Frequently Asked Questions
ABOUT 500 STARTUPS VIETNAM (500VN)
Who is 500VN?
We are a US$10 million fund aiming to make ~100 investments into Vietnam-connected startups, i.e., startups with Vietnamese and overseas Vietnamese founders, startups addressing Vietnam market needs, and startups with a significant part of their teams based in Vietnam. As of the end of May 2018, 500 Startups Vietnam has invested in 25 companies in various verticals including E-commerce, FinTech, EdTech, AdTech, Healthcare, etc.
We are also helping to define best practices for early-stage startups in Vietnam. Specifically, we want to train Vietnamese angel investors about tech startup investment, be a guide for regional tech investors about the Vietnam opportunities, and provide resources on startup practices for founders. We also aim to streamline legal work for investment deals and help Vietnamese corporations and SMEs partner or invest in startups and innovation.
500VN INVESTMENT QUESTIONS
What does 500VN invest in?
The startups we invest in all have an internet-based form of distribution. They often fall under common themes like FinTech, SMB Productivity, Healthcare, Media & Entertainment, AgTech, EdTech & Family, E-commerce, AdTech, and more. Ultimately though, we are “vertical agnostic, returns religious” — that is, we’ll invest in almost any tech business if it can make a good return for our investors.
What criteria does 500VN look at?
• Team: We usually look for a small cross-functional team with the combination of technical skills, design talent, marketing know-how, or at least a combination of two out of the three. We look for smart, passionate people who work well together, and are driven to solve problems for a target customer group. Founders who have worked together for at least a few months are a bonus.
• Product: We have a strong preference for companies whose products are launched and have demonstrated some usage validation (beyond just friends and family). The product should address a big and painful problem for a specific target customer and rely primarily on scalable methods of distribution, particularly using online platforms (search, social, mobile, local). The product should be clearly better and/or clearly cheaper than the alternatives. Being “first” with a “creative idea” is not enough. A startup should develop true, deep competitive differentiators.
• Market: We prefer markets that are large and growing fast.
• Traction: Having traction is a demonstration of proof of concept. If the data suggests things are moving in the right direction, it will help your chances of being accepted to 500. Some metrics that we usually look at include, but are not limited to, volume of users, revenue, growth, and unit economics.
• Deal terms: We look for terms that are appropriate for the company’s traction and stage as well as scale of the market opportunity.
What is the investment process and how long does it take?
Here are basic steps everyone goes through. Sometimes we spend months developing a relationship, other times just a couple of weeks. Here’s what you can expect:
• Initial review: A member of our investment team will look at any materials you sent and determine whether the business fits our basic investment criteria. We will also look at your legal structure to understand whether it is optimized for your long-term vision.
• Initial follow-up: If the initial review passes, we’ll follow up with you via email, meeting, and/or phone call to learn more about your team and product.
• Meeting with our partner: If you’ve made it here, you’ll sit down with one or both of our partners. We’ll talk about your business and what it means to be part of the 500VN family.
• Final Decision: Our partnership will discuss your company in great detail and make a decision as a team.
What are 500VN’s investment terms?
We typically invest $40,000-100,000, though in special circumstances, we can go outside of that range. We take a standard percentage for these type of investments and do not ask for board seats.
We typically invest via convertible notes. You can read more about 500 Startups’ KISS investment template here.
My startup needs to raise more than your typical check size. Should I still approach 500VN?
Yes. We provide strategic value in addition to capital. We also frequently bring in other investors who can help accompany your financing needs.
What else can I get from 500VN?
- Direct support: Our team can help in a variety of functions including operations, marketing, hiring, and fundraising.
- Mentorship: As founders enter the 500 family, you will have access to the 500 partners in Vietnam and worldwide, seasoned entrepreneurs, experienced investors, or individuals with considerable expertise in their field to give feedback and offer you guidance.
- 500 Network: The 500 Startups network consists of a growing list of several hundred founders and mentors strong. They come from diverse backgrounds, expertise, and locations. You’ll be connected to a growing list of growth hackers, engineers, designers, marketers, and founders from not just Silicon Valley or other parts of the U.S., but also Brazil, China, India, Japan, Russia, and other international markets. It is a tight-knit community that actively communicates with each other and provides support. We really are a big global entrepreneurial family.
- Brand and PR: Associating your startup with the 500 Startups brand is valuable. Our brand helps us attract an impressive group of tech investors and press in Vietnam and globally.
- Fun: The 500 Startups culture encourages collaboration, innovation, creativity, taking risks, having fun, and being authentic. You’ll be working hard but it will be crazy, fun and like nothing else.
How do I apply for funding from 500VN?
I’m an investor and am interested in contributing to the 500VN fund. Who do I talk to?
Please email email@example.com for information about contributing to the 500 Startups Vietnam fund.
I’d like to work for a 500VN portfolio company. Where can I find a job opportunities?
You can check out the individual jobs pages of our portfolio companies to find a list of jobs. For e-mailed job opportunities at 500 Startups portfolio companies and others in Vietnam, subscribe to our regularly maintained Google Groups updates here.
Can you help me with hiring?
If you’re looking to hire, let us know about a job opportunity for the next send by submitting your info on this form.
I’d like to become a startup mentor. How do I join the 500 Startups mentor network?
Please fill out our mentorship form to start a conversation.
I’m interested in collaborating with 500VN. What types of partnerships do you consider?
We consider partnerships of all kinds. Please fill out our partnership form to start a conversation.
How do I receive regular updates from 500VN?
How can I learn more about Vietnam's startup scene?
Here are some of our suggested reads: Forbes India’s Can Vietnam become a global tech hub? and Topica Founder Institute’s Vietnam Startup Deals Insight 2017. If you want to learn more, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that we receive a lot of queries, so we may not be able to answer in a timely manner.
How do I invite 500VN to participate in my event?
Please fill out our event inquiry form to start a conversation.
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