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September 2019 Newsletter

September 2019 Newsletter

Chào mọi người,

Last week we unveiled the first batch of graduates of our Silicon Valley-inspired, Saigon-based accelerator, Saola. Founders took the stage to an audience of more than 200 investors, entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and other ecosystem partners.

Saola Batch 1 companies in A-Z order:

+ Axie Infinity – a digital pet game on the blockchain with a die-hard community, $2.5M in game item sales and marketplace transactions, and the backing of leading blockchain investors like Hashed and Consensus


+ Dibee – a digital payment solution for corporate auto fleets that counts marquee names like DHL, Avis, and DB Schenker among its clients and boasts a 100% client retention rate


+ NextSmarty – an AI recommendation engine to convert website visitors into customers with former CMO and COO of Microsoft Vietnam as incoming CEO and backers like Tina Ju, managing partner of Kleiner Perkins China


+ Papaya – an employee healthcare & wellness benefits platform for corporations in Vietnam and beyond, which has already partnered with a top insurance provider and an insurance broker


+ Quod AI – an AI platform that helps software engineers be more productive by explaining source code in plain English, developed by a 3X CTO and a mathematical physicist who previously developed AI models for NASA


+ Schola – a 1-to-1 online English learning platform for non-native children founded by Facebook and Garena alums and seeing a 70% course completion rate


In addition to these companies, our Demo Day hosted rising stars from 500’s portfolio across the region, including Beam (a micromobility company seeing 30% week-on-week growth and backed by Sequoia, Founders Fund, and Zhen Fund), Finaxar (providing SMEs working capital in as little as 24 hours), Jala (a shrimp IoT and data management solution serving customers in 4 of the world’s top 5 shrimp-producing countries), Portier (the “No Download” travel assistant that has seen +300% ARR in 4 months), and a fifth undisclosed company.


We’re proud of all of the founders, and grateful to folks who came out and supported them.

Batch 2 of our Saola Accelerator Program is open for applications. It’s still ~4 months from starting, but we’ve already filled 3 of the 10 spots. Are you a founder ready for growth? Or do you know one? Check out bit.ly/500apply now!


A short video about Saola Accelerator: 


Hẹn bạn tháng sau,

Team 500 Startups Vietnam




500 Startups Vietnam in the News


Regional investors and entrepreneurs converge in Vietnam for a Southeast Asia showcase by 500 Startups. Eleven “rising star” startups pitched their ideas to a room of more than 200 investors and entrepreneurs as part of the 500 Startups Demo Day to highlight the promising startup ecosystem in Vietnam and broader Southeast Asia. Vietnam Economic Times, Vietnam News, CafeBiz, Vietnam Insider. 9/6

500 Startups sees healthy early-stage pipeline in Vietnam. “As long as there are smart entrepreneurial people, and many challenges to solve in Vietnam as well as other markets in the region, we should be able to keep investing at a healthy pace,” Eddie told DealStreetAsia. DealStreetAsia. 9/8

500 Startups sees the biggest potential for Vietnamese startups lie in developing technology solutions that solve emerging-market problems. Eddie expects disruption, but also evolution, in sectors that include financial services, education and training, transportation and logistics and small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) productivity. The Business Times. 8/7

Saola Accelerator growth expert Mike Villar wants to put the romance back into advertising. “Relationships escalate one step at a time. Selling without a story is like asking someone to marry you on a first date,” he told a dozen Saola founders. Jumpstartmag. 8/5



Vietnam in the news


Vietnam investors shrug off U.S. trade risk for growth. Robust economic growth and the government’s planned sale of stakes in state-controlled companies will offset dips in equity prices triggered by trade frictions. Bloomberg. 8/16

Women-led businesses on the rise in Vietnam. A recent Grant Thornton’s report titled ‘Women in Business 2019,’ revealed that women hold 36 percent of senior management positions in Vietnamese businesses, ranking second highest in the region after the Philippines’ 37.5 percent. The ASEAN Post. 8/28

Vietnam announced revised plans to privatize state-owned companies. 93 companies including Mobifone, Agribank, and VN Post are slated for partial or complete privatization by the end of 2020. Bloomberg. 8/16

