February 2019 Newsletter

February 2019 Newsletter

Image: A Đông Hồ folk woodcut painting in process

Hello all,

We all just got back from our Lunar New Year break and are thrilled to start the Year of the Pig. According to the Chinese zodiac and Vietnamese aunties & uncles, the Pig represents good fortune and prosperity. In other words, it’s the year for lucrative investments with steady and consistent returns. Whether you celebrate LNY or not, here’s to a successful year ahead.

In an interesting start to the year for Vietnam, the Trump-Kim summit will take place in Hanoi on February 27-28, carrying political and economic symbolism for both Washington and Pyongyang. “In short: North Korea’s aspiration is Vietnam’s history,” wrote TIME’s Charlie Campbell last month. What Vietnam can get from the summit, besides a moment in the international spotlight, is another matter of speculation.

In the meantime, we forge ahead with our work. In the past 4 weeks we’ve closed 3 more deals: #38 in an insurtech startup, #39 in a food startup, and #40 in a travel tech startup. To help us keep up the pace, we’ve moved to a brand new office in the heart of District 1 and brought on a new investment analyst & an eager-beaver intern. We have just a few slots to fill until the team is complete. Help us find our next startup or next team member and we’ll treat to a nice steak dinner!

Until next month,

Team 500 Startups Vietnam

 

Vietnam in the News

  • US-China trade war boosts Vietnamese city’s economy. Dan Krassenstein traces one economic boom after another, from Taiwan to China, and now to Vietnam: “Everything I’m seeing now in South Asia and Southeast Asia, it’s like ‘Groundhog Day’. It’s like 30 years ago, 20 years ago, 10 years ago.” NPR. 2/12
  • Southeast Asia bucks trend of sinking global foreign investment. Southeast Asia was the world’s “main FDI growth engine” last year, with Vietnam receiving a record $19B in FDI. Nikkei Asian Review. 2/4
  • Top 10 business events that shape Vietnam in 2018 (infographics). Grab’s acquisition of Uber Southeast Asia, World Economic Forum ASEAN, CPTPP ratification, and more. VNExpress. 12/31
  • How Vietnam went from Cold War foe to a host for Trump and Kim’s summit. Why Vietnam? For starters, trust. Washington Post. Moreover, Hanoi may offer example of reform to Pyongyang during summit. North Korea’s economy in recent years is similar to Vietnam’s economy in 1985, a year before it embarked on the Doi Moi route to reform. Voice of America. 2/11
  • ‘Napalm girl’ Kim Phuc receives German prize for peace work. The founder of the Kim Phuc Foundation is being honored for her support of Unesco and children wounded in war, and for speaking out against violence and hatred. The Guardian. 2/11

 

Vietnam Tech in the News

  • Momo, Vietnam’s top payment app, lands big Series C investment led by Warburg Pincus. The round size is rumored to be as high as $100M. Standard Chartered led a $28M round in 2016 while Goldman Sachs invested $5.8M back in 2013. TechCrunch. 1/18
  • Logistics startup LOGIVAN raises $5.5M from Alpha JWC, others. To date, the Vietnamese web platform that connects truckers with shipping capacity has raised a total of $7.9M. DealStreetAsia. 2/11
  • Cinnamon raises $15M in Series B for US expansion. Based in Tokyo and Vietnam, Cinnamon develops AI application products and expects to establish a presence in Silicon Valley. VietnamNews. 1/28
  • Media giant Yeah1 continues buying spree, acquires Thai operations of US company. Yeah1 has acquired Thoughtful Media Group’s Thai subsidiary for $1.6M. Earlier, on January 10, it paid $20M to buy Hollywood-based ScaleLab. VNExpress. 1/28
  • Vietnam-based restaurant tech startup KAMEREO raises $500K. KAMEREO allows restaurants to source and procure essential supplies online. Currently, it has over 120 suppliers and 200 restaurants signed up. Yahoo News. 1/7
  • South Korean unicorn to enter local food delivery market in 2019. Woowa Brothers would be a serious competitor to GrabFood and Now.vn, which dominate the $33M food delivery market after Lalamove left. VIR. 1/30

 

Upcoming Events

 

Australian Business Award 2019, 3/8, HCMC

Hosted by the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam, the award ceremony recognizes Australian connected businesses and individuals operating in Vietnam. Event Page

 

Echelon Roadshow 2019: Ho Chi Minh, 3/12, HCMC

Hosted by e27 in anticipation of Echelon Asia Summit in May, the event features startup insights, networking opportunities, and Echelon’s TOP100 APAC 2019 Qualifier winners from Vietnam. Event Page

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814 Mission St., 6th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103, USA

© 2010-2019 500 Startups

January 2019 Newsletter

January 2019 Newsletter

The rare saola, or Asian unicorn, in its natural habitat in Vietnam

Happy New Year!

