Knowmads Hanoi is a creative business school which was originally founded in Amsterdam. Through a friend in Holland – thanks Annette – I got introduced to Andre, one of their teachers. When I was looking for a new experiment after Kuala Lumper, Andre invited me over to join Knowmads.
It’s Sunday morning. I’m back at Hanoi airport. This is where the whole thing started three months ago. Last time I was joined by one of my best buddies. Now, I’m by myself. Which makes it a bit weird being here.
I go through customs, collect my bag and grab an Uber to Deca Deli. A coffee place where Knowmads is hosting the first weekend of their seven week entrepreneurship course. After 10 minutes, the driver looks over his shoulder and nods at me. He doesn’t speak English. He presses some buttons on his cassette player. A new song starts. An instrumental version of ‘are you lonesome tonight’. I look outside, recognizing the big bridge we’re crossing, and I start laughing. Maybe I am. But I’m back in Hanoi for a new chapter of the adventure. And despite the two hours of sleep on the plane last night. I’m ready. So let’s do this!
Knowmads is different than your regular business school. They have no building. They are a team of only seven: Andre, Chris, Laura, Trang, Narayan, Mercedes and Steve. And their main thing is to teach a ‘seven weekend course’ to 25 students ranging from 18 to 35 years old.
Joining a business school, I initially thought they wanted me to give a workshop to the students. But they didn’t. And the first few days the whole team was really busy preparing for next weekend’s classes.
So, how did I spend my time? I decided to explore the city by foot. One day I walked north for two hours. The next day south. The third day I headed west. And the last day to the east. This way I stumbled upon a lot of cool things, which I’ve shared through my Instagram. And realized I’m really happy for not being a electrician in Hanoi…
It also gave me the chance to work out every day. Something I really missed. One evening, walking home from the gym, I was positive I would get arrested for being somewhere I wasn’t allowed to be:
It turned out there is a big ceremony every evening in front of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, to honor Uncle Ho (that’s how kids call him at school..).
“Home” was a house I shared with five others. Jake, an English teacher, and Shari, Verena and Caroline, three interns at a German company, took me out every evening. Eating local food like ‘pho’ (pronounced like: phe, or pha, or phu, or phi, or what worked best for me: just ask for ‘noodle soup’), ‘Bun Cha’ (a different kind of noodle soup with unidentified meat in it) and ‘Xoi Trung’ (sticky rice with egg). Continuing to drink beers at local Bia Hoi’s, before ending the night at one of the many bars.
After the second weekend of the Knowmad’s course, me and Andre decided it was time to go into action mode. I did not travel to Hanoi to only do sightseeing. Besides the ‘seven weekend course’, they want to give independent workshops. Instead of mapping out a plan how they could approach this, I saw an experiment:
To organize and host a workshop within 24 hours about how to execute ideas.
The purpose was to find out if there’s any demand for workshops like this in Hanoi.
Clickspace, a co-working space offered me one of there spaces for free. Thanks Jason! After 22 hours of preparation I was anxious no one would show up. But ten people did, which was great! We learned a lot about what works (one-on-one invites and asking for +1’s), and what doesn’t (24 hours just isn’t enough, since everyone already has evening plans).
We gave the option to the participants to pay whatever they felt like paying afterwards. I earned 400.000 Dong (18$). To put this into perspective, that’s 15% of the average Vietnamese monthly salary.
The next day I wandered through Hanoi once more. In search of a local charity to donate the 400K Dong to. Why? I realized that I’m leaving Asia after over 3,5 months. And while I really look forward to Cape Town (duhh, who wouldn’t), I’m going to miss Asia. I got so used to everything here. The people. The food. The big contrast in everything. I even became fairly good at crossing the insanely busy streets without being hit by a motorbike!
Thanks to all of you who made my time in Asia an unforgettable experience..
And I know the 18$ won’t change much, but I hope Asia will remain Asia. For when I return. Because I definitely will!