PE investors scout for deals in Vietnam’s renewable energy sector. Renewable energy emerged as one of the most preferred sectors for investments in the country in 2019 as it took the third slot after fintech and education. Nikkei Asian Review. 8/26

Airlines boom as travellers opt to fly over overloaded infrastructure. Even as airports are getting degraded and cramped, more and more new players like Vietravel Airlines, Vinpearl Air, and KiteAir are entering the aviation market. Vietnam Investment Review. 8/30


Vietnam tech in the news


Vietnam’s e-commerce player Tiki acquires 500 Startups portfolio company Ticketbox. The acquisition is part of Tiki’s aim to become an ‘all-in-one’ e-commerce platform. DealstreetAsia. 8/20

Google to shift Pixel smartphone production from China to Vietnam. The push reflects the twin pressures of higher Chinese labor costs and the spiraling tariffs resulting from the trade war between Washington and Beijing. The U.S. internet giant intends to eventually move production of most of its American-bound hardware outside of China. Nikkei Asian Review. 8/28

Vietnam says Facebook steps up local content restrictions. “Facebook now meets 70 to 75% of the Vietnamese government’s requests, compared to around 30% earlier,” information minister Nguyen Manh Hung said at a parliament meeting in Hanoi. Reuters. 8/16

Singapore hotel booking platform RedDoorz raises $70 million to build Vietnam tech hub. The company will use the funds to build its second technology hub in Vietnam besides expanding to new markets, investing in technology and user experience, and boost hotel staff training. VnExpress. 8/27

Vietnamese POS startup KiotViet gets $6 million from Jungle Ventures and Traveloka. Established in 2014 as a cloud-based POS system, KiotViet now provides omnichannel business and management software solutions catered to microbusinesses and small and medium-sized enterprises. TechinAsia. 8/15

Vietnam prefers its mobile networks to be free of Huawei. Vietnam’s smaller carriers appear to be shying away from Huawei, as well. MobiFone Corp. is using Samsung Electronics Co. equipment while Vietnam Telecom Services Company, or Vinaphone, entered into a partnership with Nokia to deploy its 5G network, according to local media. Bloomberg. 8/26

Vietnam’s new social app Lotus aims to raise $52 million to take on Facebook. VCCorp has ultimately chosen Lotus as the brand name for this latest social app, which is expected to make a soft launch next month. DealstreetAsia. 8/25

Ride-hailing giant Grab to invest $500 million in Vietnam over the next 5 years. The company will expand its transport, food and payments networks in the country. CNBC. 8/27




Seedstars Ho Chi Minh City 2019, HCMC, 9/19

Seedstars World promotes, connects and invests in emerging market startups through its exclusive startup competition in over 50 countries. The winning startup at Seedstars Ho Chi Minh City 2019 will get a free trip to the Seedstars Regional Summit. Event.

Thành phố San Francisco
Tầng 6, 814 Mission,
San Francisco, CA 94103, USA

© 2010-2019 500 Startups

August 2019 Newsletter

August 2019 Newsletter

Chào mọi người,

Normally our introductory statement synthesizes recent developments in Vietnam or the region. But, as you can see from the photo above, the team has been having a lot of fun over the past several weeks, so we thought we’d share a bit about why below.

The first batch of the Saola Accelerator is in full swing, with July the first full month of the program. The program has brought in an all-star cast of experts to work with the startup founders, via ~100 training sessions, workshops, and mentoring sessions so far. The experts themselves collectively have been founders or other leaders of 22 startups (of which 11 have exited), invested in 100+ startups, worked for companies including Google, IDEO, Samsung, and Cisco, and studied at schools like Harvard, Stanford, and Oxford.

Batch founders seem to appreciate the support from these experts who have “done it” before. “Good framework and mindset.” “The topics were very relevant and deep.” “The engagement was fantastic.” “Amazing”. “Very practical. So we’re excited to announce that we’re looking for talented founders to join Batch 2 of our program. Want help building an impactful company at scale? Apply now tại đây.!

