As a Vietnamese Canadian entrepreneur, Marina Tran Vu chose to return to Vietnam and launched EQUO, a Vietnam-based brand of eco-friendly products. Vu was born in Calgary, then moved to Vancouver with her family, and spent her entire memorable childhood in this beautiful city. She went to University of British Columbia and became a Brand Manager for several big organizations, such as Unilever and LG, in this contemporary city. However, her life was suddenly changed after a trip to Vietnam with her family.
Vu is the co-founder of EQUO, a brand specialized in trading eco-friendly products from Vietnam. Having chosen to start up a company inspired by the environmental concerns of a heavily polluted world, Vu has swiftly made her mark with EQUO which had been featured on many international newspapers such as Business Insider, Yahoo Finance, Benzinga, ABC, NBC, or Fox. Vu is aiming to create a community of consumers who are passionate about eco-friendly products. The company’s first project was to produce straws made from natural materials such as grass, sugarcane, rice, and coconut. Through this project, aside from supporting friendly environmental movements, she wants to show a different perspective on Vietnam’s potential economic development at the moment.
From an idea at a coffee shop
On the trip back to Vietnam, Vu happened to use a dried grass straw at a coffee shop in Saigon. With her experience as a brand manager, she believed that this product would be popular to the Canadian, American, and Australian markets, which are using mostly paper and plastic straws at the time. Seeing a golden opportunity within reach, Vu didn’t hesitate and then embarked on her start-up idea. Producing eco-friendly straws is the project that Vu chose to set foot in the consumer market. This project aims to use raw, non-polluting, non-chemical, and 100 percent of Vietnam-based materials to produce straws that are friendly to the environment.
To an international brand
Vu and EQUO have launched four types of straw made from bagasse, dried grass, rice, and fermented coconut water that have quickly received a lot of positive feedbacks from consumers. Additionally, to improve the product quality, EQUO has implemented a series of innovations, such as the drying technique to eliminate the materials’ natural smell as well as increase the durability of the products.
Through the Kickstarter, a crowdfunding application, EQUO has quickly appeared in big markets, including Canada, America, and Australia. Market expansion requires an abundant and sustainable source of materials for production. Therefore, Vu has decided to return to Vietnam. “Vietnam is a nation with a long-standing agricultural culture so it has an extremely rich and abundant source of agricultural products, which can be a valuable resource in the future. However, it has been inadvertently ignored by most foreign investors. Through EQUO’s projects, I want to bring Vietnamese products to consumers in most of the big markets such as Canada, America, Australia, as well as European countries in the future,” Vu said. Moreover, she also believed that the business environment and culture in Vietnam were gradually improving thanks to the young Vietnamese generations, who were enthusiastic, dynamic, and always full of creative ideas at work. With the desire to achieve the goal of creating a green and eco-friendly consumer community in the future, Vu is planning to build a farm specializing in the cultivation of various agricultural products in Vietnam. This farm will focus on providing natural materials to create eco-friendly products. In addition, EQUO’s business activities will create many new jobs for Vietnamese farmers.
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