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Building a Global Pho-nomenon

Building a Global Pho-nomenon

Ly Qui Trung brought the popular street food, pho, to a restaurant setting with the first Pho24 outlet in Ho Chi Minh City.

NEW YORK, March, 20, 2009 – Flocking to street vendors to indulge in
a bowl of pho is a daily ritual in Vietnam. This Vietnamese staple,
pronounced ‘fuh’, is at the core of Nam An Group's CEO and Founder Dr. Ly Qui Trung's
enterprise. The Vietnamese entrepreneur was so inspired by the love of
pho (a concoction of fresh rice noodles soaked in hot flavorful broth,
thin cuts of seasoned beef and a variety of garnishes like coriander,
thai basil and lime) in Australia that he decided to add a pho chain to
his F&B business. In June 2003, he brought the popular street food
to a restaurant setting with the first Pho24 outlet on Nyuyen Thiep
Street in Ho Chi Minh City. There are now 68 Pho24 restaurants in
Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Korea, Cambodia and Australia.

At a recent CEO forum at Asia Society’s headquarters in New York City, Trung spoke to Asia Society Bernard Schwartz Fellow Simon S.C. Tay, about entrepreneurship, and building Pho24 into a global brand.

According to Trung, the current Pho24 presence in Asia is a good market
test for his planned expansion in China and the US. He calls this the
“In - Out” market approach. The author of Vietnam’s “franchising
bible,” Trung was not only the first to successfully offer pho away
from street noise and passersby, but he also pioneered the concept of
delivery in Vietnam. These successes, however, do not come without a
substantial share of challenges. One big challenge is standardizing the
recipe for a dish that has several regional variations. A bigger
challenge is protecting intellectual property rights in Vietnam.

The
scarcity of intellectual property right protection is notably one of
the major impediments to development at a time when entrepreneurship is
growing in Vietnam. Entrepreneurship has long been regarded as a
second-tier profession in the country; however, the youth are becoming
increasingly focused on setting up businesses. This opens up
possibilities of investment in Vietnam. Trung explained that while the
government is making progress in establishing more reforms, it needs to
act faster to protect and retain the young entrepreneurs of the
country.

Trung expressed hope for the future of his
country and believes that his food venture is a way of bringing Vietnam
closer to the rest of the world. The Asia Society, in recognition of
the growing Vietnamese economy, is holding its 19th Annual Asian Corporate Conference in Ho Chi Minh City in April

With
planned expansions of his chain in New York City, it is only a matter
of time before Americans, too, discover the Vietnamese Pho-nomenon.

Reported by Chandani Punia

March 20, 2009
by Stephanie Valera