We’re excited about 2019, but first a quick look back at 2018:

  • Ever-higher funding for Vietnamese startups! Preliminary research and analysis by Topica Founder Institute found more than $889M in financing for Vietnamese deals in 2018, representing a 3x year-on-year growth compared with $291M of 2017.
  • 500VN’s new investments equate to ~20% of the total 92 deals made in 2018. We made 19 investments last year, more than the 18 we made in 2016 and 2017 combined.
  • We also closed our fund at $14M, 40% over the initial target of $10M.
  • Our portfolio company founders continued to make us proud. Bang sold WifiChua to Appota, giving us our first exit (a few years earlier than we expected). Selcuk’s Bunch was nominated one of the best apps of 2018 by Product Hunt. And various founders reported closing a collective ~$68M in downstream capital — an impressive amount for products that are less than 3 years old.

With the new year come new resolutions that one strives to achieve. Our continuing mission is to help entrepreneurs achieve their goals, no matter where they are in the world. Towards that end, we recently launched the inaugural Saola Accelerator: each participating startup will receive $100K net investment from 500VN, the largest check from any accelerator program in Vietnam. Our partner GS SHOP will match our investment in select batch startups, bringing the total amount of potential investment in each company to $200K.

The program will be based on 500’s accelerator curriculumincluding the signature Growth Hell Weekand conclude with a Demo Day, where the companies will demonstrate their progress to invite-only regional investors. Know a strong founder with a promising Vietnam-connected startup? Refer them our way. Application deadline is January 20, with late deadline being February 15.

Elsewhere, Visa Everywhere Initiative Singapore is looking to award $25K to a startup solving core payment problems in Singapore and ASEAN.

While 500 added 7 more unicorns to our total portfolio in 2018, 500VN’s portfolio companies are starting off the year #500strong: Leflair raised $7M, with plans for Southeast Asian expansion. Panya closed $730K, and Turing launched to help entrepreneurs tap into the global talent pool for engineers.

Cheers to the year ahead,

Team 500 Startups Vietnam

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500 Startups Vietnam in the News

  • 500 Startups announces the Saola Accelerator in Vietnam. Each participating startup will receive $100K from 500VN, plus a potential additional $100K from GS Shop; access to $500K in perks from 500 Startups’ partners including Amazon, Microsoft, and Google; and connection to the #500strong global community. The program will include 500’s signature Growth Hell Week and conclude with a Demo Day. 500 Startups, DealStreetAsia, Tech in Asia, Reuters, Yahoo News, Vietnam Economic Times, VN Express. 12/19
  • Vietnam’s rising tech talent helps put country on the startup map. “Vietnam currently has around 250,000 engineers, the number of tech jobs having doubled over the last three years,” Eddie Thai said, adding that Vietnam’s IT labour costs are about 40 per cent less than in China and India. South China Morning Post. 12/29
  • Youngsters lead VN’s start-up scene. According to Bình Trần, a partner at 500 Startups and co-founder of Klout, Inc., the country’s engineers are able to build and develop products just as well as their rivals in Silicon Valley – at a cheaper cost. INQUIRER. 1/7
  • Vietnam is the next tech market for a lot of LPs: Eddie Thai, 500 Startups. The magnet that Vietnam possesses, according to Thai, is a combination of a strong economy, exciting demographics, low-cost tech talent and a position as a trade war winner amid the US-China tension. DealStreetAsia. 12/21
  • Vietnam’s e-commerce startup Leflair raises $7M funding from Belt Road, GS Shop. GS Shop, the South Korean limited partner in 500 Startups Vietnam fund, participated in the funding with $3M as its first direct investment in the country. DealStreetAsia. 1/9
  • Turing helps entrepreneurs tap into the global talent pool for engineers. “Turing lets customers push a button and instantly hire an elite, pre-vetted remote engineer,” said Turing CEO Jonathan Siddharth. Entrepreneur. 1/6
  • PayJoy, which comes pre-installed on many smartphones such as Samsung, enables consumers to finance the phone. Anyone, including those with no credit history, is approved and can pay as they go for their phone. Forbes. 12/18
  • Southeast Asian drinks, on the go. Copper Cow Coffee makes portable kits for Vietnamese coffee and Thai iced tea. New York Times. 12/31
  • Trivia game app Panya bags $730K from 500 TukTuks, 500 Startups Vietnam, BigBets, Antler, Investigate, and angel investors. Tech in Asia. 1/11
  • Bunch looks to score with video chat for mobile games. A prolific serial entrepreneur, Atli has created five companies in nine years and has led three of them to successful acquisitions. Forbes. Bunch also got nominated Mobile App of the Year on Product Hunt