Of course, 500 Startups has been committed not only to backing our great founders but also to supporting the development of the Vietnam startup ecosystem at large. As part of that, in July we hosted a public event featuring 500 Startups Partner and Saola Program Director Saalim Chowdhury, who talked about how to build a great growth machine.  120 startup founders, executives, and growth enthusiasts attended and many others viewed the video during / afterwards. On the other side of the world, in San Francisco, 500 Startups HQ hosted an ASEAN Tech Summit, featuring Binh and a dozen other speakers who shared about the region’s opportunities and challenges.

In the midst of all of that, we closed investments into startups #45 (a retail enabler) and #46 (a medtech startup), which meant that we’ve kept up a pace of 2 new startups invested per all-but-one-month since February 2019. So perhaps it should be unsurprising that we observed an overarching thread across the development of Vietnam, its startup ecosystem, and our team: there’s still a lot of work to be done, but we’ve come so far already.

To gear up for the next phase, we are hiring a few final missing pieces to the team, especially one more Chuyên viên đầu tư and one Communications Specialist. If you’d like to expand your perspectives and your network, plug into the global tech & innovation scene, get an insider’s look at Vietnam’s startup ecosystem, and work with ‘phở-nomenal’ people around the world, apply NOW!


Hẹn bạn tháng sau,

Team 500 Startups Vietnam


Vietnam in the news


Venture capital piles into Vietnamese technology companies. Vietnamese companies in sectors ranging from trucking to fintech and facial recognition are attracting a record wave of venture capital money, drawn in by the digital transformation and growing wealth of one of Asia’s youngest and fastest growing economies. Financial Times. 7/24

Your next iPhone might be made in Vietnam. Thank the Trade War… Samsung already assembled half of its handsets in Vietnam, which got a big lift from U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods, and now Apple is homing in.  The New York Times. 7/30

…But Vietnam is now in trouble itself. Thank the Trade War. The country is benefiting so much from the impasse that it’s at risk of being hit with punitive American duties. Bloomberg. 8/6

Good short-term effects for Vietnam after Fed’s rate cut. The US Federal Reserve’s latest rate cut will benefit commodity and equity markets in the short term. The rate cut would increase the value of investment into equity and commodity assets as the US dollar was weakened, encouraging international investors to purchase more local assets. Vietnam Plus. 8/4

As Vietnam’s economy booms, more luxury buyers emerge. Wealthy Vietnamese are looking in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and as far away as Europe and the U.S. Mansion Global. 8/4


Vietnam tech in the news


Vietnamese minister calls for local tech firms to challenge Google and Facebook. Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung said that Vietnam needs to build its own digital ecosystem where made-in-Vietnam social media networks and search engines can compete with Facebook and Google. KR Asia. 7/16

Enterprise Singapore supports access to Vietnam tech ecosystem with GIA expansion. Enterprise Singapore, Singapore’s government-owned enterprise development agency, is expanding the Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to facilitate collaborations between the two startup ecosystems. E27. 7/22

SoftBank Vision Fund and Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC complete $300M investment into the parent company of digital payment player VNPAY. Deal Street Asia. 7/25

Vietnam tech company NextTech pledges US$10M fund for early-stage startups. E27. 7/31



Hanoi Innovation Summit, Hanoi, 8/29

Binh Tran, General Partner of 500 Startups Vietnam, will be talking at Hanoi Innovation Summit.   The summit brings together executives, VC, startups  and community leaders from all over the world to discuss innovation for inclusion and sustainability in emerging economies. Event

Vietnam Startups Day, HCMC, 8/23

Organized by the Ministry of Science and Technology and Business Startup Support Center, the two-day event includes startup exhibitions, keynotes, panel discussions, and hosts the final stage for Vietnam Startup Wheel competition. Event

Thành phố San Francisco
Tầng 6, 814 Mission,
San Francisco, CA 94103, USA

© 2010-2019 500 Startups

July 2019 Newsletter

July 2019 Newsletter

Chào mọi người,

The inaugural batch of our SF-inspired, Saigon-based accelerator program kicked off last month. Here’s a quick look at the first two weeks by the numbers:

  • 25 participating founders & senior team members of 6 nationalities
  • 50% of the teams have female participants
  • 24 lectures and workshops

Topics ranged from “growth mindset” and narratives to analytics and experimentation. The teams are now hard at work putting their lessons into action, supported by regular office hours with our London-based program director and the 500VN team.

