Entrepreneurs

He left Brooklyn to launch a start-up in 'the next frontier': Vietnam

Three years ago, Peter Petracca was working as a consultant in New York, itching for a change.

Petracca, originally from California, decided to move to Hanoi, Vietnam.

"I was living in Brooklyn next door to a Vietnamese restaurant and would eat there three times a week," he told CNBC while in Hanoi. "I heard amazing things about the people, the architecture and, of course, loved the food, so I figured why not?"

He launched Chameleon City — an app that connects tourists and expats to locals, who can answer questions such as "Where can I get the best local food?" or "How do I get a business license?"

The rationale for going beyond Google and guidebooks: Petracca said, in a developing country like Vietnam, many platforms simply aren't reliable and up to date. For instance, a good local street food vendor may not appear on any website.

Peter Petracca, founder of Chameleon City, moved from New York to Hanoi, Vietnam for his start-up
Chameleon City
Peter Petracca, founder of Chameleon City, moved from New York to Hanoi, Vietnam for his start-up

The idea for his start-up came to him after he had a hard time adjusting to a developing country. He said he would often struggle with simple tasks like buying a new light bulb, finding local places to do his work, or locating a dry cleaning shop.

When he began meeting locals who spoke English, the adjustment became easier.

Since his move, he's seen rapid growth and more foreigners moving in. That's partially why he launched the platform: "The amount of people coming in and even the amount of friends that are contacting me, saying 'how did you do it?' ... it's incredible."

Petracca said he's recently signed partnerships with multinational companies that are relocating workers to Vietnam and are looking to make their transitions easier.

He said he's hoping to capitalize on Vietnam's growth and sees a lot of potential in the developing nation.

"There's so much smart talent in this place: bilingual, well-educated," he said. "I think this is the next frontier — of Asia and the world."