Image: 500 Vietnam Manager Hau Ly in Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2019
Driving Vietnam’s record-level of venture funding in 2018 as reported by Topica Founder Institute was a handful of large ($50M+) deals, e.g.
- ≥$100M rounds in Be and VATO, two local ride-sharing clones
- $100M in a pre-IPO subscription for media company Yeah1
- $51M Series B for ecommerce website Sendo
- $50M Series D for Topica EdTech Group
- >$40M Series C for ecommerce website Tiki
Some negative hits notwithstanding (entertainment company Yeah1 having its content-hosting agreement with YouTube terminated; ride-hailing app GO-VIET parting ways with its CEO), the momentum seems set to continue into 2019. January saw the announcement of Warburg Pincus’s $100M investment into ewallet provider Momo, and it was reported in March that Tiki is finalizing a $75M investment from Northstar. This month we took meetings with various notable investors looking to understand more about the Vietnam ecosystem and potentially identify for opportunities, including Sequoia, GGV (the marquee China/SF fund), Korea Investment Partners, and Eight Roads (Fidelity’s venture arm).
We are happy to help deliver great companies to later-stage investors like these. One of our companies recently closed a >$30M Series B (not yet announced), one of a half-dozen that successfully raised money in Q1. Another 10+ of our companies may aim to raise new financing within 2019.
Critical to our work has been the efforts of Hau Ly. Hau joined us almost 3 years ago, in response to a job post seeking our “missing link”. Since then she has worked on investment, portfolio support, fund operations, and now our SF-inspired, Saigon-based Saola Accelerator. It’s been amazing to see how much she’s grown and an honor to have her stay committed. So we were thrilled by her just-announced recognition on Forbes Asia’s 2019 30 Under 30 list.
Our founders’ progress and Hau’s efforts exemplify our mission of support Vietnam’s most promising tech startups. While we continue to be focused on that for the seed-stage for now—we just completed a quarter-long marathon sifting through thousands of tech companies in our internal database, and we’ll launch our Vietnam accelerator program later in Q2—we are beginning to think about “What’s next?”
Let us know if you’d like to join the conversation!
Until next month,
Team 500 Startups Vietnam
Alibaba’s eFounders Fellowship is looking for digital ventures that have been in operation for at least 2 years, and are based in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, or Vietnam. Apply by 4/7.
SC Ventures, the innovation, ventures and fintech investments unit of Standard Chartered Bank, has created SC Ventures Fintech Bridge, a platform to connect community builders such as startups, investors and accelerators. Join or recommend a company.
2019 Visa Everywhere Initiative – Women’s Global Edition celebrates women entrepreneurs with a $100K prize to each challenge winner. Apply by 4/14.
500 Startups Vietnam in the News
Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2019 – Finance and Venture Capital: Hau Ly. “Championing gender equality in tech in Vietnam is Hau Ly, 500 Startups manager based in Ho Chi Minh City. Although not yet a partner, Ly is instrumental in helping the $14 million fund invest more than a quarter of the capital into local next generation entrepreneurs. In addition to managing the ecosystem operations, she also leads the Saola Accelerator.” Forbes. 4/1
Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2019 – Consumer Technology: Alan Jiang and Deb Gangopadhyay. The co-founders of Beam believe that in dense Asian cities, personal car ownership will eventually be replaced by shared electric vehicles. Forbes. 4/1
Vietnam is shaping up to be Southeast Asia’s next hottest startup ecosystem. Having “plenty of low-cost high-tech talent” is also an advantage for the country, with US tech giant IBM projecting that “Vietnam could be top three in the world by the number of engineers in five years,” explains Eddie. Tech in Asia. 3/20
Hiip, Vietnam’s leading social influencer platform, closes Series A. Vnet Capital led the round; Japan Strategic Capital, Tokyo-listed marketing technology company Rentracks, and Singapore-based Vulpes Investment Management joined. e27. 3/25