As part of our mission to support the broader Vietnam startup ecosystem, our program director will be having a public talk on “Secrets to a Great Growth Funnel” in HCMC on July 24. Scroll down to find out more!

Additionally, in June, 500VN closed investments into startups #43 (developer tool) and #44 (fintech). And at the end of the month we joined our international colleagues at our annual global team offsite, this year in Thailand, where we celebrated another sister fund’s oversubscribed final close (our firm’s 3rd oversubscribed final close in the past 9 months) as well as the firm’s milestone of >$500M in committed capital globally.

All in all, a good first half of 2019. On to the second half!


Hẹn bạn tháng sau,

Team 500 Startups Vietnam

Saola Sighting

We’re pleased to introduce Saalim Chowdhury, Saola’s director and mentor extraordinaire. Saalim is a partner at 500 Startups who specialises in advising on growth strategies and running global founder programs, sharing his experience having been a successful founder himself. He’s led and architected 500’s flagship global programs for startups as well as working with 500’s strategic and limited partners to develop startup-like transformation in their organisations. In the past 4 years he’s worked hands-on with over 250 startups from 25 countries across 4 continents, and keynoted at major conferences including Web Summit and Slush.

A startup veteran, notable exits he’s been part of include Internet Security firm ScanSafe to Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) for $183M and Machine-Learning Talent Platform Skillbridge to Toptal (An A16z Unicorn). Outside of entrepreneurship he’s held, he has also held senior leadership positions at News Corporation (NYSE:NWS) and Trinity Mirror Group (LON:TNI). His career started at the Boston Consulting Group. He was educated at Oxford, Cambridge and the London School of Economics.

 Inside a workshop on pitching

To meet with Saalim, sign up for his talk on July 24 in Ho Chi Minh City (“Secrets to a great growth funnel”). For more saola sightings in Saigon, follow us on Facebook và LinkedIn. Stay tuned for more saola (“Asian unicorn”) sighting.


500 Startups Vietnam in the News

Stably’s StableUSD becomes the first stablecoin listed on Binance DEX. A new era of liquidity on the decentralized exchange. Coinspeaker. 6/24

Leflair among the next big things coming out of frontier markets. Founded in December 2015, Leflair follows the flash-sales model that has proven successful in Europe. In total the company has raised $12M. e27. 6/25

Forbes recommends Copper Cow Coffee for a more thoughtful cup of coffee. It comes with condensed milk to transport you to a hot, humid afternoon on the streets of Hanoi. Forbes. 6/29

while Refinery29 thinks their Rose Latte Pour Over might be this summer’s biggest coffee trend. Refinery29. 6/20 

VCs commit $425M for investments in Vietnamese startups over the next 3 years. Investors who are looking to invest more in the burgeoning startup ecosystem in Vietnam include 500 Startups, Golden Gate Ventures, Access Ventures, Burda Principal Investments, Jungle Ventures, Cyberagent Ventures, among others. DealStreetAsia. 6/10

Vietnam in the news

Vietnam, EU sign free trade agreement. Once the deal takes effect, the EU will lift 85% of its tariffs on Vietnamese goods. Vietnam is the EU’s second-largest trading partner in Southeast Asia, with trade turnover of $56B last year. Washington Post. 6/30 

Vietnam economy grows nearly 7% on trade war tailwinds. Haiphong, a major shipping hub near the Chinese border, logged a 16% jump in real GDP last year. Nikkei Asian Review. 6/29

Vietnam buys more US goods after Trump calls the country trade abuser. Vietnam’s trade surplus with the US reached $39.5B last year, the highest in records going back to 1990. Vietnam’s trade ministry will sign an MOU with the U.S. Energy Department that includes buying “large volumes” of liquefied natural gas from the US. Bloomberg. 6/29

Made in Vietnam: US-China tensions spark a manufacturing shift but not without growing pains. Plus an inside look into the manufacturing process behind products like Adidas and Nike produced in Vietnam (video). CNBC. 6/25

