My Startups History

I love startups.

Since my indoctrination into the world of startups (I was told to read Paul Graham and YCombinator blogs back in 2009), I was hooked and have always worked in tech startups and small tech companies until now, wearing lots of hats.

In college, I tried to start a book-recommendation company with my roommate. Went to interview with Sam Yagan for a place in Excelerate Labs (now Techstars in Chicago). Failed. Company never materialized.

In 2010 after graduation, my cousin recruited me to go to SF and started a company with him. We also interviewed with YC but failed again. The company (Munchery) however went on to be quite successful.

In 2012 I had to quit early and went back home to Vietnam. But Munchery was probably my first real startup, one that gave me total freedom to build and experiment as I see fit, and it gave me a strong foundation to build on.

Back home I started working as a software engineers. I got experience in Gloops (Japanese Game Studio) and invaluable RoR experience at East Agile and Tinypulse. But I never could hold a job for more than a year. The startup bug was always calling me.

Thus in 2015, I was connected to the founders of Lixibox and decided to leave my cushy engineer job and joined them as CTO. This was my first real job that gave me management experience, and I loved it. It was very stressful. We worked like mad-men in the early days, sometimes even sleep at the office (albeit a very nice villa). I learned things I would never have, had I stayed as an engineer without a care in the world of business.

Lixibox also went on to be quite successful, but in 2017 I decided to follow my dream and start my own company. I needed to follow my own vision on how startups should be done, through which I coined the term “sustainable bootstrap”. Lixibox was a typical tech startup as it took outside investments and thus have a heavy burden to grow as much and as fast as possible. It was not what I truly wanted.

I started Luna Technologies in 2017 with a friend who wanted to try something new, working on Crypto Trading Bot. (No… not the Luna that lost everyone’s money. Unfortunate naming choice). It was a bad decision, yet it took me 4 years to realize. Trading Bot as a Saas simply doesn’t make sense. Trading Bot as a secret sauce for Hedge fund does, but that is a completely different animal. Also the crypto world was susceptible to uptrends and downtrends which I really don’t like.

After Luna, I took a small break before another opportunity comes knocking. In 2022 my co-founder and I started Carabala with a few other people. This time, I wised up and stopped focusing too much on engineering, and more on vision and leadership. We quickly achieved ramen profitability. While we aren’t making a lot of money yet, things are sustainable and everyone is very happy. I strongly believe this is the way forward.

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