#167 Breaking into Vietnam, Venture Capital & Professional Sports with Henry Nguyen, Founding Owner, Los Angeles Football Club & Kellogg MBA ’00
“One of the beautiful things about being early in your career is that you have the license to be curious. It’s very rare that someone will try to reach me. Of course if it’s someone soliciting something I generally ignore it. But usually if it’s a young person, a student, or someone early in their career, and they say, “Hey, I’m just interested in learning more about this,” nine times out of ten I reply… I reply because if I get to help deflect their life in some meaningful way, or guide them on some road, that excites me. That’s the license you have as an MBA student. You have to take the license to be intellectually curious when you have it.” – Henry Nguyen
How did Henry Nguyen, who graduated from Kellogg 20 years ago, launch Vietnam’s first technology venture capital fund, Vietnam’s first professional basketball team, and Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC), a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise?
Henry recounts his journey from travel writer to MD to MBA to Wall Street and then back to Vietnam, where he has built a career as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist.
Henry also gives a behind a scenes look into putting together a winning bid for LAFC, building a 22,000 capacity outdoor arena in downtown Los Angeles, and growing a raving fanbase before LAFC’s first game in 2018. Henry shares what he gained from his Kellogg MBA, as well as his advice to young professionals and entrepreneurs considering business school.
“Being an entrepreneur is sometimes just saying ‘Why Not?‘”
– Henry Nguyen
- Introducing Henry Nguyen (0:00)
- Henry’s unanticipated MBA and business career (6:30)
- Henry’s heads to Wall Street (11:00)
- The travel writing experience that changed Henry’s life (14:45)
- Henry’s journey back to Vietnam (21:15)
- Starting IDG Ventures Vietnam – “My life is a serendipitous series of fortunate circumstances” (26:30)
- From “funny money” to “startup” – the growth of entrepreneurship in Vietnam (30:30)
- Breaking into venture capital (34:10)
- Henry’s thoughts on the value of a MBA for career changers vs. entrepreneurs, and what he learned from Kellogg (39:30)
- Henry’s foray into the business of sports, and starting amateur and professional sports leagues in Vietnam (49:30)
- Behind the scenes of Henry’s winning bid for LAFC (1:01:27)
- Growing LAFC’s fanbase – “the 3252” – in a city with 11 sports franchises (1:15:10)
- Opportunities for MBAs in sports (1:17:35)
- How Henry manages his businesses and engagements (1:25:20)
- Henry’s last advice to MBA applicants and students (1:29:40)
Henry Nguyen is the Chairman of Phoenix Holdings, an investment company with operations in consumer, media, retail, food & beverage, and financial services sectors, and Managing General Partner of IDG Ventures Vietnam. He is the Developmental Licensee of McDonalds Vietnam and Chairman of XLE Group, which develops sports at the professional, collegiate and grass roots level in Vietnam. He is also Founding Owner of Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) and one of the Founding Trustees at Fulbright University Vietnam.
After majoring in classics at Harvard University, Henry earned his MD and MBA from Northwestern University Medical School and the Kellogg School of Management.
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