Start-up recycles used containers for stores targeting young owners, customers
Hoang Tuan Anh has realised his start-up dream by creating the first shopping and entertaining complexes in HCM City to use recycled containers.


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The 32-year-old Tuan Anh is no stranger to the local start-up industry as he once ran a successful startup on distribution and installation of insulation panels in Australia.

His efficient business approach earned him a stable income and an opportunity to work with an Australian submarine manufacturing port on a contract worth AU$50,000, followed by other significant projects.

After returning to Vietnam in 2013 and pursuing businesses in trading, real estate and smart locks, Tuan Anh opened Eco Box in Tan Phu District, a flea market complex with an unusual concept.

“Although the amount of land in the city centre is in short supply, there are cleared sites reserved for future developments that remain untouched, at least for the next three to five years,” he told Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper.

“I’ve come up with an idea to maximise the use of these idle land plots by collecting used containers and redesigning them to make each of them two small stores, and then renting each for three to five million VND per month,” he added.

For the first few months, half of his stores are provided rent-free to students as a way to support young adults with a passion for startups. 

As a result of Eco Box’s success, Tuan Anh later opened Rubik Zoo, a shopping, dining and entertaining complex covering 5,000 square metres and housing more than 300 shops in District 1.

“Rubik Zoo is an open, clean,  smart space with many activities. It’s become a hangout spot for me and my friends during the weekend or at night,” Thao Nguyen, 22, told Vietnam News.

Quoc Cuong agreed, adding that he loved how each store is decorated with different themes and colours.

“The place is so vibrant and inspiring,” he said.

Tuan Anh said that similar concepts can be seen in many countries, particular Australia and Thailand.

“There are plenty of projects in Thailand that have built food, fashion, and exhibition halls with used containers at a low cost for young startups,” he said. “I’m glad to provide a space for youth to showcase their talents and promote their products.”

“When it comes to business, it’s necessary to think about the benefits of partners. If I were to invest in traditional shopping and entertaining complexes, I would have to return the land to authorities one day,” Anh said.

Since containers are portable and can be moved to different areas, renters are able to secure their property, he explained.

“At Eco Box and Rubik Zoo, we value property protection of clients,” he said.

In addition to the two projects, Anh plans to invest US$8 million in more used containers and build 20 hotels, with each having 50 to 100 rooms.

“Hotels and accommodation costs in HCM City are not cheap compared with other countries in the region. Most tourists, especially backpackers, need a safe place at the lowest price to stay during their visit,” he explained.

Anh is also looking for temporarily unoccupied land to build boarding houses with used containers for students and factory workers at the lowest possible price.

“Having studied overseas, I understand how rental expenses can put pressure on poor students and workers,” he explained.

VNS


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