 

Vietnam in the News

  • Why Vietnam could be Asia’s biggest trade war winner. Cheap labor, investment deals, geography, and the VND’s stability: Production workers in Vietnam are paid an average of $216 a month, less than half what their peers get in China. Bloomberg. 12/12
  • Vietnam’s first privately owned airport opens for business. The 290-hectare facility is wholly owned by Sun Group, a Danang-based company that specializes in tourism-, leisure- and entertainment-focused properties and projects. Nikkei Asian Review. 12/30
  • Vietnam economy remains outperformer as growth tops 7% mark. Economic growth is being buoyed by robust domestic demand, and increases in exports, manufacturing and foreign investment. Bloomberg. 12/27
  • Vietnam reaps 6 straight record year in foreign investment. Trade war drives 9% gain in 2018, pulling garment production from China. FDI in Vietnam climbed 9.1% in 2018 to reach $19.1B. Nikkei Asian Review. 1/10
  • Japanese firms pick Vietnam as Asia’s top investment spot, with India a distant second. Of 630 respondents across East Asia, Southeast Asia, India and Australia, 35.7% chose Vietnam as most promising for investment — far above the 17.8% who selected second-ranked India. Japan Times. 1/10

 

Vietnam Tech in the News

  • Vietnamese media firm Yeah1 acquires US-based ScaleLab for $20M. ScaleLab is a network of 1,750 channels for YouTube influencers who collectively have more than 400M subscribers and 3B monthly views. It recorded 2017 revenues of $27.2M. DealStreetAsia. 1/11
  • Vietnam’s Vingroup targets global markets with smartphones in tech shift. The Vietnamese firm wants to sell its smartphones and other smart products to all continents and has identified Russia and Spain, where it owns 51% of Spanish technology firm BQ, as potential markets in Europe. Reuters. 12/14
  • Vietnam’s VNG mulls $15.6M private placement in first quarter of 2019. It will sell a maximum of 360,000 treasury shares at the offering price of at least VND1M ($43.5) apiece. DealStreetAsia. 1/7
  • Vietnam’s AI awakening: 8 startups putting the country on the global AI map. Trusting Social, Sentifi, Ami and more. Analytics India. 1/3
  • Google ‘studying steps’ to open headquarters in Vietnam in accordance with cybersecurity laws. Vietnam’s information ministry also wants half of social media customers to use domestic social networks by 2020, and plans to stamp out “toxic information” on Facebook and Google. South China Morning Post. 12/12
  • Vietnam threatens to penalize Facebook for breaking its draconian cybersecurity law.  Facebook is accused of allowing users in Vietnam to post “slanderous content, anti-government sentiment and libel and defamation of individuals, organisations and state agencies,” according to a report from state-controlled media. TechCrunch. 1/9
  • Grab loses Vietnam lawsuit, ordered to pay Vinasun $200K. Vinasun sought nearly US$1.8M as compensation, which it claimed was Grab’s portion of the US$3.3M in losses that it suffered. Grab offered to invest US$2.8M in Vinasun but the Vietnamese taxi operator refused the offer. KrAsia. 12/28
  • 7 Fintech Startups from Vietnam to Watch out for in 2019. OnOnPay, Tima, and more. FinTech News. 12/14
  • Home vacation rentals startup Luxstay secures US$3M funding. The Vietnamese startup nabs the round called bridge round from CyberAgent, Y1 Venture, and others. e27. 1/2

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814 Mission St., 6th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103, USA

© 2010-2019 500 Startups

December 2018 Newsletter

December 2018 Newsletter

Friends of 500,

As we hurtle into the holiday season, our team members are taking time to reflect on the journey so far and what lies in the future. In November, we announced the final close of our fund at $14M. When we set the target at $10M in 2016, Vietnam was not an obvious tech investment destination. The country was poor, fraught with bureaucracy, and struggling to create a startup ecosystem. We wouldn’t have been here without all the support from the friends, mentors, founders, and partners we met along the way. In true Vietnamese fashion, family comes first, so here’s a big thank you to the #500strong community worldwide.

