developers in Vietnam.

Karl: Right. Our company is kinda we’re targeting the US market and we’re very high end service for most of our staff has to be native speakers. So it actually not the best place for us to be based on. But in terms of locals i think there’s are a lot of talented developers. As far as I’ve heard from friends, who are in the tech development game, they know their stuff but they do it in a very messy way so it busted, do know some code of your own, that you can guide them and give them best practices. Otherwise, they are kinda skip the lazy way and just making it work that necessarily make it fast learner like future pro-solution. I’ve heard of what are the things about designers here, we’ve been looking for designers here for about 2 months. And i have not found single one. I have to hire actually still looking for designers but she’s based in Thailand, so she’s working with us part time until I find a person here. But I definitely, kind of attest to the shyness of these people. So when I hired for content writers here. They were all foreigners, native speakers. And they all sent me videos, Caucasians, and everything was fine. And then when I start working, looking for designers, and first they ask for portfolio. Then ask for 3 minutes introduction video, what they do, position, whether they fit for this position and I think I’ve sent out 30 of this emails of qualified applicants. And I’ve received back to videos. Most of them after that, they started boring me, there are like my English is not good enough. Like I’m not gonna do a video and they are just very shy. So, yeah. I haven’t had much lot with designers, I think Vietnam is a very good place for kind of lower end companies where you have a lot of kind of like low work. So we’re doing like very high end advanced marketing and I probably would not hire people most of these roles. And there are some exceptions, advertising they’re pretty good at, copywriter, assisting them. Like side of things but I email marketing, content marketing, SEO, I would give them that kind of stuff, buy basic stuff that you can hire people for like 400 600 dollars a month, if you have something that turned into checklist of procedures something that can teach anyone. You can find a lot of people been able to do that for fairly cheap. So i think it’s good for people who are running, let’s say, one of affiliate website when you just need someone to create a bunch of websites for you. Look-up keywords, post content that they ordered somewhere. Kind of post and check, optimize it. Maybe for like support for your Amazon FBA business for support for drop shipping stores like this lower task are prettily source here. And I think, I got point of few friends who have successfully hired teams for that.

Mike: Cool! Do you know like a range salary depending on?

Karl: Right. I mostly know for the lower end task. So that kind of stuff you’ve probably get to 400-600 a month, VA type of things. For designer, my friends who run web agency were paying 800 to 1200. For designers, developers, range from a thousand to 2,000 depending on the skills set. That’s an area i’ve personally haven’t explored much. I think these are pretty good match. But then again if you look let’s say like marketing managers or hiring marketers, some are asking to 2 to 5 thousand dollars a month.

Mike: Crazy, actually I’ve been meeting a lot of online business owners here, some a lot are bringing in of expats overseas. Great place to live cost of living people work for less.

Karl: Yeah. I think Vietnam and Thailand are both great places to bring people and from the outside from States or my guys from New Zealand their own guys from Australia, because they can live here. They can live nice lifestyle here fairly cheap. They’re willing to accept little salary that they might have had working for so many.

Mike: Especially, if you said a manager here wants 3 to 5 a month if you can, Westerner, probably too similar work.

Karl: These people are, they are very intelligent, they are very good in marketing but they just not very good on online staff. The Vietnam is still a lot of people very similar to China. And it really is like there are no online marketing doing Facebook ads, they push flyers on the streets and branding campaigns and billboards, and marketers are very good on type of stuff. Doing events in shopping malls and costumes and god knows what. They’re good at that kind of stuff but they’re not gonna be your experts on mail chimp and leakages.

Mike: Interesting to learn this and like a, do you think people here register local companies or can people, just you know pay people directly online stuff.

Karl: Right. To my networking Vietnam is pretty big after being here for 2 years, the most of my friends just operate to US and Hong Kong countries and they kinda pay under the table. I have one friend who has online type of business who has real until the end pay taxes everything. Like benefits for the employees and stuff like that but personally currently operates US entity, and we give people self-employed contract. So they can sort out their own taxes out there and so on. Opening a 100% form of company here is very difficult, barely expensive and they’re very strict. But kind of the legal side of things, arts and staff, I’ve heard stories of the tax coming into your office on the random day making sure everyone you claim your employing is actually near office and they have contract. They’re gonna search your computer, what are you working on, or actually in this sector you claimed you are on, so yeah you have different types of business licenses for marketing advertising, real estate, and for some of these corners are not even allowed to own a business in that industry.

