From Silicon Valley To Saigon
by 500 Startups and GS SHOP
The Saola Accelerator, named after the rare Vietnamese deer also known as the “Asian unicorn”, aims to support three batches of Vietnam-connected startups with US$100K investment in each company plus programmatic support.
500 Startups’ flagship accelerator has been named a Top 3 accelerator in the U.S. by notable publications including Forbes and Entrepreneur. 500 Startups has also been running growth programs in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. The Saola Accelerator is 500’s latest step in its mission to back talented entrepreneurs all over the world, help them build companies at scale, and develop thriving ecosystems around the world.
what to expect
Beyond providing capital, the program will include the signature Growth Hell Week plus hands-on support for growth. During GHW, founders aren’t just going to “learn some marketing stuff” – they’re
what we offer
Saola’s $100K investment will be the largest of any accelerator in Vietnam. GS Shop also plans to match 500 Startups Vietnam’s investment in select batch companies, bringing the potential investment per company to up to US$200K.
$500K in perks
Each participating company will have access to over $500K worth of free perks from 500’s partners including Amazon Web Services, Google, and Microsoft.
We’ve learned a lot from working with 1,000 companies in more than 40 growth program batches around the world. We’re excited to bring that experience to Vietnam.
Who should apply
Tech or tech-enabled startups
Have meaningful traction
* Serving the Vietnam market, having a Vietnamese co-founder, and/or having a meaningful portion of the team in Vietnam
Batch 1 begins
in May 2019
Other than money, what can I get out of the program?
Mentorship: One of the biggest benefits of going through the 500 Startups accelerator program is having access to knowledgeable mentors. You will have access to the 500 team, seasoned entrepreneurs, experienced investors, and individuals with considerable expertise in their field to give feedback and offer guidance. We also host numerous talks and fireside chats. Speakers include top domain experts on important topics such as strategy, product, marketing, sales, business development, fundraising, and international expansion.
Growth and Distribution Support: We have distribution experts that will help you GROW, GROW, GROW. Whether it’s trigger emails, event-based analytics, SEO, paid ads, or creative growth tactics, we’ll help you get your business to where it needs to be. We’ll host numerous workshops and talks with top domain experts. But it’s not all lectures and theory — you will be executing growth experiments, and we will be there to help you prioritize, track, and execute them better.
Fundraising: Our staff is made up of experts with years of experience in fundraising and pitching. Through Saola, you will learn how to set appropriate fundraising strategy and terms, how to craft a compelling story for your startup, how to identify the right investors and manage your relationships with them, etc.
Access to the 500 Global Network: 500 Startups is the most active global investor by VC deal count in 2018, according to PitchBook. We have invested in 2,200+ startups in 74 countries. The 500 Startups family consists of 5,000 company founders and over 200 mentors. They come from diverse backgrounds, areas of expertise, and markets. You’ll have opportunities to connect with those and a growing list of engineers, designers, and marketers from all around the world.
Branding and PR: The 500 brand draws an impressive group of people, ranging from investors, strategic corporates, platform partners, press, and even the occasional celebrity. In addition, we run events and conferences throughout the year that are consistently sold out. All of this means great exposure and visibility for your company.
Where is it?
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Which team members should be in the program?
Normally each startup will send the founder or co-founders, together with the head of growth and/or other main decision makers.
Can I/we do it part-time?
Requirements for time commitment vary from week to week, but in general, we encourage the team to participate full-time to get the most out of Saola. The program is an intense experience — most events are not recorded or live-streamed, and besides scheduled activities, there could be unannounced mentor drop-ins and impromptu networking opportunities that you might miss out if you’re not present. That said, once you’re accepted, we’ll share our agenda in advance so you could arrange your schedule accordingly. Rest assured that we’ll give you and your team time to implement what you’ve learned.
Should the application be in English or Vietnamese?
Preferably English, but Vietnamese is also acceptable.
Should I apply again if I am rejected?
Yes, definitely! There is no downside to applying more than once. Many of our most successful founders were not accepted on their first try, but chose to keep making progress on their business, reapply to the next batch, and were ultimately accepted.
What are your selection criteria?
Our criteria for Saola are the same as those for the fund. You can take a look at our general FAQs to see how we invest.
I don’t have a product yet. Can I still apply to Saola?
No. Saola will work with companies whose products are launched and have demonstrated some meaningful traction. Saola is engineered to grow companies that are ready to scale. However, you can apply for a simple investment from 500 Startups Vietnam here.
I’ve filled in the application form and sent over the pitch deck. Now what?
We receive hundreds of applications for each batch and we review each one individually. We try to respond to everyone, but it could take up to a few weeks to get a response. If there’s interest, our investment team will reach out to you to learn more about your startup.
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