The momentum has been palpable. If Obama said “the world is taking notice” of Vietnam’s entrepreneurial spirit in 2016, this year is the second time in a row Vietnam tops places where APAC CEOs look for investment. Days ago, educational service Topica has closed its $50 million Series D – one of the highest to date for a Vietnamese tech company. While tech giants have promised to provide digital training for 20M people in Southeast Asia, Vietnam is putting itself at the forefront of high-speed data communications by quickly rolling out 5G, launching an IoT innovation hub with Ericsson in Q12019, ratifying the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, and generally winning the trade war.

Vietnam has become more than just one of a series of Southeast Asian nations jostling for previously China-based manufacturing operations. Indeed, Vietnam is well placed to strongly capitalize on China’s disrupted trade. – Forbes

With Vietnam on the verge of transformation, 500VN will continue to foster the ecosystem while ramping up our fund operations. We are actively looking for a BD and Partnerships Coordinator and an Investment Associate. If you know someone who would be a good fit, refer them our way.

As 2018 is winding down, we look forward to another year of deeper collaboration and genuine connection with the local community. In December, Eddie will be a panelist at the Lead The Change 2018 Competition before meeting university students and recent graduates at AmCham Vietnam. Enjoy your holidays, and finish this year #500strong.

See you in January,

Team 500 Startups Vietnam

500 Startups Vietnam in the News

  • An entrepreneur’s guide to Vietnam’s startup scene. Binh Tran, a partner at 500 Startups and co-founder of Klout, Inc. argues that Vietnam is particularly attractive as a startup location and a talent pool for larger companies due to the abundance of low-cost, high-tech talent, engineers and coders who are able to build and develop products just as well as their competitors in Silicon Valley — for a fraction of the cost.The Next Web. 11/16
  • Bunch scores $3.8M to turn mobile games into video chat LAN parties. The seed round is led by London Venture Partners and joined by Founders Fund, Betaworks, North Zone, 500 Startups and more. TechCrunch. 11/15
  • Copper Cow Coffee closed a $2M round led by Silverton Partners (NOSH, 12/4). The Vietnamese-inspired coffee brand also appeared in Forbes’ holiday gift guide for the travelin’ man (Forbes, 11/22) and Vogue’s best on-the-go snacks. Vogue. 11/6

Vietnam in the News

  • Vietnam continues to top places where APAC CEOs look for investment, says PwC’s Chao (video). In its survey of 1,189 business leaders across the 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies, PwC found that the biggest winners for foreign investment will be Vietnam, followed by China. Bloomberg. 11/16
  • Indonesia, Vietnam big draws for private investors, said Bain. 90% of surveyed investors said the two nations would be the hottest South-east Asian markets outside of Singapore. The Straits Times. 11/20
  • Vietnam reduces reliance on China, ratifies new Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. Despite Donald Trump’s snub, TPP trade deal will take effect at end of 2018 after Australia ratifies it. It is expected to reduce tariffs between the 11 participating economies that together add up to US$10 trillion. South China Morning Post. 11/13
  • M&A takes center stage in Vietnam’s foreign investment landscape. The finance, property, retail, and consumer goods sectors will continue to dominate M&A in Vietnam. VNExpress. 11/29

Vietnam Tech in the News

  • Topica raises $50M for its online learning services in Southeast Asia. Topica offers a range of different services that include English-language tutoring and university-level courses, but it has expanded to less traditional disciplines, including a “founders institute” accelerator program and a 3D “technologies” program. TechCrunch. 11/27
  • Vietnam signs agreement with Ericsson to open Internet of Things Innovation Hub. The hub will be located at Hòa Lạc Hi-Tech Park in Hanoi and will launch in 1Q2019. Yahoo News. 11/30
  • Vietnam to begin testing 5G networks next year. Vietnam hopes to jump-start its telecom industry and boost high-tech manufacturing by quickly rolling out 5G. Nikkei Asian Review. 11/16
  • Vingroup to launch smartphones next week as part of tech push. VinSmart is also working with Qualcomm and Alphabet Inc’s Google to “update the most advanced technology in the smartphone sector”. Reuters. 12/3

