Dear all,

Last month, 500 Startups held our global Annual General Meeting in San Francisco, where we were pleased to officially announce the addition of Tony Wang to the executive team as a managing partner. A veteran of Google (former managing counsel, international) and Twitter (VP, global partnerships and development), Tony was inspired to join 500 Startups in part due to our mission to extend opportunity all around the world. In a Medium post, he observed:

“For the first time in history, more VC dollars are being deployed outside the U.S. and there are more unicorns being created outside the U.S. This next stage of venture capital going global happens to pass through where 500 is strongest.”

Indeed, 500 has now invested in more than 2,300 companies in 74 countries around the world, and several of our earlier international investments have become unicorns. We’re excited to have Tony with us for the next stage of growth.

The work is not merely limited to investment though. In the past few weeks, 500 has announced a number of new initiatives, including a partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to launch an impact accelerator in Indonesia (read more: e27) and a partnership with Enterprise Singapore to help Singapore startups expand to the U.S. and U.S. startups to expand to Asia via Singapore (read more: Business Times).

We’ve got our own exciting news to share soon. Until then, please enjoy the latest on Vietnam and our tech scene below.

Until next month,

Team 500 Startups Vietnam

500 Startups Vietnam in the News

500 Startups and other VCs shared bullish view on Vietnam as the region’s next growth market. ‘If you want to start your company in a safe and dynamic country that loves foreigners and has a large concentration of affordable engineering talent, Vietnam is hard to beat,’ Binh Tran said. Kr-Asia, TechinAsia, CafeF. 9/11

Following the Saola Accelerator’s inaugural Demo Day, Eddie Thai shared with VTC10 on 500’s vision and strategy in Vietnam, and shed light on Saola Accelerator’s second batch. VTC10. 9/9

500-backed NextSmarty shared about its AI recommendation technology that helps boosting e-commerce sales by 50%. Kr-Asia. 9/25 

Binh Tran spoke at the first International Techfest Vietnam in the USA, organized by Vietnam’s Ministry of Science and Technology. Binh emphasized that ‘Government support plays a very important role in the development of Vietnam startup ecosystem. This is one of the many initiatives to help the ecosystem continue to grow. We at 500 Startups are here to support’. VietnamNow (Vietnamese). 9/13

Vietnam in the News

Vietnam’s economy expanded 7.3% in the third quarter, reaching its highest level in nine years… Despite uncertain global economic environment, Vietnam’s economic growth accelerated in the third quarter, underpinned by solid growth in exports and manufacturing. Vietnamnet. 10/4 

…During the same period, Vietnam’s trade surplus reached a record high at $7.1 billion. Vietnam’s trade turnover in Q3 stood at $139 billion, up 9% year-on-year and significantly higher than $116 billion recorded in Q1 and $127 billion in Q2. The US remained Vietnam’s largest export market. The Hanoi Times. 10/5 

State Bank of Vietnam cut interest rates in an effort to support businesses and bolster the economy as global risks rise. The benchmark refinance rate was lowered to 6% from 6.25%. The discount rate and overnight lending rate in the inter-bank market would be lowered by the same magnitude to 4% and 7% respectively. Bloomberg. 9/13

Insurance market heats up. The vibrant outlook is driven by announcements of various deals, namely: $400 million acquisition of Vietcombank Cardif Life Insurance by FWD, $2.5 billion divestment of Britain’s Aviva, a partnership between Manulife Vietnam with Asia Commercial Bank (ACB), and Prudential Vietnam Assurance with Shinhan Bank. Vietnam Investment Review. 9/28

Two Vietnamese CEOs named as top Asian ‘Power Businesswomen’ by Forbes. The chief executive officers of budget carrier Vietjet, Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, and dairy firm NutiFood, Tran Thi Le, was named among the 25 most powerful businesswomen in Asia, honouring their significant role in shaping Asia’s business landscape. Forbes. 9/23 

NYT: As Formula One expands, Vietnam becomes a new destination. The addition of a grand prix in Vietnam in April 2020 will be especially significant because it will be the first race added under the sport’s new owner, Liberty Media Corporation. The New York Times. 9/6

Vietnam’s IPO market dries up with no new listings in 2019. Factors such as a tumbling stock market coupled with better alternatives to capital supply have kept companies away from floating their public issues in 2019. Nikkei Asian Review. 10/4

Companies have been moving to raising capital with bonds over stocks as trade tensions triggered stock market volatility. Bloomberg. 9/4

Vietnam Tech in the News

 Vietnam emerges as most digital of all ASEAN economies as measured by gross merchandise value (GMV) as a % of GDP, according to Google and Temasek. Vietnamnet. 10/4

Vietnam jumped from fifth to third in the list of most active startup ecosystems in ASEAN. The move is underpinned by six-fold growth in amount of invested capital and numbers of technology deals done in the country in the 2017-2019 period, according to a report by Cento Ventures and ESP Capital. Vietnam Plus. 9/5

Vietnamese internet company VCCorp launches a social network, Lotus. Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung expects that Lotus will become an inspiration for other Vietnamese tech companies to create more made-in-Vietnam technology products. Tuoi Tre News. 9/17

InnoVen Capital closes two maiden financings in Vietnam, marking the first venture-debt transactions recorded in the country. The Southeast Asia- and India-focused venture debt firm has thereby provided loan to e-commerce firm Tiki and shared workplace UP Co-working. DealStreetAsia. 9/13

VinGroup’s VinTech Fund invests $3.7 million in 12 applied science projects. These projects will be applied for pilot to Vingroup’s multidisciplinary ecosystem before being commercialized. VNExpress. 9/23

Vietnamese proptech startup Rever raises $2.3 million from GEC-KIP Fund. The proptech company plans to open 30 additional large experience centres within the next 18 months to better serve its clients and start expanding beyond Ho Chi Minh City. e27. 9/5

VinaCapital Ventures leads investment in Vietnamese social commerce platform Ecomobi. The investment was joined by South Korea-based GSShop, Naver Group, and LINE Ventures. Vietnam Economic Times. 9/5


Demo Day – WISE Women Accelerator 2019, HCMC, 10/30. Launched in March 2019, WISE Accelerator 2019 aims to accelerate technology-related women-led startups in Vietnam. Saola Accelerator Manager Hau Ly will join the judging panel of the Demo Day. Event.

Architectures of Highly Scalable AI Systems, HCMC, 10/17. Herve Roussel, Founder of 500 Startups-backed Quod AI will share about building the scalable AI system. Herve is an ex Silicon Valley CTO with 10+ years of experience, an advisor and mentor for organizations such as IBM AI XPRIZE, PlatoHQ (YC’16), RMIT, AngelHack and more. Event.

WHISE – Week for HCMC Innovation, Startup and Entrepreneurship, HCMC, 10/18-19. The event is co-organized by the Department of Science and Technology and Youth Union HCMC and chaired by the People’s Committee HCM and Embassy of Finland. Event.

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