Lion dancing during Mid-Autumn Festival in the Old Quarter, Hanoi. Photo by dan.toan on Instagram.

It was a Russian doll of exits this past month, as Vietnam’s Foody was acquiredby Singapore-based Sea, which in turn IPO’d on NASDAQ.

Vietnam moved up again in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness rankings, marking a 20-place climb in the past 5 years.  The Vietnamese government has been trying to protect/strengthen competitiveness as the economy shifts from lower income to middle income status (per the World Bank).  In the past 1-2 months, the government has: suspended proposed new tax hikes; reduced >50% of various business license restrictions/conditions; set a target to have 1 million effective SMEs/startups by 2020; and opened up online applications for foreign work permits.  See article links below.

However, challenges remain and the government faces a balancing act on many matters. For example, the tax hikes had originally been proposed by the Ministry of Finance to keep Vietnam’s government debt under control.  Most starkly, as our friends at VinaCapital highlighted at their annual investor conference this week, the local banking system continues to be burdened by NPLs: of the $12B in NPLs that have been transferred to the VAMC, only 20% have been resolved so far.

We’re keeping an eye on these themes as well as other regulatory changes under consideration such as: a reduction of the capital gains tax (positive); a payments processing law (negative); and a venture capital law (implications as yet unclear).

Team 500 Startups Vietnam


Vietnam In The News


  • Vietnam’s government steps in to suspend sweeping new tax hikes.The government fears that the tax raise proposed by the Ministry of Finance can devastate efforts to achieve the 6.7% economic growth target in 2017. VNExpress. 9/12
  • Vietnam aims to become startup destination in APEC. The government has set a target of having one million effective enterprises by 2020 with increasing efforts in creating favorable policies to support startups. Vietnamnet. 9/16
  • MoIT cuts 675 business and investment conditions. The Ministry of Industry and Trade slashes a historic 55.5% of current business and investment conditions across 27 sectors to stimulate economic growth. VoV. 9/23
  • Here’s Where The Money Is Going As Wealth Rises In Vietnam. As spending power goes up, what are the Vietnamese people spending money on? Forbes. 9/20
  • Vietnam’s government debt jumps 80% in four years. “The government debt in 2015 was more than twice the country’s budget income… Meanwhile, economic growth targets are not being met.” VnExpress. 9/22


500 Startups Demo Day Batch 22
Oct 25, 2017 at Terra Gallery, San Francisco
36 startups in FinTech, Data, Health, and more will pitch to investors on Oct. 25. Join 500 Startups latest Batch 22 for #DemoDay in San Francisco!  Learn more here.


Vietnam Tech in the News


  • Can Vietnam become a global tech hub? Our partner, Eddie Thai, discusses opportunities and challenges of the local startup scene. Forbes India. 9/11
  • Sea Ltd is said to acquire 82% of Vietnam’s Foody for $64M. With this acquisition, Vietnamese restaurant booking and food delivery startup Foody “has become one of the biggest success stories in the Vietnamese startup space”. Deal Street Asia. 9/26
  • Cocoon Capital, 500 Startups lead funding in Vietnamese platform Hiip. One of our latest bets is on Hiip, Vietnam’s first automated, data-driven influencer marketing platform. e27. 9/14
  • Saigoneer, an English-language online content platform in Vietnam, raises funding from 500 Startups, VIISA. “Saigoneer is an online platform to showcase the nation’s cultural charm and social dynamism, and offers info under various categories.” e27. 10/23
  • Saigon slams the brakes on Uber, Grab expansion plans. Authorities in HCM City have instructed ride-hailing firms Uber and Grab to delay any plans they have of expanding their fleets “to better manage the number of cabs operating in the city to prevent further gridlock.” VnExpress. 9/22
  • Vietnam: Fund launched to help commercialise ideas by scientists.Ho Chi Minh-based non-profit fund Startup Vietnam Foundation has partnered with Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology to support local scientist financially and operationally. Deal Street Asia. 9/27


500 Startups + INSEAD: VC Unlocked Asia
Nov 6-10, 2017 at the INSEAD Asia Campus in Singapore

Join us at the next session where INSEAD faculty and 500 Startups partners will lead current and aspiring investors through a comparison of the startup investing landscape across different countries in Asia. Spots are limited. Apply now here.

PreMoney SF 2017 Conference
Dec 5, 2017 at the InterContinental San Francisco Hotel

PreMoney is a one-day conference, produced by 500 Startups, about the most disruptive strategies, models & technologies for the future of venture capital. Featuring the world’s most forward-thinking investors, PreMoney will provide attendees with insight and tactics for building successful, scalable venture portfolios that are just as innovative as the companies they finance. Register here for limited early tickets.


Upcoming Events


Slush GIA 2017 in Vietnam – From Mekong to the world, October 27, HCMC
Slush Global Impact Accelerator (GIA) is a program created in collaboration with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and other multiple partners globally to support impact startups and showcase the exciting business opportunities in emerging markets. 
Event Page


Hatch! Fair the Fifth, September 23 – October 27, Hanoi, Danang, HCMC
Bringing up untold stories from not only ecosystem builders but also startups and investors in a national and international scale throughout a trip from the North to the South, starting from Hanoi, to Danang, then HCMC. 
Event Page


Win a $1,000 cash prize and a trip to Sweden

Lund University Internet Institute (LUii) in collaboration with Embassy of Sweden in Vietnam, and the Vietnam Programme for Internet and Society will honor one enterprise or individual from Vietnam for their work in social innovation in a digital context. Read more about the award here.

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