Interview with Hieu Nguyen: Changing the Way People Buy Products Abroad

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Interview with Hieu Nguyen: Changing the Way People Buy Products Abroad

Hello, Hieu. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your platform?

Hi Erika, nice meeting you today! First of all I’d like to say thank you for the invitation. It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to connect with you and all of your readers. My name is Hieu Nguyen, I am from Vietnam and I had spent years studying and working in Germany and the UK before coming back to my homeland. Technology and logistics have always inspired me, and this inspiration together with the longing for products from home I couldn’t get abroad and the constant need to purchase and send products from abroad later on have led to the idea of creating a unique sharing economy platform for peer-to-peer shopping and delivery that is not only different from the conventional methods, but also provides added value for its users. We named the platform XtayPro, which means hand-carry in Vietnamese and rhymes with “stay professional”.

What are your focus areas and why?

XtayPro’s main focus is connecting travelers with local people at their destinations. While you might be able to get many products you’d find on shelves at homes in a developed country, those are often not accessible in many other countries, or are very expensive due to rarity and lack of proper logistics and manpower. Meanwhile, there are people traveling to and from those countries all the time. We are here to connect local consumers with those travelers that still have space to spare in their luggage; they can offer to help bring those products from abroad for some gratuity, sometimes money, sometimes a cup of coffee, and on top of all, a new friend to share your stories.

Another common case is when you need to send some documents or letters, for instance, transpacific. Normal service by post takes too long while express service will charge you an enormous fee. But now you can also ask the travelers to bring those items across the ocean in a shorter timeframe and for a fraction of the express services’ rates.

How would you describe “XtayPro” in a few words?

XtayPro is a sharing economy platform for the transportation of small and medium-sized parcels by utilizing the spare luggage space of travelers.

XtayPro at Work

Hieu at Work

Where do you think “XtayPro” is making an impact?

In the age of globalization and information technology, the geographic barriers between countries do not hinder us from learning about other cultures and getting products from overseas that are not available locally. Hand-carry services have been around for over 30 years. They are most well-known in developing regions, such as South-East Asia and South America, where product diversity is low and the influx of counterfeit products is a serious problem. People have been relying on this type of service to get the better, authentic products that they deserve.

However, people haven’t had a proper way to get these products; normally they would have to wait for their relatives or friends to get back from Japan or the United States in order to buy these products. And people are flying around the world every day without using up their luggage allowance! This is why we have built a platform to connect all these people, especially those living in less developed countries, to give them access to better products at affordable prices.

What were some of the biggest challenges you encountered while building “XtayPro”?

The first and biggest challenge, as with any other sharing economy platform, is building the trust of our users in the platform and in the community. To achieve this, we have to implement a flexible but strict user verification and ranking system to prevent fraud and illegal activities. Users can also rate and review each other after each transaction to give other users a hint about the people they’re going to deal with. Along with that, we also offer secure payment options, which are designed to protect both sides in case of loss or dispute. Part of this challenge is to learn about other cultures and traditions before reflecting them on the platform.

Another big challenge is to design the UX/UI of our platform in a way that is easy to understand and easy to use for all our users. We are working relentlessly to innovate and optimize our apps all on front – Android, iOS and Web – to provide the most seamless user experience. To that end, we welcome and appreciate all and every feedback from our beloved users.

Tell us about how you help your customers find and sell goods and services around the world.

We have operations and marketing teams in many countries, including but not limited to Vietnam, Korea, Japan, Singapore, Germany, Australia and the United States to promote our platform to communities of overseas students and expatriates as well as frequent travelers. Through our network of partners and foreign operations, we have connected tens of thousands of people with each other, helping consumers get products from abroad and small businesses introduce their products to customers worldwide, all the while helping travelers reduce their travel expenses. In many cases, students can even finance their flight tickets home.

Tell us a few of your success stories.

We launched our beta version about one year ago and were accepted into FbStart Accelerator Program by Facebook almost immediately. Since then, our user base has increased rapidly and the number of transactions on our platform has also grown at an impressive rate of over 800%. That is a success in and of itself.

Also, just a few days ago, XtayPro was also accepted into the K-Startup Grand Challenge 2018, the biggest start-up competition in the world sponsored and organized by the Government of South Korea. Out of 1770 start-ups from all around the world, only 80 have been selected to take part in a 4-month acceleration program in Seoul. We are very honored and proud to have this opportunity to meet potential partners and investors, to co-operate with big companies in Korea who will help us expand further, and eventually establish our official branch in Korea and beyond.

XtayPro at Work

Hieu at Work

You were accepted into the Facebook Start Program. How has this program helped you grow XtayPro?

FbStart is an acceleration program by Facebook and other big corporations, designed to help early-stage and promising start-ups build and grow their products. With the advanced tools and services from premier partners offered within the program, we have built and optimized many useful features for our users. The advertising credits from Facebook enabled us to announce our presence to targeted potential users. There are many other excellent tools for design, user testing, localization and technical support to improve user experience and to integrate a robust infrastructure of the platform.

Anything else you would like to share with our readers?

We envision XtayPro with consumers and travelers in mind, with the hope that we can build a healthy and trustworthy platform for all users where they can get the goods they need, but cannot otherwise get through conventional ways. We are trying to bring together three huge industries at the same time: transportation, e-commerce and tourism. That is quite a challenge, but you’ll never walk alone. Now you might have guessed where I used to stay in the UK (laughs). Well, travelers might not be able to make a living off the platform, but you sure can afford plane tickets or even accommodation for your next vacation. Try it next time you travel and you’ll get addicted, guaranteed!

So in short: no more ridiculous delivery times, no more exorbitant fees, no more refusals from companies who only ship domestically, no more frustration. Thank you very much for these interesting questions, Erika! And to you guys who are reading this, come xtay with us!