Vietnam and India see explosion in direct investment from China as tech suppliers shift production overseas, says Goldman Sachs. Vietnam’s FDI from China jumped 4.6x year on year to reach US$1.56B during the first 5 months of 2019. SCMP. 6/24

Vietnam gets tougher on YouTube as citizens see anti-government content…Google has tried to shut down about 8,000 videos as ordered. “They care a lot about the Hong Kong situation, because they wonder whether the matter in Hong Kong could happen in the future in Vietnam,” said Tai Wan-ping, Southeast Asia-specialized international business professor. Voice of America. 6/28

…and authorities said they have identified at least 100 brands whose ads were shown alongside law-violating clips to Vietnamese viewers, including ads from Grab, Shopee, and Huawei. The YouTube crackdown is part of the country’s broader efforts to regulate global tech companies to minimize tax losses in digital cross-border transactions. KrAsia. 6/25


Vietnam tech in the news

E-commerce major Tiki set to raise over $100M. The round could reach $150M with the backing of the firm’s existing Korean investors. The latest financing for Tiki follows a $44M investment led by JD.com. Nikkei Asian Review. 6/21

Online real estate platform Rever raises $4M from VinaCapital. Rever offers price preference tools using real market data analytics. The company will add loan brokerage, digital furniture fitting and smart-home solutions, to become a one-stop shop for all accommodation-related needs. DealStreetAsia. 6/12

Oyo launches in Vietnam, commits $50M investment. The SoftBank-backed hotel chain aims to have 20,000 rooms in 10 cities in Vietnam by the end of 2020. KrAsia. 7/2

Vietnam’s mPOS and e-wallet VIMO merge, herald consolidation for Vietnam’s fragmented digital payments market. There were 29 licensed non-bank payment intermediary services in Vietnam as of February, with around 20 of these services offering e-wallets. More than 40 banks also provide mobile payment services. Nikkei Asian Review. 6/17

Abivin taps AI to ease logistics headaches. Logistic costs account for 15-20% of Vietnam’s GDP. After winning the $1M top prize at the 2019 Startup World Cup in Silicon Valley, Abivin is eyeing expansion to new markets including Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. Nikkei Asian Review. 6/20




Secrets to a Great Growth Funnel, HCMC, 7/24

Saalim Chowdhury, partner at 500 Startups and director of the Saola Accelerator program, will be talking about the secrets to a great growth funnel. Come to understand the elements of a growth mindset, and network with the Saola batch companies at the event co-hosted by 500 Startups Vietnam and Kafnu. Event

Vietnam Deep Tech Ecosystem Meetup, 7/18, HCMC

Network with representatives from SGInnovate and YellowBlocks, together with other Vietnam ecosystem stakeholders in deep tech. Event

Thành phố San Francisco
Tầng 6, 814 Mission,
San Francisco, CA 94103, USA

© 2010-2019 500 Startups

June 2019 Newsletter

Bản tin tháng 6/2019

Chào mọi người,

Tháng 5, Việt Nam chào đón các đại diện từ Liên minh Đổi mới Phát triển Quốc tế (IDIA), một nỗ lực thúc đẩy phát triển bền vững qua sự hợp tác giữa các tổ chức quốc tế hàng đầu (World Bank, UNDP, UNICEF), các quỹ cứu trợ (USAID, UKAID, Australian AID), cũng như các tổ chức Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, etc.

Tại đó đã diễn ra nhiều bài thuyết trình và workshop, cũng như phần đối thoại mở rộng, trong đó nhiều nhân vật được mời chia sẻ suy nghĩ và ý tưởng về hệ sinh thái Việt Nam với Thủ tướng Chính phủ Nguyễn Xuân Phúc và các đại diện chính phủ khác. Eddie hân hạnh được chia sẻ một số suy nghĩ. Một số trích đoạn:

“Tôi từ lâu đã tin tưởng rằng nguồn tài năng công nghệ cao, giá lao động thấp của đất nướctrong đó rất nhiều người thấu hiểu sự khó khăn của người nghèo tại các thị trường mới nổicho Việt Nam cơ hội không chỉ trở thành một trong những “quốc gia khởi nghiệp”, mà còn là trung tâm đổi mới với tầm ảnh hưởng cao cho những quốc gia đang phát triển.

