CTO Sessions: Vinh Ly, MOONHUB – IDG Connect

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Name: Vinh Ly
Company: MOONHUB
Job title: CTO and co-founder
Date started current role: February 2017
Location: London, UK
Vinh Ly is the co-founder and CTO at MOONHUB, a leading VR training software provider. As a self-taught web developer, Ly’s passion for VR inspired the creation of MOONHUB – a tool to empower workers across industries by raising the quality of on-the-job training programmes. In his role as CTO, Ly is focused on product development to deliver the most efficient solutions to its global customer base while maintaining a rigorous high standard. Ly also supports the team with his videography and editing skills, developing content to be used throughout the products’ lifespan.
What was your first job? Back in 2011, when I was 16, I had my first job in retail as a Stockroom Team Member at Hollister. I learned many transferable skills, such as problem solving, adaptability and critical thinking, which helped build the groundwork as a startup founder.
Did you always want to work in IT? I have to thank my SEGA Dreamcast for my love for technology. Growing up with gaming consoles and cameras shaped the way I engaged with challenges and how I engineered solutions. When we first started MOONHUB one of our core pillars was to create an engaging and gamified experience and I think that the young Vinh would be very proud of me. 
What was your education? Do you hold any certifications? What are they? I have a BSC in Physical Geography from Royal Holloway, University of London. I’ve always been fascinated by nature and exploration. While at university I taught myself how to use the game engine Unity that we currently use to build MOONHUB.
Explain your career path. Did you take any detours? If so, discuss. After University, I started working in retail management and I always knew what I brought to the table in that sector. However, I still had a passion for tech and always kept an eye on the best technologies to incorporate into retail. When I met Dami (CEO and Founder of MOONHUB) through a mutual friend at university he pitched me the idea of transforming corporate training and we just clicked. We had a challenging journey to kickstart MOONHUB, as it was a time when virtual reality (VR) had lots of preconceptions, so I’m quite proud of where we are today and excited about where we will be tomorrow!
What type of CTO are you? I’m task and goal orientated, driven by a passion to continuously innovate, while empowering and motivating the team to believe in MOONHUB’s vision. We’re determined to give our team agency and freedom and this in turn breeds a team that boasts a founder’s mentality. I couldn’t have asked for a better team. They make me the CTO I am today.
Which emerging technology are you most excited about the prospect of? Haptic and LiDAR technologies excite me for different reasons. I’m continuously looking at ways we can innovate what we do without engineering. Being a tech nerd at heart makes it all the more difficult!
Are there any technologies which you think are overhyped? Why? I don’t think it’s fair to say that any technologies are overhyped. I think it’s more likely that it’s not the right time for that technology, or the right use case hasn’t been identified as of yet.
What is one unique initiative that you’ve employed over the last 12 months that you’re proud of? Making structural changes within the team that have resulted in high product innovation. When we can attract talented individuals who are not only excellent at their roles but also show initiative and passion in other facets, then it’s our duty to chart a career path for them.
Are you leading a digital transformation? If so, does it emphasise customer experience and revenue growth or operational efficiency? If both, how do you balance the two? We believe that VR can transform and enhance the workplace of the future and as such we are looking to streamline the customer experience to maximise learning retention. Naturally, we aim to boost revenue and continue to expand the team. As CTO, it’s my responsibility to ensure that the commercial goals are in line with the technical roadmap. Over time, we’ve found that more often than not, it’s a case of reprioritising to make sure that everything is aligned. This is achieved through effective communication and transparency around both sides of the business.
What is the biggest issue that you’re helping customers with at the moment? Scalability of VR. We’ve built an entire infrastructure that helps our clients scale at ease, even across continents, through our in-house developed remote library updating capabilities.
How do you align your technology use to meet business goals? Our business goals are continuously shifting to meet the demands of our clients. We have a strong focus on customer satisfaction and are continuously adapting our tech focuses to accommodate for these without compromising our core values.
Do you have any trouble matching product/service strategy with tech strategy? As CTO, I’m heavily involved with products, and so the two are continuously in development in tandem, so as not to fall short in areas that may compromise one other.
What makes an effective tech strategy? Time. An effective tech strategy needs time to mature and integrate with an existing system. Technology saves time.
What predictions do you have for the role of the CTO in the future? I can see a shift from a more technical based role to a stronger focus on leadership and the growth of each individual in the team.
What has been your greatest career achievement? Our seed investment of $2.6m, backed by two amazing VCs (PiLabs and ADA Ventures). Growing MOONHUB from a big dream to a greater reality has been an immense journey. 
I’m also proud of how we’ve used our investments to expand into new sectors. We’ve just launched ELARA – a training suite focused on the health and social care sector. The first offering within this is dementia training, and we’re looking forward to seeing the tangible, positive impact on patient care that our VR training will deliver by empowering healthcare professionals.
Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, what would you have done differently? I would have made my mental health more of a priority. I can’t stress the importance of it enough, and at MOONHUB we’re big advocates of prioritising your mental health.
What are you reading now? The Infinite Game – Simon Sinek
Most people don’t know that I… Can’t swim.
In my spare time, I like to…Recycle recipes, read, run. The three Rs!
Ask me to do anything but… Dance. Karaoke, however…
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