2008 Distinguished Alumnus Nguyen
Journeys from Nightmare to Dreams
Yung Tien Nguyen (pronounced young win), co-founder of The Vine Company and IVS, LLC, has been named Speed School’s 2008 Distinguished Alumnus.
Nguyen holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 1986, a master’s degree in computer science in 1988, and a master’s degree in mathematics in 1990—all from UofL.
Nguyen and a business partner, Mike Davis, founded The Vine Co. (now known as Appriss Inc.) in 1994 following a young woman’s brutal murder that shocked the Louisville community.
The woman, Mary Byron, was killed by a former boyfriend out on bond. She had not been notified of his release.
When Nyugen and Davis heard about the case they started Vine (Victim Information & Notification Everyday). It is an automated computer system that gives crime victims access to offender information 24 hours a day and automatically notifies them by phone, pager, email, or fax upon an offender’s release.
In five years, the Vine Co. grew to 100 employees. The victim notification technology is now in use in more than 2,000 counties in 36 states and in Canadian provinces.
Nguyen and his partner shared an Ernst & Young 1997 Entrepreneur of the Year Award for their efforts. Nguyen also received the 1998 Founder’s Award from the Advanced Technology Council of Louisville, and several other honors from UofL.
Another controversy spurred Nguyen to develop another technology and company.
Following acrimony over the 2000 presidential election recount in Florida, Nguyen researched ways to resolve voting machine problems.
In 2002, he invented a patented voting technology called Inspire and founded IVS (Inspire Voting System), a voting services company to market it.
IVS specializes in accessible, affordable voting systems that aid states and counties that use optical-scan or other non-accessible voting systems to comply with new federal requirements for precinct-level accessibility.
Nguyen’s life story prior to his entrepreneurial ventures is equally interesting.
Born and raised in Saigon, Vietnam, Nguyen endured a harsh life under the communist regime after the fall of the South Vietnamese government in 1975. His escape to America—and the American Dream—was a harrowing journey.
In 1980, a Cambodian guide smuggled him to safe refuge in Thailand. He traveled on foot and bike through Cambodian jungles and was the only member of his group to arrive safely in Thailand.
After almost two years in refugee camps in Southeast Asia, Nguyen arrived in America with nothing. He made his home in Louisville, where his uncle, a former pilot in the South Vietnamese air force, had earlier settled. His first job in this country was washing dishes at a Louisville Chinese restaurant.
Nguyen furthered his education while attending Jefferson Community College and UofL. He worked for a decade at Electronic Systems USA as a software designer, project manager, and as an engineering department manager.
As the result of his own life journey, Nguyen founded and is chairman of Lac Viet, a non-profit program that provides after school and tutoring services to immigrant children. The organization also seeks to help immigrant parents who speak limited English to get involved in their children’s education.
He and his wife, Khanhdung Nguyen ’92S (better known as “Vu”), have three children and live in Louisville.
At the May 9, 2008 awards ceremony, Nguyen expressed gratitude.
“I thank you for this special award. I am humbled and honored by your presence here tonight,” he said. “I look around and see some of my teachers and advisers that I had 20 years ago and want you to know that you have prepared me very well for my future and for that I appreciate your dedication.”