[...] Nhưng còn có rất nhiều việc cần phải làm. 500 Startups sẽ tiếp tục cố gắng ở khu vực tư nhân. Điều này quan trọng nhất là đầu tư và hỗ trợ những doanh nhân Việt tài năng, nhưng cũng bao gồm việc chia sẻ về những thử thách và cơ hội của Việt Nam với những nhà đầu tư khác, đào tạo và dẫn dắt các doanh nhân, cũng như hướng dẫn các nhà đầu tư. Đặc biệt, tôi muốn khẳng định rằng, mặc dù có rất nhiều cơ hội kiếm tiền bằng cách phục vụ tầng lớp giàu có của Việt Nam, một số cơ hội lớn nhất trong lĩnh vực công nghệ nằm ở việc phục vụ những người có điều kiện khó khăn nhất trong chúng ta.

Quả thực vậy: đầu tư qua ống kính tác động (impact investing) đã dẫn tới một số công ty có tiềm năng nhất trong danh mục đầu tư của chúng tôi. Trong đó có những startup đi ra từ Việt Nam như công ty fintech Trusting Social (được đầu tư bởi Sequoia) và công ty edtech ELSA (được đầu tư bởi Google), cũng có những công ty hướng tới thị trường Việt Nam như ApplyBoard, công ty vừa gọi vốn thành công 55 triệu đô la Canada qua Series B, và PayJoy, công ty vừa gọi vốn thành công 20 triệu đô la Mỹ qua Series B từ Greylock Partners.


Hẹn bạn tháng sau,

Team 500 Startups Vietnam



Saola Sighting


This month we’re thrilled to announce the launch of our Silicon Valley–inspired, Saigon-based accelerator program. It’s like a startup MBA on steroids, condensed into three months. Follow us on Facebook for frequent updates on the program and our Batch 1 companies, plus startup insights from our global experts.

The team has also moved into a new home: Kafnu Ho Chi Minh City will be the basecamp for our Saola Accelerator. A word from Chris Edwards, General Manager at Kafnu:

“Kafnu HCMC is delighted to be the venue sponsor for 500 Startups Saola Accelerator program. At Kafnu our mission is in developing our members through a vibrant community of like-minded individuals and we believe this aligns perfectly with 500 Startups. We look forward to welcoming the program members to Kafnu and being a part of their journey in becoming business successes.”

Image: Kafnu

Stay tuned for more saola (“Asian unicorn”) sighting.



500 Startups Vietnam in the News


Binh shares his thoughts in Nikkei Asian Review’s cover story “Southeast Asian ‘turtles’ return home to hatch tech startups”. “Folks are saying, ‘There’s something happening in Southeast Asia, there’s access to capital, there’s more talent in the region … maybe the timing is right for me to make a move.'” Nikkei Asian Review. 5/22

Eddie shares his observations about the Vietnam ecosystem with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and other government officials (Video, starting at 11:00.) VTV. 5/15

Other TV spotlights: Papaya Insurtech on insurance in the digital age (Vietnamese, VTV); Hiip on their regional expansion (Vietnamese, VTV); Leflair on making premium brands accessible to Vietnamese consumers (English, Vietcetera); and Eddie on his work and passion, with cameo appearances by Binh, Hau, founders, (more!) friends, and family (Vietnamese, VTC10).

ApplyBoard raises C$55M in Series B round. ApplyBoard launched as a result of the challenges the co-founders faced as Iranian students pursuing post-secondary education in North America. The proprietary platform uses AI and machine learning to assist students with program and institution selection, document submission, application, and obtaining a visa. PE Hub. 5/27

PayJoy raises $20M from Greylock, others. PayJoy enables consumers with no bank accounts or formal credit history to purchase smartphones on installment payments and get cash loans. Reuters. 5/23

Eddie talks with The Investor about 500’s mission in Vietnam. “500 Startups Vietnam has actually changed a lot in the ecosystem,” Eddie told The Investor, the business-focused site of The Korea Herald. “Prior to our entry, we saw that people weren’t all convinced by the opportunity and timing regarding Vietnam just yet. We had to spend a lot of time explaining about Vietnam, telling people what was happening, where we saw the market going and why it made us invest.” The Investor. 5/17