Events

 

 

 

Lead The Change 2018 Final Round, 12/13, HCMC
GP Eddie Thai will be a panelist at the annual startup contest organized by the University of Economics, HCMC with supporting from the US Consulate, the Consulate General of Italy, Accelerator Startup Campus in Korea, and others. Event Page

AmCham Networking Night, 12/14, HCMC
Eddie Thai will be meeting with university students/recent graduates and speaking alongside Linh Pham (Logivan) and Ha Lam (Triip.me) on the topic of rising from your failure. Organized by AmCham Vietnam. Event Page

San Francisco
814 Mission St., 6th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103, USA

© 2010-2019 500 Startups

November 2018 Newsletter

November 2018 Newsletter

Panel discussion with members of Forbes’s “Midas List” of leading venture capitalists at 500’s annual VC industry conference, PreMoney. Photo: Sumit Kohli @sreelphoto

Hi all,

At the beginning of October, we held our annual global LP meeting as well as our annual VC industry conference, PreMoney. Discussions ranged from nuts and bolts topics like “The State of Data & Experimentation in Venture” to industry trends like “The Impact of Massive Funds” and “Navigating Generational Change in VC”. Get your dose of straight talk and watch the panel discussions here.

With Vietnam emerging as the winner of the US-China trade war and primed for an M&A boom, it’s a good time to be investing. Indeed, we closed deal #36 to help companies leverage engineering talent in Vietnam and elsewhere. Meanwhile, we also took time to honor our founders and our partners.

In conjunction with National Women’s Day on October 20 (Vietnam celebrates women’s day twice a year) we had the chance to feature the stories of women who lead: our portfolio companies’ female founders. Recently Eddie helped judge the WISE Women Innovation Challenge and encouraged 12 innovative women-led startups to champion their space. We also charted seven woman VC warriors to watch in Vietnam, including our investment manager Hau Ly as well as other VCs from Startup Viet Partners, Openspace Ventures, VinaCapital, and Patamar, among others.

Until then,

Team 500 Startups Vietnam

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500 Startups Vietnam in the News

 

  • Copper Cow Coffee in Fortune’s Holiday Gift Guide 2018: Coffee and Tea. A Vietnamese-style cup of coffee with a strong, nutty brew that can be whipped up anywhere. Fortune. 11/1
  • AppOnBoard’s App Store Demos on Google Play see big growth. “Google is using AppOnBoard’s technology to enable users to tap on demo apps in the store and play the game instantly in a highly visible feature dubbed Google Play Instant.” VentureBeat. 10/18
  • Beam scores funding to bring e-scooters to Singapore. The e-scooter startup raised $6.4 million from investors including Sequoia, Founders Fund, ZhenFund, and 500 Startups to transform shared personal mobility in Asia. Bloomberg. 10/23
  • PayJoy secures $20M in debt financing from Arc Labs. The company helps consumers with not only mobile device financing, but also unsecured lending, by using a customer’s phone for underwriting data and as collateral. Crowdfund Insider. 11/1. The company also partnered with major banks and network providers to boost smartphone penetration in Nigeria and help close its digital divide. TechFinancials. 11/5

 

 

Vietnam in the News

 

  • Vietnam, France sign deals worth more than $10 billion. The prime ministers of France and Vietnam witnessed the signing of two business deals worth over $10 billion and dozens of other agreements covering energy, education, health, technology and the environment. Voice of America. 11/2
  • Vietnam is winning the US-China trade war. As the trade war heats up, more firms are rerouting their production to Vietnam. Foreign Policy. 10/30
  • Vietnam begins life under new strongman President Nguyen Phu Trong. General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong became the first person to hold both titles since founding father Ho Chi Minh in the 1960s. TIME. 10/24
  • Vietnam to Launch MicroDragon Earth Observation Satellite in December. An important milestone in the nation’s road map to master satellite design and production. Via Satellite. 10/22
  • Vietnam primed for M&A boom as foreign ownership limit eases. Pharmaceuticals and banking will attract more foreign investment as state-owned companies look to divest. Nikkei Asian Review. 11/1
  • Vietnam to ratify Pacific Rim trade pact. The agreement is expected to improve Vietnam’s investment environment and to create between 20k-26k new jobs a year. ABC News. 11/2

 

 

Vietnam Tech in the News

 

