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Image: Partner Binh Tran moderating a panel on how to scale a tech team, with Turing CEO Jonathan Siddharth and Meltwater CTO Aditya Jami

Hi all,

After the failed Trump-Kim meeting in Hanoi, people are discovering that North Korea is not quite Vietnam: “Vietnam had the right leaders, despite their well-documented flaws, at just the right time—as the Cold War was winding down, and the markets were set to open globally. North Korea has no such benefit.” That said, we do believe that people tend to overestimate what can happen in 2-3 years and underestimate what can happen in 20-30 years. After all, nobody in 1989 could imagine Vietnam looking like it now does in 2019.

Vietnam is facing a new dilemma. In just 10 years, the country’s wealth grew by 210%, with its “super-rich” class expanding faster than that of India and China. Local corporations are buying billions worth of Boeing jets, and foreign investors and local nouveau riche are flooding into Vietnam’s luxury condo market. So far, some of the country’s economic growth has been able to trickle down to lower- and middle-class Vietnamese, but inequality still seems to be rising precipitously fast. We hope our portfolio companies will be able to democratize access to resources and opportunities and support long-term sustainable economic growth.

This Friday is International Women’s Day. The BBC recently ran an article titled “What North Korea can learn from Vietnam’s women”, whom, in fact, everyone can learn from. We’ve been, and remain, inspired by 7 women VC warriors and entrepreneurial women who lead. We celebrate all women this month, including ELSA’s co-founder Vu Van, who recently announced the close of Series A financing led by Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI-focused fund.

ELSA’s announced round helps our portfolio companies break the US$100 million mark in downstream capital reportedly raised. This progress is even starker considering the fund has invested only ~US$3M of our $14M committed capital since initial close less than 2 years ago. We’re proud of our founders’ pursuit of game-changing products and services, and grateful to the great investors who support them & us.

Until next month,

Team 500 Startups Vietnam



Vietnam in the News

Vietnam and the dilemma of new wealth. More than 200 Vietnamese have investable assets of at least $30M. Having expanded by 320% from 2000 to 2016, Vietnam’s “super-rich” class is growing faster than that of India and China. Project Syndicate. 2/28

The hot new market for luxury property is Vietnam. Home ownership rates exceed 90%, one of the highest in the world. Rising values mean there are middle-class families with dwellings in excess of $1M. Bloomberg. 2/19

Two Vietnamese budget airlines greet Trump with $20.9B worth of Boeing and GE jet deals. Separately, Vietnam Airlines is also thinking about buying 50 to 100 Boeing 737 Max jets this year. Nikkei Asian Review. 2/27

Hanoians warmly welcome North Korea and US leaders (photos). Vietnam News. 2/28

What North Korea can learn from Vietnam’s women. There are now more female business owners in Vietnam than anywhere else in Asia, and they own many of the SMBs which make up 40% of the country’s GDP. BBC. 2/27



Vietnam Tech in the News

Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI fund, leads $7M investment in English learning app ELSA. The deal is Gradient’s first in Asia. TechCrunch. 2/26

P2P lender Validus eyes Indonesia, Vietnam after $15M funding. Validus focuses exclusively on linking accredited and institutional investors – including fund managers, family offices, and corporates – to SMBs. Tech in Asia. 2/26

9 startups aiming for the crown at Vietnam TOP100. AI-enabled regulatory assistant, insurance CRM platform, and medicine B2B platform to name a few. e27. 2/22




Vietnam Tech: Going Global Blockchain + Crypto, 3/7, HCMC

A conversation with tech leaders representing VC investors, blockchain/crypto companies, and platforms. Organized by Global South Tech, with panelists from 500VN and WisePass. Event Page

WISE Women Innovation Acceleration 2019 Launch, 3/8, Hanoi

Panelists include Canadian Ambassador to Vietnam Deborah Paul, Axel Schultze and Marita Schultze of World Innovations Forum, and WISE Acceleration alumni. Event Page

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

Thao Nguyen of 500VN will be judging TOP100 2019 qualifiers from Vietnam. Hosted by e27, in anticipation of Echelon Asia Summit in May. Event Page

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