Ben and Yumi co-founded an outsourcing and software development company in Vietnam, joining Vietnam’s rapidly growing tech industry. We asked them what got them started, what are some pros and cons of being in IT, and what advice do they have for up-and-coming BAMers looking at the IT industry.
What got you started in business as mission?
After working and living abroad in Costa Rica for two years, we weren’t interested in returning back to North America to settle back down into a comfortable lifestyle. We felt that God had greater plans for us but were unsure of what that was. We both had extensive work experience in IT and a strong interest in starting a business in Asia but our desires were divided and we were stuck. So we stopped and dedicated time to pray and worked together on creating a mission statement for our family. God began to speak through this process and we went from building a business that would make us rich and glorify us while trying to be intentional, to wanting to build a business that was about relationships that would glorify God. We wanted to make Him known while being profitable so that we could meet the real needs of the people – and our needs as well. The business ideas went from us-focused to ‘God and the people He loves’-focused. After further seeking, we had the peace and go ahead to go to Vietnam to start an IT outsourcing business.
What is your business about? How is mission integrated?
We describe ourselves as a “boutique outsourcing” company – providing high quality code with great service for a reduced cost. Our specialization is in frontend code for web and mobile but we also have backend, CMS and User Experience expertise.
We believe that the workplace is an ideal place to minister and build deep meaningful relationships. In what other scenario are you forced to be with the same people for 40 hours a week?! But in all seriousness, by spending a significant amount of time with our staff, we feel we can effectively share our lives and our values. Also, by running a legitimate profitable private company, we have leeway to speak into people’s lives as well as having greater opportunities to build into the community. We are very transparent with our faith, stating upfront when we hire someone that we are Christians and we run our company according to biblical teachings. In our new hire material, we state that Ben is the President but God is our CEO and we embed Matthew 22:37 in our employee policy document. We conduct weekly principle classes where we talk about different character traits that tie back to kingdom values. We eat lunch together everyday and we say grace, and now some join us at the end saying, “Amen!”.
What do you love about being in the technology industry? What key advantages does an IT company have in business for transformation (B4T)?
We both have a natural love for technology. Ben is a developer by trade and Yumi is a UX designer and we are very blessed to have found a profession that we genuinely love to do. Also, working on IT projects usually requires a lot of teamwork, so we also love the fact that we often work with others who also are passionate about their jobs and take pride in producing good work.
The advantage of an IT company for a B4T is that programming is a skillset that transcends borders and language. Code is the same everywhere and can be used anywhere in the world, so in theory an IT company can be set up anywhere in the world as long as there is electricity and an internet connection. It is an industry that is and will continue to be in high demand.
What is most challenging about being in the IT industry?
The most challenging part of being in the IT industry is finding good talent. Not only should a programmer be good at programming, they need to also be good communicators and critical thinkers. Another challenge for our company is managing the time difference when servicing clients who live on the other side of the world. There are many ways we keep open communication with our clients – emails, project management tools, instant messaging, and so on – but building relationships and speaking directly with our clients is important so occasional late night meetings are inevitable.
What advice would you give to an up-and-coming BAMer who wanted to get into IT?
When the job offer to go to Costa Rica came up, we felt a very strong push to go but were confused as we did not have a heart for or a real interest in the region. Also, Yumi was 7 months pregnant at the time with our first child so practically speaking it didn’t seem like it was the best option. We consulted a good friend about our dilemma and he gave us some advice that we still hold on to till this day. He said “maybe this can be a stepping stone to something greater God has in plan for you guys”. With this advice in hand, we followed the leading in our hearts and moved to Costa Rica. It was quite a difficult time there but it was indeed a necessary time of training on all levels – spiritual, mental, physical, emotional – and if it wasn’t for that time, we are not sure whether we would be doing what we are doing today. So for those up and coming, don’t rush. Listen to God’s prompting and follow his timing. Having practical work experience in the IT field is a must. Be diligent with the training time God has given you and in whatever you do, give it your 100% even if you don’t feel like it. In due time He will put things in action. “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much” – Luke 16:10.
With thanks to Ben and Yumi.
Want to work for this company? They are now hiring:
We are an IT outsourcing company located in SE Asia and are currently looking to hire a Project Manager to join our growing team. This person will help us plan, schedule and control all project activities to ensure project requirements are met, and provide leadership while building positive professional relationships with clients and team members. We are also looking for someone who can take an active role in discipling our staff and interns. Previous work experience is important but we are open to training and working with this individual if we feel that they have the right heart and personality fit for our company.
Picture credit: Hackathon in Vietnam by Silicon Straits