  • KKR pumps $145 Million into Southeast Asia’s top property app. The Series D financing will help PropertyGuru take full control of leading Vietnamese real estate site Batdongsan.com.vn. Bloomberg.10/31
  • Vietnam releases cybersecurity draft decree. The draft required tech companies such as Facebook and Google to set up offices in Vietnam. Reuters. 11/2
  • Cooky, a Vietnamese food recipe portal, raised $500,000 in a funding round led by ESP Capital. With 40,000 online recipes and 200 offline cooking tutorial sessions, Cooky attracts over 3 million visits per month. DealStreetAsia. 10/29
  • Uiza snatches top spot at Tech in Asia Jakarta 2018 Arena. The video and livestream cloud API platform from Vietnam leverages data science to optimize viewing experience. Tech in Asia.10/24
  • Vietnamese prosecutor recommends Grab be treated as taxi service. As the lawsuit between local taxi firm Vinasun and Grab is still ongoing, so is the debate about whether Grab is a taxi service or not. DealStreetAsia. 10/30

 

 

Upcoming Events

 

Startup Viet 2018, 11/15, HCMC
Hau will be judging the top 5 pitches from Startup Viet, an annual startup pitching contest and tribute gala hosted by VNExpress. Event Page

NTT Com Startup Challenge Vietnam 2018, 11/22, HCMC

Startup pitches, panel discussion, and meeting with VCs from Monk’s Hills Ventures, 500 Startups Vietnam, and Golden Gate Ventures among others. Event Page

Techfest 2018: From Here to Global, 11/29-12/1, Da Nang

Eddie will be speaking on a panel about Vietnam’s VC landscape, Techfest 2018 is a 3-day event with +100 investors and +200 startups from Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and others. Event Page

Vietnam Web Summit, 12/6, HCMC. 12/13 Hanoi

Organized by TopDev, the annual festival expects to provide 150 technical seminars as well as networking and recruiting opportunities. Event Page

San Francisco
814 Mission St., 6th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103, USA

© 2010-2019 500 Startups

October 2018 Newsletter

October 2018 Newsletter

Eddie during the session “Start-Ups: Driving Innovation” at the World Economic Forum on ASEAN 2018. Image: WEF / Sikarin Thanachaiary

Hello all,

In September, Vietnam recently hosted this year’s World Economic Forum on ASEAN, bringing together political, business, and civil society leaders to discuss the latest on “Industrial Revolution 4.0”, ASEAN integration, sustainable development, and human rights.

Eddie was invited to join the meeting and speak on a plenary session focused on startups, alongside Tan Hooi Ling (co-founder, Grab), Shailendra Singh (managing partner, Sequoia), and others. Speakers observed that it’s never been easier in Southeast Asia to launch a venture—whether a clone, adaptation, or innovation—but at the same time there was still work to ensure inclusivity in access to capital, networks, and other resources.

Towards that end, 500 Startups Vietnam welcomed four new colleagues (i.e. doubling our team size) to support investment, portfolio support, and other operations. Born and raised in different parts of Vietnam, they bring diverse work experience ranging from startups, like Anduin Transactions (backed by 8VC and 500 Startups) and Topica EdTech, to larger companies like Lazada, Deloitte, and KPMG. We’re thrilled to have them! Hopefully folks in Vietnam will have a chance to meet them soon.

In September we also closed investments into company #33 (enterprise fintech), #34 (transportation), and #35 (cross-border ecommerce), bringing the third quarter’s deal count to a record high 8 deals closed! Meanwhile, two portfolio companies reported closing a combined $3M of downstream capital, with participation from investors in Silicon Valley, Asia, and Europe. That brings total downstream capital closed to ~$45M (by our estimation as reported by our portfolio companies) through Q3 2018, exceeding our expectations so far for a portfolio whose average holding period is <9 months. We have several companies fundraising in the next 3-6 months; if you haven’t already shared your investment preferences with us, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Yours,

Team 500 Startups Vietnam

 

 

Vietnam in the News

  • Vietnam fastest growing ASEAN economy: Standard Chartered Bank. SCB expects Vietnam to maintain the robust GDP growth of 7% and remain the fastest-growing ASEAN economy in 2018 and 2019.  VietnamNews. 10/8
  • Vietnam’s first female president takes over after Tran Dai Quang dies at 61. Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh will be the acting president until the National Assembly elects a new leader. Bloomberg. 9/23
  • Vietnam shines despite Southeast Asia’s struggles with trade and emerging market pressures. With $11.25 billion in FDI from January to August, Vietnam is defying the stress in emerging markets as its Southeast Asian rivals face an uncertain outlook. CNBC. 10/9
  • Prime Minister meets US firms to talk investment in Vietnam. PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc welcomes foreign businesses and investors to Vietnam to tap into local technological and labour advantages. SGGP. 9/28
  • Vietnamese students win record 8 gold medals at int’l science, math contest. The national team with 23 students also won ten silver and five bronze medals. VNExpress. 10/4

