Having caught the attention of some of the world’s largest corporations, two Vietnamese entrepreneurs have now chosen Nova Scotia as their company’s new home.
Henry Pham and Joe Nguyen are the creators of TablePlus, a computer program that helps data scientists and software developers interact with large information databases.
Their product is used by staff at several Fortune 500 companies, including Google, IBM and Amazon.
“TablePlus is an app that helps developers and whoever works with data on a regular basis,” said Nguyen in an interview. “It helps them connect to the database easier, faster, and more efficiently.”
Pham and Nguyen relocated to Halifax this year as part of the federal government’s Start-up Visa Program, which aims to facilitate immigration by entrepreneurs.
They were assisted by venture capital Crown corporation Innovacorp, and their base of operations is now The Labs at Innovacorp, on the edge of Dalhousie University’s Studley campus.
Their choice to come to Halifax reflects one of their business’s core values: customer service.
TablePlus’s largest market is the United States, with Canada and Europe as the runners-up. When Pham and Nguyen were living in Vietnam, they discovered that their time zone was preventing them from responding efficiently to customer questions and support requests.
“You get up when [customers] are going to bed, and you go to bed when they’re getting up,” said Pham. “It didn’t really work very well.”
Moving to Nova Scotia was their solution to this problem.
Availability of efficient customer support is particularly important for TablePlus because it faces significant competition in the marketplace.
Most large collections of data, such as those gathered by major tech companies, are stored in a file structure called a table. TablePlus is an interface through which users can access and modify these tables.
But other companies offer similar database management tools. Rather than creating a completely new market, Pham and Nguyen are tapping into an existing one by aiming to offer a better product and better service.
Pham said that most of TablePlus’s competing products are old and inefficient, with some having been designed decades ago.
“I think I can fairly say that [the competitors] are outdated and they’re not really responsive to the customers, and that many of their customers are upset,” said Nguyen. “I think we have the advantage in terms of our technology and our fast responses to the customer.”
He added that key processes, such as saving work, are more convenient in TablePlus and that the user interface is more aesthetically pleasing.
The business’s customer roster suggests this strategy is working. Its website lists users at organizations ranging from Spotify, to Intel, to Stanford University.
In some cases, Nguyen said, corporate clients purchase the software directly. In other cases, they buy it from third-party resellers or individual employees choose to pay for it themselves.
Pham also said that the startup-friendly business environment in Halifax makes it an appealing place to grow a company.
“The government is doing a really good job of encouraging entrepreneurs to hire,” he said.
To date, the software is available for Windows, MacOS and iOS. A Linux version is in development.
Including Nguyen and Pham, TablePlus has four employees. It has not accepted venture capital or angel investment yet and doesn’t immediately plan to.
But in the long term, Pham said, a fundraising round is probably in the company’s future.