Mike: Crazy. Yes similar in China, a lot of times people just yeah operate through you know a cultural company like Hong Kong or you know even US stuff like that. Hopefully it gets easier yeah. It wasn’t interesting to see people same in Vietnam is harder in China.

Karl: Yeah. This like definitely works kind of this thing position, working a lot of corner and you go businesses and you go for like western minded employees. But when you really mean like a local team or working in any way would local clients. Then they’re gonna want this right invoices. And if you can’t provide them that you cannot do business with them.

Mike: Right, I see.

Karl: Kind of seeing the same thing with all these employees where they won’t take money through Paypal, they won’t take the self-employed contract, freelancer contract because they want their healthcare and so on.

Mike: Yeah, similar in China too, I mean lot of times some people are more are less conservative you know, they are more conservative they want to have the healthcare and taxes and the retirements.

Karl: Maybe retirements, yeah.

Mike: I don’t think. I don’t usually get my Social Security in America. The US government, I worked here for 5 years. I think that was social security but I don’t expect that they coming after me.

Karl: Honestly, I’ve never kinda rely on that. I’ve kinda cross that on the list. And made my own plan. I don’t know if there’s any money going in there, I don’t care. I only get something great if I don’t, I’m really broke.

Mike: Exactly. So you know, what are some tips I think for others for setting up here, coming up here, I think a lot of times, listeners they email me, they don’t know where to looking for a job to come out in Asia, looking for apprenticeship, is that, do you think the right thing or what would you say to somebody here like when you’re starting out, should they start.

Karl: In my case, I normally, I already had a successful business when I moved here. But for people who just want to live in Asia, forget a job here I think the best way is to save out some cash while out here meet a lot of people. There’s so many food local and known companies that are looking talents maybe kind of talents, any kind of talent. So, I’ve got a lot of friends here who worked now, like online businesses for example they’re flying out their brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, we’re just gonna hang out here for 2 months and find job somehow. Whether that’s doing social media company or working on nightlife, teaching English like something you never as a foreigner, you probably never gonna be in the position, where you cannot get a job here.

Mike: Although its must be a salary cut, no, there was particular.

Karl: It’s actually increase for foreigners.

Mike: So they make more here than in their home.

Karl: Oh, yeah. Like compared to the locals with the same job, a foreigners would get pay a lot.

Karl: Oh, yeah. Like compared to the locals with the same job, a foreigners would get pay a lot.

Karl: Teacher is always a backup option.

Mike: Exactly. Alright and then so what about, I mean we worked together, thanks, as service get a Hong Kong company. You become I see you next week that would be great. So you’re marketing agency, do you wanna share more for companies?

Karl: Yes, so we are marketing solution for software service companies and kind of do everything but we specialize on content marketing. That means taking care of all the content of the articles and about the company. We also do kind a like content upgrade. So we increase all these by a lot, we take care of all your email marketing. We can manage all of your social media, let’s say Mike want to kind of increase brand awareness and trust for Global From Asia as well as yourself. We can manage your Quora account.

Mike: Okay.

Karl: For example, your Quora redhead manage you on Facebook groups. Any time zone about doing business in Asia or outsourcing from China, you’ve probably get answer all those questions on Quora and we’re gonna have the same quality advancers that you personally answer.

Mike: Interesting.

Karl: So for some people, I think I just did a report for a number of clients in Quora, last month his views got over 200,000 views.

Mike: Amazing.

Karl: In the past 6 months that alone has driven ten thousand views to the website, you just one of the many channels for clients.

Mike: That’s cool. So yeah, technically, if we have to use local talent for that.

Karl: Exactly. We were, our team is really can specialize and understanding your business and your customer’s and their problems. And addressing that those problems are true contact on a very high level.

Mike: Got it.

Karl: So our goal is always established the client as a top leader in their space. So, for some clients, let’s say they’re competing against the accounting giants, like zero, in some cases were competing against infusionsoft and mailchimp.

Mike: Amazing.

Karl: From creating content at the same level rule or higher than that.

Mike: Nice. And yeah, continence came, over use and if fails you can get out there I mean, I think I make a lot of content, more time getting people find it.

