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500 Startups Global Team Offsite

Hello all,

One of our reasons for entering the Vietnam market was the shortage in support and resources for early-stage startups.  As of 2016, there were probably fewer than 20 accelerators and incubators (most of which were lightly-active and/or under-resourced), just a few coworking spaces, and almost no active early-stage funds based here (the earlier funds having fully deployed). Sure, it represented an opportunity for us to invest and give a hand, but we also knew that it would be impossible for anyone to lift up the ecosystem alone.

Thankfully, the scene is getting new attention, especially among accelerators and coworking spaces.  A selection of news in the past couple of months:

  • Global space operator WeWork acquired China-based Naked Hub (which already had a presence in Vietnam) and will announce the first WeWork-branded space in Vietnam in 3Q 2018
  • Saigon-based coworking space CirCo raised an undisclosed amount from Indonesia-based East Ventures
  • Hanoi-based Toong has expanded rapidly in the past year with 8 locations listed on their website, including in Saigon and Vientianne (Laos)
  • RedFOX Labs is launching “Vietnam’s first blockchain coworking space” and accelerator in September in Saigon
  • Toronto-based Ryerson Futures (“for-profit entity connected with Ryerson University”) is announcing the launch of an accelerator program in partnership with private equity fund VinaCapital

Setting aside the challenging economics of coworking spaces and the challenging operations of accelerator programs, these are all great developments which we hope will raise the bar for early-stage startup support nationwide… and prepare more startups for us to invest in 😉

Meanwhile, we closed investments into startup #28 (a finance SaaS platform) and #29 (an open platform for enterprise app development), plus a follow-on investment into one of our portfolio companies.  We also identified new team members: we’ll be double our size in September.

At the end of the month we took a quick hop over to the U.S. for the 500 Startups global team offsite.  Highlights include:

  • fireside chat with Ken Lin, founder and CEO of Credit Karma (fintech unicorn + 500 portfolio company)
  • celebration of our 23rd SF/Silicon Valley accelerator batch and our upcoming 24th batch
  • ecosystem updates from our partners in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, India, China, Japan, Korea, and (of course) Southeast Asia

This month marks the 3-year anniversary of Binh and Eddie joining 500 Startups and the 2-year anniversary of Hau joining.  It’s been a wild ride so far, and we can’t wait to see what’s next!

Team 500 Startups Vietnam

P.S. Calling all Vietnamese AI startups: Innovatube, in partnership with Vietnam’s Ministry of Science & Technology, is running a survey on the AI startup ecosystem in Vietnam.  Please fill out their survey by August 15.


Vietnam in the News


  • Landmark 81 officially opens for business. At 461.5 meters tall, it is the highest building in Vietnam (and, actually, the highest in Southeast Asia too). Taiwan News. 07/27
  • Vietnam posts $3.1 billion trade surplus in Jan-July. The country’s exports rose to $133.7 billion, with the U.S, EU and China identified as the top 3 export destinations. VnExpress. 08/02
  • Foreign investors take M&A route into Vietnam. In the first 7 months of the year, there were 3,311 M&A deals involving foreign buyers, with total deal value to date of $4.8 billion. VnExpress. 07/31
  • Vietnam’s sensational Golden Hands bridge welcomes tourists with open arms. The 150-meter long walkway appears to be held up with two “giant hands” made of steel mesh and fiberglass.  Some likened to Lord of the Rings; others called it “ludicrous”. New Zealand Herald. 08/03
  • Vietnam suspends information minister amid telecoms scandal: state media. Corruption crackdown intensifies as the Minister of Information & Communications was suspended due to mismanagement at state telecoms firm Mobifone. Reuters. 07/23
  • Foreign banks enlarge operations in Vietnam. Malaysia’s Public Bank Vietnam, South Korea’s Woori Bank and Shinhan Bank, and Bank of China recently received approvals from the State Bank of Vietnam. Vietnam News. 07/17
  • New airline set to join Vietnam’s congested skies. Bamboo Airways “is seeking to capitalize on the nation’s growing middle class and rapidly expanding tourism industry”. Bloomberg. 08/01


Vietnam Tech in the News


  • Go-Jek kicks off Southeast Asia expansion with Vietnam launch. Starting at the beginning of August, Go-Viet covers an initial 12 districts in Ho Chi Minh City with on-demand motorbike and delivery services. TechCrunch. 08/01
  • E-commerce players keep burning money. “Vietnam’s e-commerce platforms keep rolling in losses and taking in massive amounts of capital” to gain more share of the attractive $4 billion e-commerce market. Vietnam Investment Review. 07/15
  • Soaring 3G, 4G use to boost mobile ads, commerce. There were >50 million data subscribers by early 2018. VnExpress. 08/06
  • Vietnam withdraws licence of news site, issues fine. The state-owned Vietnamese news website Tuoi Tre Online has been suspended and fined $10,000 after it was accused of misquoting President Trần Đại Quang in an article in June. Channel NewsAsia. 07/17
  • Vietnamese co-working space CirCO raises funding from East Ventures. Operating at two locations in Ho Chi Minh City, CirCO will use the seed funding to accelerate expansion, improve service quality and corporate branding. DealStreetAsia. 07/24
  • Securities watchdog tightens cryptocurrency management. To prevent anti-money laundering, the State Securities Commission has banned companies & investment funds from engaging in any cryptocurrency trading activities. Viet Nam News. 07/25
  • Crypto-mining firm CEO allegedly flees with $35M in investor, company funds. Beware of crypto investment scams. CoinTelegraph. 07/31


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


SDG Innovations Incubator, deadline 08/22.
Hosted by UNDP Vietnam, Citi Foundation and the Ministry of Science & Technology, the program will help social entrepreneurs turn their ideas into sustainable & scalable social impact startups. Application Page


Startup Day 2018, 08/24-25, HCMC.
Annual startup conference & exhibition organized by the Business Startup Support Center, a Ho Chi Minh City startup & entrepreneurship support initiative.
Event Page


NTT Communications Startup Challenge, 08/28, Jakarta, Indonesia.
The program, hosted by Japan’s largest telecom firm, provides Startups in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam with funding opportunities, investor networking opportunity, and quality technological infrastructure. Application 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

HATCH! FAIR 2018, 09/15 (Hanoi) & 10/19-20 (HCMC). 
International entrepreneurship conference & startup exhibition for Southeast Asia. Event Page

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