A brain drain in reverse. Binh told ASEAN Today that overseas Vietnamese bring “global cultural perspectives, knowledge of modern product development design and processes as well as a better understanding of capital options” to the tech industry. ASEAN Today. 3/20
The uniqueness of startup founders in Southeast Asia: Venture Voices. “Compared with startup ecosystems in Singapore and Indonesia, Vietnam’s ecosystem is still a few years behind. This has required Vietnamese founders to learn how to be resourceful and agile. With all else equal, I think this makes them more competitive in the long run than their counterparts in more cash-rich ecosystems,” said Eddie. KrAsia. 4/2
F&B products that are actually giving back this International Women’s Day. Copper Cow Coffee, a women-owned and sustainably sourced Vietnamese pour-over coffee startup, will be donating 20% of all sales to Women for Women International. Refinery29. 3/9
Vietnam in the News
Vietnam Q1 GDP growth slows to 6.8%. The government has targeted economic growth of between 6.6 percent and 6.8 percent this year. Reuters. 3/29
Gaw Capital says Vietnam is a ‘no-brainer’ investment (video). “Vietnam will still likely in the next 5-7 years be the highest-return market of any Southeast Asia markets, or any Asia markets for that matter,” said Goodwin Gaw. Bloomberg. 3/26
How will foreign investment change Vietnam’s economy? Vietnam is currently at a turning point, looking back at simple exports like rice and Reeboks that helped it develop, and looking forward to a more advanced economy along the lines of Taiwan or South Korea. Voice of America. 3/25
Vietnam students invent air-cleaning bicycle. Test results show that the device could filter up to 86% of dust and 63% of nitrogen oxide. BBC. 3/29
U.S. real estate developers look to Vietnam for cheap financing. The EB-5 program offers green cards in return for investing in job-creating US businesses or real-estate projects. About 20% of EB-5 investment in American real estate now comes from Vietnam, putting it behind India’s 25% and China’s 30%. Wall Street Journal. 3/5
Vietnam Tech in the News
Vietnam’s Tiki set to raise $75M funding round led by PE firm Northstar. Previously, JD.com lead a Series C investment round in Tiki alongside VNG, the Vietnam-based online media and gaming company in January 2018. DealStreetAsia. 3/29
GOJEK’s Vietnam CEO steps down, takes on advisory role. Nguyen Vu Duc helped deploy Uber’s services in Vietnam before becoming co-founder and CEO of Go-Viet, which began operations last August. TheLEADER. 4/1
YouTube to end content-hosting agreement with Vietnam’s Yeah1. As a result of the termination, Yeah1 is considering selling California-based ScaleLab, which the Vietnamese company just bought for $20M in January. Bloomberg. 3/9
Breakthrough as Vietnam licenses the first crypto exchange. The current license gives the company the mandate to operate in Vietnam in spite of the authorities banning crypto activities. Yahoo News. 3/28
Vietnam ‘state-aligned’ hackers are targeting auto firms. “It is likely to support the Vietnamese government’s publicly stated domestic manufacturing goals for automobiles,” said Nick Carr of FireEye. Bloomberg. 3/20
Vietnamese ride-hailing app FastGo to launch in Singapore in April. Unlike some ride-hailing apps, FastGo will charge its driver-partners a fixed daily subscription fee instead of collecting commission fees. Yahoo News. 3/22
Jio Health raises a $5M Series A, combines online and offline healthcare in Southeast Asia, starting in Vietnam. The “full-stack” healthcare startup operates an online healthcare app and a physical facility in Saigon. TechCrunch. 4/1
Digital gifting and loyalty platform UrBox raises seed funding to expand into SEA. The startup connects businesses with gift suppliers and merchants to enhance their rewards and loyalty programs. UrBox’s merchants include 7-Eleven, Family Mart, Shopee, and Grab. Tech in Asia. 3/29
Vingroup opens VinTech research centre in South Korea. Vingroup will invest $11M into VinTech Korea to research application of IoT, AI, robotics, and smart manufacturing plants. Vietnam News. 3/5
Venture Builder vs. Venture Capital: Choosing your early-stage funding partners, HCMC, 4/5
Panelists from Fram, REAPRA and Patamar Capital discuss the fundamental differences in investment philosophy, equity structure, founder selection criteria and support system between venture builder and venture capital firms. Ticket
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