Karl: Exactly. There are a lot of like done for you contents solutions out there and you can outsource your content, I can apply ourselves on being content marketing solutions. For example, you published a low cost about doing business in Hong Kong or incorporating in Hong Kong. For once people do is amazing content like you do. But they don’t know if it’s better to post incorporating in Hong Kong or setting up a company in Hong Kong. We figure all that kind of stuff first of all. We optimized the content itself, the formatting, images, just post whole thing for you. But then you also look at everyone’s successful who done a post of that before. So we look at who has link back to the top 10 articles, but incorporating in Hong Kong. And get a research team that’s the contact details everyone who has link to that post, every influence who shared that post or article, and we send out personalize email to these people being like, Hey this is Mike, I know this will link to Hong Kong government’s post on incorporating Hong Kong. We talk to 37 experts on a random data from 2017 and a personal experience do you think we also mentioned in your article if not we’re gonna do to make it better.

Mike: Great.

Karl: And this way we can get a lot of back links and shares, to content that’s published right away. So instead of waiting 6 to 24 months for content marketing to kick in, we’re able to cut that time and much more.

Mike: This is really valuable. And I think it’s a great team especially your knowledge, so how we will find more about you and your business.

Karl: Our company name is MRR Media. So you can find us at mrr.media you can email me at [email protected] or you can find me at facebook kind of follow me I shared about a bit of my persona, mostly business. So you can find me at Facebook as Karl Krangur. I probably the first result.

Mike: We’ll link it up at the show notes as always thank you so much Karl for sharing.

Karl: Thanks for having me, Mike.

Mike: Alright! Thank you, Karl. And it’s great to see your office we also hang out a little bit in Hong Kong not much as I wanted. We are at different schedules and things, but karl is great and he is really to make things happen especially so young, so great job karl keep it up, if you are listening and we are really, we all motivated by Gary Vee, he is at rise. He really dominated the show. He spoke all the time in most places, and I’m all happy, I got a selfie with him.

Claire: And autographed.

Mike: Yeah, he autographed copy of his books. I bought one of those and we’re excited, right? He’s talking about Global From Asia, he said, he’s really excited about the Asian market. How do you guys feel? How do you guys get on his talk?

Andrew: People love him, that’s what I know, they’re like shaking physically, be around them and meet him. I’d say the thing that I got from his talk is to work really, really hard and also be patient. Like if no one is familiar, well if some of you is familiar with Gary Vee and working like in media company for the last 10 years and I don’t think that his real goal, he’s like putting in a work, by doing sacrificing 10 years into his next steps. So, patience and hard work that’s what I’ve got.

Mike: Cool.

Claire: Yeah, I think like my first impression, like he is very popular, like I mean, he’s popular, pretty much everyone has a question. And also I think, he talks a lot about like intuition, would be important like and he also have intuition about Asia which is Global From Asia.

Mike: Yeah, Global From Asia but he’s saying to global business from Asians and startups and stuff. I think Andrew and I and are kind of curious, Claire’s perspective maybe she can share, so he’s interested about the mainland China market, he seems like he’s gonna be investing the next few years, do you think Chinese people will like him or like his content or style cause sometimes he’s a little bit, American aggressive, I don’t know, I feel like some people might not like that, do you, what do you think?

Claire: Actually, I don’t think like he’s aggressive, I think just hyperactive, I like that attitude. For a lot of chinese people, I think it’s might be a little bit different but I think Chinese actually need to be more educated on say productivity, also like media things like that, we are really bad in social media, Zack and I, we were discuss things about the wasted money of own time square. So it’s like even some of the attitude in Chinese, in which was like, maybe you know like you bring some, like I think basically it’s just like waste money. But think we cannot allow.

Mike: Yes, speaking of Zack were gonna do workshop with him in August, Facebook ads, for those in South China or Asia region. More things like, we are doing amazing things, yeah, but I think your review would do fine, I mean or there are already Chinese people that came, ask some questions, some events where I saw him speak. But maybe will get him on the podcast, that’s maybe our goal for us, we could get him, if it’s just in Asia, I think he’ll be make sense so stay tuned for Gary Vee on Global From Asia. Alright with that guys let’s wrap up this week and so everybody see you next Tuesday and thanks Luis for listening.

Louis: Yeah, thank you.

To get more info, on running international business please visit our website at www.globalfromasia.com that’s www.globalfromasia.com. Also, be sure to subscribe to our iTunes feed. Thanks for tuning in.

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It was really an interesting blog, Thank you for providing unknown facts.