 

Vietnam Tech in the News

  • Fast and serious: Vietnam’s first domestic car manufacturer bets big. “Where else in the world can you do this with this sort of speed?” said Shaun Calvert, vice president of manufacturing at VinFast. Reuters. 10/1
  • Vietnam’s Tima raises US$3M in Series B funding round, nearing US$20M valuation. The consumer finance marketplace and peer-to-peer lending platform raised capital from private equity fund Belt Road Capital Management. e27. 10/1
  • Vietnam reaches for a homegrown tech revolution. Zalo, a messaging app, reportedly has 70 million subscribers and 35 million active users in Vietnam, far more than competitors like China’s WeChat or WhatsApp. Asia Times. 9/27
  • Vietnam’s first car-hailing app FastGo heads overseas. Hanoi-based FastGo is a member of NextTech Group, with sister companies pioneers in fintech, e-commerce, e-logistics and investment across Southeast Asia. Nikkei Asian Review. 10/8
  • Grab announces partnership with local e-wallet app Moca. The Vietnam-based digital payment service will handle cashless payment across Grab’s services in Vietnam. Saigoneer. 9/26
  • Vietnam-based B2B logistics startup EcoTruck raises US$1.7M in Pre-Series A round. EcoTruck assists merchants in contacting vendors, tracking the delivery, managing customs, and loading/unloading. e27. 9/18
  • Southeast Asia’s Logistics Startups Are Winning Big By Tailoring Themselves To Local Markets. Giao Hang Nhanh’s technology backbone provides fast coordination—target delivery time within a metro is two hours max—while keeping costs low. Forbes. 10/5

 

Upcoming Events

 

Women’s Summit by Forbes Vietnam, 10/18, HCMC.

The event features keynote speeches, one-on-one interviews, and panel discussions on women leadership and women empowerment in Vietnam. Event Page

WISE Women Innovation Challenge Demo Day, 10/22, HCMC

12 women-founded startups from Vietnam and the Mekong Region compete in the final round, hosted by WISE (Women’s Initiative for Startup and Entrepreneurship). Event Page

Vietnam Digital Economy Forum 2018, 11/1, HCMC

The event themed “Challenges & Strategic Solutions for SMEs in the Fourth Industrial Revolution” draws various stakeholders from national policy-making bodies, academia, and corporates. Event Page

Seamless Vietnam 2018, 11/7-8, HCMC

Over 110 free conference sessions and 40 exhibitors highlight the future of commerce at the event hosted by Fintech Vietnam News. Event Page

 

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814 Mission St., 6th Floor
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© 2010-2019 500 Startups

September 2018 Newsletter

President Tran Dai Quang meeting with 100 overseas Vietnamese scientists and tech experts in the Vietnam Innovation Network program

Hello all,

While the eCommerce war here rages on—last month, Sendo announced a >$50M fundraise led by SBI Group — there are players in Vietnam focused on pushing into deeper tech and more complex applications.  For example:

  • VinGroup announced plans to launch an “Institute of Big Data”, with $40M committed to support development of AI capabilities in Hanoi
  • The governments of Ho Chi Minh City and Yamanashi Prefecture (Japan) announced cooperation to develop agri-tech, smart city, and other automation research
  • Various folks including (500-backed founder Thuc Vu) have begun the next iteration of their grassroots effort, VietAI, to educate and build a community of world-class AI talent in Vietnam.

Even so, there is still some way to go.  As Vietnam-born technologist Albert Antoine (co-founder ILOG, acq’d by IBM) noted at Vietnam Startup Day 2018, changes in mindset and a focus on applications (rather than raw R&D) might help Vietnamese engineers catch up faster.

500 Startups Vietnam continues to do our part.  In August, our 29th deal was publicly announced, plus the closing of deals #30, #31, and #32.  This month we will be doubling the size of our team to maintain/increase our rapid investment pace and support to our portfolio companies.  And we’re continuing to take meetings with founders, investors, policymakers, and other ecosystem stakeholders.  Catch Binh in Saigon September 12-25, Eddie in Hanoi September 11-13, or both in San Francisco on October 2 for 500’s annual VC industry conference, “PreMoney”!

