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Minh Beta and the startup story that turned 5 billion VND into 1,000 billion VND over 6 years



Minh Beta used to be the founder of the Doco Dunuts coffee and pastry chain in Vietnam. But to everyone’s surprise, he sold the chain of stores and went to the United States to study at Harvard. Two years later, Minh returned to Vietnam, breaking into a field that previously belonged only to big players: the Cinema business.

Bui Quang Minh
Source: Internet.

Entrepreneur Bui Quang Minh (known as Minh Beta) was born in 1983. He was a student at Hanoi – Amsterdam High School for the Gifted, specialising in Mathematics. After graduating from high school, he received a full scholarship from the Australian government and graduated with a first-class honour from the University of Sydney. Consequently, he received a Fulbright scholarship (USA) and graduated with an MBA from Harvard University (USA) in 2014.

In addition to his admirable academic achievement which includes receiving a full Fulbright scholarship from the US government, he was also accepted into the MBA program at both Stanford and Harvard.

In 2009, when the donuts trend was prevalent in many Asian countries, Minh returned to Vietnam to launch a F&B startup, opening a chain of six Doco Donuts & Coffee stores and promptly withdrew when this trend receded.

It only took three months for Minh to recover the initial investment from the first store and he can be seen as a pioneer in bringing this model and trend to Vietnam. He also franchised the Doco Donuts stores to many different buyers.

Doco Donuts & Coffee was developed towards the “fashion” food segment, which would only thrive for a certain time in accordance with the trends, so the withdrawal of the business was foreseen. However, Minh still holds the copyright of the brand because he thinks that in the future, if the market is suitable, Doco will return.

Recalling his time with Doco, Minh said the value of the brand was not only the amount of profit or how it contributed to the trend of a new retail model at that time, but also another significant part for Minh was two valuable lessons about team building and leveraging external resources for the business.

With VND 5 billion in savings he got from selling Doco Donuts stores, Minh borrowed from his parents and friends to contribute VND 10 billion, just enough to build the first three-screen cineplex in Thai Nguyen. With the aim to bring cinemas to small provinces or in suburban areas, Beta Cineplex offers a reasonable price (about VND 50,000 /ticket), accompanied by food and beverage services to attract customers.

In May 2015, Beta Media received investment capital from Vietnam’s leading investment fund: VIG (Vietnam Investments Group), expanded its business, increased the number of cineplexes, and expanded its business into F&B, film production, film distribution and other fields.

Bui Quang Minh2
Source: Internet

After two rounds of fund raising, in which the first round was only six months after its launch, Beta Cineplex was valued at VND 600 billion. Up to now, the chain has 10 cineplexes nationwide.

In addition to business ventures, Minh Beta has acted in many short films and cameoed in a number of movies. He is a producer and actor in the sitcom “West of the City” (2016) and in the movie “Get Married ” released at the end of September 2017.

In 2020, Beta Cineplex announced that it successfully raised US$8 million from a foreign fund at a valuation of VND 1,000 billion. This was Beta Media’s third capital raising which went on during the Covid-19 epidemic, while the first two times went quite smoothly.

Mr. Minh shared: “We actually started fundraising activities nearly a year ago. The negotiations were almost finished when Covid-19 began. Everything paused and it seemed almost impossible. Fortunately, Japanese investors are very reputable people. Besides, my partner and the whole company are very determined to go ahead with the set plans. So we still had our own ways to persuade investors that despite the pandemic, things will eventually return to normal. We also showed them that given what Beta Media has done and will do, it’s still a sound investment.

In the context of Covid-19, even “big guys” in the film industry are struggling, but for a startup like Beta Cineplex, to overcome it, Mr. Minh shares: “We also have measures to reduce costs, negotiate with partners on rental fee adjustment and deferred payment. Revenue has begun to recover, the remaining problem is the number of film sources available. Before Covid-19 pandemic, we had 12 cinemas across the country, now it’s 14. Despite Covid-19, our business has expanded because we had a good plan in advance, and we opened more cinemas with additional funding. We think that Covid-19 will be over eventually and our investment is long-term.

Initially, we considered staff downsizing, but when we successfully raised capital, we did not reduce wages or lay off any of our staff because firstly, the financial situation was secured, and secondly, we also wanted to build trust between our business and employees.

Source: Doanh nghiệp hội nhập

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