Other Vietnam Tech News


Vacation rental startup Luxstay bags $4.5M from South Korean retail firm GS Shop and early-stage venture capital firm Bon Angels. Deal Street Asia. 5/22

Vietnam doesn’t trust Huawei an inch. Viettel, a military-owned mobile network operator with ventures spanning from Myanmar to Haiti, is not only planning to deploy 5G. It is also developing its own core technology, vowing that 80% of the tech will be developed at home. Foreign Policy. 5.9

Vietnam’s tech futurists lay out economic alternatives. In a report by Australia’s national science agency, four scenarios offer a blueprint for policymakers. In the first option, the country reaches its full technological potential in the next two decades, with smart cities, high productivity, and high-skilled talent in an economy geared toward services. Voice of America. 5/18

Online travel startup Vntrip raises undisclosed amount in pre-Series C funding from Jubilee Capital Management. Vntrip also reports raising top-up funding from existing investor Hendale Capital, which initially invested $10M in 2017, following a $3M Series A round. Deal Street Asia. 5/27

Abivin wins $1M Grand Prize at the “Startup World Cup” event organized by Pegasus Tech Ventures. Abivin, a startup that provides AI-powered supply chain optimization, was the only representative from Southeast Asia. KrAsia. 5/20

Vietnam’s social selling platform Ecomobi won second prize at e27’s Echelon Asia Summit 2019. The platform evaluates millions of products to make personalized recommendations to key opinion leaders (KOLs), who in turn advertise the products on their social media channels. e27. 6/3



Vietnam in the News


Thich Nhat Hanh has come home. Long denied the right to return to his native Vietnam, the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh lived abroad for more than five decades, campaigning against war and teaching the practice of mindfulness. NYTimes. 5/16

SK Group makes $1B push into Vietnam with Vingroup investment. In addition to considering jointly running M&As, the two companies will work together as the next generation of high-speed 5G networks comes online. Nikkei Asian Review. 5/16

How can Vietnam avoid becoming China’s dirty industrial backyard? Critics argue Chinese projects exploit cheap labor and minerals, while polluting the environment and landing the locals in debt. SCMP. 5/9

Vietnam is among top 5 countries that watch YouTube the most. The other four are India, Japan, Indonesia and Thailand. Urbanist. 5/13

The rise of Vietnam’s second-tier cities. Receiving even more foreign investment than Da Nang in 2018 was Hai Phong. The city’s airport links international travelers to the UNESCO World Heritage site at Ha Long Bay. But beyond that it has been a key shipping hub, even more so as investors move out of China and seek alternative trading partners like Vietnam. Voice of America. 5/27




Vietnam Venture Summit, HCMC 6/12

Eddie will be speaking at the event by Golden Gate Ventures, alongside international investors, top-tier founders and other key ecosystem stakeholders. Event

AI & Scaling Up, HCMC, 6/6

Lace will be speaking on a panel about AI alongside representatives from WeWork, Haravan, Viet AI, and portfolio company ELSA. Event

Thành phố San Francisco
Tầng 6, 814 Mission,
San Francisco, CA 94103, USA

© 2010-2019 500 Startups

May 2019 Newsletter

May 2019 Newsletter

500 Vietnam happy hour at Anan Saigon. Photo: VTC10

Chào mọi người,

Mùa mưa Sài Gòn mới bắt đầu, đem lại suy ngẫm về những biến chuyển phức tạp của thành phố và đất nước này. Một bên là tin tức về sự tăng trưởng kinh tế của Việt Nam, bên kia lại là những kỷ niệm và trách cứ về xung đột quá khứ, cùng những hoài niệm về một thế giới đơn giản hơn. Giữa những ranh giới này là nhiều câu chuyện đi ngược với định kiến thông thường. Thử đọc qua một số headline từ tháng 4:

  • Khi Việt Nam kỷ luật ngôn luận, cựu công an thành công trong nghệ thuật (WSJ)
  • Công ty viễn thông hàng đầu Việt Nam [Viettel, thuộc bộ quân đội] triển khai công nghệ 5G tự phát triển (Nikkei)
  • Sau khi Trung Quốc cấm nhập khẩu nhựa, Đông Nam Á trở thành cơ sở tái chế lớn nhất thế giới (Saigoneer)

Người viết này không dám khẳng định điều gì, chỉ hy vọng rằng người đọc sẽ đôi lúc nhìn lại cảnh quan và con người xung quanh với cặp mắt mới.