Yours,
Team 500 Startups Vietnam

 

Vietnam in the News

 

  • How Vietnam Fell in Love with John McCain. “We consider him to be the man who started reconciliation and re-establishing diplomatic relations and normalisation between the US and Vietnam”. SCMP. 08/31
  • Can Vietnam Avoid Getting Hurt in the U.S.-China Tariff Crossfire?“Together, the U.S. and China accounted for 35 percent of Vietnam’s exports in 2017. When the trade war broke out, so did the ominous headlines…But soon another sort of reaction began taking place: many foreign companies with stakes in China have started shifting production to Southeast Asia”. NYT. 08/29
  • From Extreme Turmoil to Calm, Vietnam Stocks Attempt a Comeback. Vietnam’s stock market seems to be entering a calmer period after a few months of macroeconomic turbulence stemming from trade war contagion fears and a higher U.S. dollar. Bloomberg. 08/28
  • Vietnam may reach new foreign investment record in 2018. In the first eight months of 2018, foreign investors spent a total of $24.35 billion to “register new and added capital as well as to contribute capital and purchase shares”. Vietnam Investment Review. 09/04
  • Vietnam pushes for development of domestic private sector.Previously dependent on export-oriented manufacturing, Vietnam is now actively developing its domestic private sector as a key driver of growth. Channel NewsAsia. 08/15
  • Inside the ambitious 1,545km high-speed railway project that links Saigon with Hanoi. The project is estimated to cost almost $60 billion and, once completed, can reduce the Saigon-Hanoi trip duration from over 30 hours to just around 8 hours. Saigoneer. 09/04

 

Vietnam Tech in the News

 

  • 7 women VC warriors to watch in Vietnam. The current tech wave in Vietnam is being powered in part by several outstanding women VCs, including 500’s own Hau Ly, Eddie notes.  LinkedIn.  08/22
  • Billionaire’s firm to launch US$44M fund for machine learning, AI in Vietnam. VinGroup’s intention to become a tech-centric corporation is illustrated by its upcoming launch of the Institute of Big Data. The institute aims to train students and scientists in applied science as well as funds research projects. VnExpress. 08/23
  • Vietnamese C2C portal Sendo nets US$51M from SoftBank, SBI, and others. The funds raised will be used to improve Sendo’s current C2C portal and launch its new B2C marketplace, Senmall. Tech in Asia. 08/16
  • Startup Viet Partners announces US$5M fund. Backed by 10 local Vietnamese LPs with networks and experience in various industries in Vietnam, SV Partners hopes to help startups better serve the needs of local businesses. e27. 08/24
  • VC fund VinaCapital Ventures launches in Vietnam. The VC fund, VinaCapital’s second VC fund, will typically write checks ranging from US$2–10M and has invested in two Vietnamese startups. Yahoo! News. 08/30
  • Vietnam’s online travel app Vntrip raises third round from Swiss IHAG Holding. Vietnam’s Expedia clone has plans to increase its resources and grab greater share in the online air ticket sector. DealStreetAsia. 08/20
  • Grab partners with Vietnamese firm for payment service. Grab’s deal with Moca, the Vietnamese mobile payment startup, further solidifies its grip of the regional fintech market. Reuters. 09/11
  • Vietnamese logistics startup LOGIVAN raises US$1.75M to expand services. LOGIVAN, a Hanoi-based logistics startup, offers a platform that connects freights with truckers. e27. 08/29

Upcoming Events

 

PreMoney, 10/02, San Francisco. 
PreMoney is a one-day conference, produced by 500 Startups, about the most disruptive strategies, models, & technologies for the future of venture capital.
Event Page
Vietnam AWS Community Day 2018, 09/17, HCMC. 
A full day event featuring strategic and technical discussions led by expert AWS users and community leaders in Asia Pacific. Event Page
Google Demo Day Asia, 09/20, Shanghai, China.
Google’s first-ever Demo Day in Asia will highlight innovative technology and drive investment. Event Page
Vietnam Frontier Summit, 10/06, Hanoi. 
The summit, supported by Ministry of Science and Technology, will discuss trends and impacts of frontier technologies such as AI, VR/AR, Blockchain, and IoT. Event Page

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