A short conversation with Founder – Chairman of the Board of Directors Mr. Luong Tri Thin takes place before a special moment – the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Dat Xanh Group. At 47, Mr. Thin is at the age of full enthusiasm for an entrepreneur. Dat Xanh Group, established and developed by him, is also about to turn 20, an age that promises many new things.
Reporter: Dat Xanh Group is now a multi-industry group with total assets of more than VND30,000 billion, more than 17,000 employees and 15,000 collaborators, while you have received many prestigious awards such as Vietnam Gold Star Award (2011), Ho Chi Minh City Outstanding Entrepreneur (2012), Outstanding Young Entrepreneur and Red Star Award (2014), Outstanding Asian Entrepreneur Award (2020), etc. To gain such achievements you must have your own secret. Can you share about this?
Mr. Luong Tri Thin: In the past, people often talked about me like “Mr. Thin does business like no one else.”
A typical example was in 2003 when the domestic market focused on land transactions. At that time, there was a popular trend for apartments in large cities abroad. When choosing this apartment product to start my career, I went to Singapore in order to record the civilized and modern image of the apartment buildings there. After promoting, persuading and consulting in person many times, the first project was successful, and Dat Xanh Group quickly became known as a real estate consultant and distributor.
Many people wonder why I chose to “list” our business on the stock exchange at the end of 2009 when the real estate market was in crisis. In my opinion, listing a business in difficult times will help measure its health and resistance. I believe that only when the business faces challenges can it increase the ability to overcome such challenges.
After 20 years of establishment and development, Dat Xanh Group has become one of the leading groups in Vietnam, operating in many industries including real estate services; real estate development investment; civil infrastructure construction; financial investment and financial services; technology and technology application.
Dat Xanh Group’s success today is attributable to the convergence of the right time, the right place and the right people. The right time refers to the new opportunities that I always find and explore so that my business can have a successful path; the right place here means the right business strategy at each relevant time; the right people are about the associates that have stood side by side with us, partners and customers that have trusted us. None of these factors are accidental, they all are the results of the maximum efforts of myself and all leaders and employees of the Group.
During nearly 20 years of holding the role of Chairman and CEO of the Group, recently you have assume the post of Board Chairman only. Can you say about your plans?
Reply: Having built a strong and stable Dat Xanh Group, from 2020, I decided to transfer the position of CEO. Since then, I have only held the post of Chairman of the Board of Directors to oversee and decide strategic issues of the Group. In addition, I wish to spend time focusing on leading Dat Xanh Group into the digital economy, circular economy by developing the technology platform for real estate, finance….
Reporter: You have just mentioned the digital economy. What make you decide that Dat Xanh will focus on this field?
Reply: Real estate is facing internal problems as its scale and speed increase rapidly. Technological development leads to changing consumer trends. Inevitably, online technology application business is gradually prevailing over the traditional model. Therefore, using digitech to transform the way of doing business is vital to all companies including Dat Xanh Group.
Simultaneously, the 13th Central Party Congress Resolution also emphasizes the Government’s orientation towards a circular economy, digital economy and green economy model, which emphasizes the application of technology and innovation, promoting the leading role of the business community.
As a leading business in the real estate industry in Vietnam, I realize that Dat Xanh Group needs to pioneer digital transformation. In fact, 10 years ago, I had many trips to developed countries to look into tech-based real estate business models and promote the transformation process in the Group’s system.
Reporter: How have you directed the strategies to enter the technology field?
Reply: Dat Xanh Group is one of the real estate businesses applying technology from a very early time. In 2012, we operated the ERP model – “paperless office” in administration and business operations.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the online sales platform Real Agent developed by Dat Xanh Group helped the Group’s system maintain business operations. In particular, many projects distributed by us were sold out 95% after just one livestream session. This is a typical example showing that just with a technology platform meeting all information needs and safe transaction methods, real estate will no longer be a product that customers have to go to the place and experience in person in order to “pay money”.
In 2020, we cooperated with McKinsey, the world’s leading strategic consultancy group, built a 10-year development strategy, with a 30-year vision and oriented to comprehensive digital transformation. We were determined to speed up implementation progress, and at the end of 2021, Dat Xanh Group purchased copyrighted software from SAP (Systems Applications and Products in Data Processing), which was developed by SAP SE – the largest software company in the world, and simultaneously we cooperated with FPT, Vietnam’s leading technology corporation, and announced a project on digital transformation in real estate industry, aiming to comprehensively change the Group’s operation and business management.
Through Dat Xanh Services – a member company responsible for developing real estate service systems, we have been a pioneer in building a real estate technology ecosystem such as iHouzz and Fina.
In particular, iHouzz is a proptech application that deploys property management services, rental management, big data, etc., combining online and offline (O2O). Accordingly, Point of Sale (POS) chains are touchpoints for customers and brokers across the country, with a rich source of products, integrating a variety of service utilities such as home loans, interior design, and legal procedures, etc. Currently, iHouzz is continuing cooperation to expand the office system, to provide comprehensive real estate services including transfer brokerage, leasing, real estate rental management, and lending, notarization, etc.
Fintech platform FINA operates as a mortgage broker, supports customers in submitting loan applications and approving loans online. Through FINA, Dat Xanh Group has currently connected with 30 financial institutions, and loans of more than VND10,000 billion have been disbursed. With a team of personal financial service consultants, FINA is serving 20,000 customers with a loan approval rate of up to 96%. The platform’s advantages come from creating flexible financial products with low interest rates. For example, in the context that lending interest rates can be up to 14%/year, partner banks can pledge to keep interest rates below 10%/year, or even 7-8%/year. In the future, FINA aims to double the number of users, diversify the product portfolio and optimize financial and investment benefits for all actors participating in the real estate ecosystem.
Reporter: What are specific goals set for Dat Xanh Group‘s technology race, sir?
Reply: Comprehensive digital transformation will be the foundation for the Group and its member companies to research and apply blockchain and AI/Machine learning to business activities with technological content, penetrating new fields such as finance, health, education, etc.; to start making profits and in the process of increasing scale and market share after 3 years and the next 5 years, 60% of the Group’s revenue will come from the digital economy. In harmony with core business activities, Dat Xanh Group will complete its capitalization target of US$10 billion in 2030. This is also the time when Dat Xanh Group is ready to expand its potential globally, affirming its national position in the international marketplace.
Reporter: What strengths do you think Dat Xanh Group currently possesses for its goal of pioneering the digital transformation?
Reply: People are our number one strength. Dat Xanh Group has a team of brave, talented and enthusiastic leaders, with most of them earning MBA degrees at leading universities in the UK, the U.S., Australia, etc. For me, people are always the most important factor that determines the success of every business strategy.
As a number one brand in real estate services and real estate finance, Dat Xanh Group owns a system of nearly 100 member companies, 17,000 employees and 15,000 collaborators throughout 63 provinces and cities in Vietnam. At the same time, Dat Xanh owns a big database of nearly 20 million customers whom we have served during 20 years of operation. With strong financial potential and modern technology platform, all employees of the Group and I are always determined and make the maximum efforts towards the goal of leading the field of real estate technology.
The speed of digital transformation will determine the success or failure of a business. The Industry 4.0 train waits for no one, so those who get on board early can create a competitive advantage and new position. This is also an outstanding foundation for us to build a leading private economic group in Vietnam and reach the world, aiming for the goal of “Efficiency – Longevity – Greatness”.
Reporter: Thank you!