Lan man vậy là đủ, giờ tới chuyện công việc:

Trong tháng 4, chúng tôi đã đầu tư vào công ty #41 (fintech / enterprise SaaS) và #42 (edtech). Trong danh mục đầu tư hiện tại, một công ty khác gọi vốn thành công 20 triệu đô la Mỹ tại Series B (chưa công bố). Nền tảng influencer marketing Hiip mua lại BP Network tại Jakarta để tăng tốc quá trình mở rộng trong vùng Đông Nam Á. Influencer đang lên Hậu Lý của chúng tôi cũng vừa xuất hiện trong chương trình của VTV1 (kênh tin tức lớn nhất Việt Nam). Trong khi đó, Bình hoàn thành lịch trình dày đặc trong chuyến đi Việt Nam gần đây nhất.


Hẹn bạn tháng sau,

Team 500 Startups Vietnam


500 Startups Vietnam in the News


Hiip acquires Jakarta-based BP Network to accelerate its regional expansion. Shintaries Nijerinda, Co-founder and CEO of BP Network, said: “BP Network will rebrand to Hiip Indonesia and become part of this highly successful regional company. This will give our customers and influencers access to Hiip’s proprietary AI technology and international cross-market opportunities.” E27 4/25

500VN portfolio company ELSA featured in leading Japanese business newspaper Nikkei Asian Review. Vu Van thinks ELSA can improve the lives of nonnative English speakers: “We believe that when they speak good English…there’s just a lot more opportunity open to them.” The app’s proprietary voice recognition and AI is “incredibly effective” and “makes their technology difficult to duplicate”, said 500VN’s Binh Tran. Nikkei Asian Review. 4/13

500VN manager Hau Ly featured on national television. “Venture capital is not a male arena.” VTV 4/18


Other Vietnam Tech News


How Vietnam is embracing the cashless revolution. According to PwC’s Global Consumer Insights Survey 2019, the number of people making mobile payments in stores is growing the fastest in Vietnam, increasing by 24% to reach 61% in a single year. China leads the pack with 86% of its population tapping mobile payments, followed by Thailand at 67%. Entrepreneur. 4/19

Go-Jek brings in Misfit co-founder and ex-Facebook head Christy Trang Le to lead Vietnam business. Bringing in a new leader — and one with the background of Le — looks like a coup, although her role building out Go-Viet’s on-demand business will be quite different from that of anchoring Facebook or running Misfit/Fossil. TechCrunch. 4/22

Shark Tank Vietnam’s co-star talks recent investments and the country’s startup ecosystem. “Many people think of Vietnam as a place to get low-cost production or software development. Vietnam has 100M people with strong consumerism habits, high literacy rate, who are curious and open to change,” said Linh Thai. Forbes. 4/20

Sequoia reveals first cohort for its ‘Surge’ accelerator program in India and Southeast Asia. Two startups from Vietnam are Telio, a B2B commerce platform that aims to digitize the process of brands and wholesalers selling to retailers; and Uiza, a startup that lets publishers and companies develop their own video infrastructure independent of platforms like YouTube. TechCrunch. 4/19

Shopee starts charging commissions in Vietnam. Shopee’s decision to implement this policy in Vietnam, where it is the most popular e-commerce platform, is the next step in a strategy that first focused on gaining market share and now aims at building a more sustainable business model. KrAsia. 4/8

Vietnam’s Vingroup takes aim at Samsung and China’s Oppo. Vietnam’s richest man, Pham Nhat Vuong, is stepping up his efforts to grab a share of the domestic smartphone market from foreign rivals such as South Korea’s Samsung. Financial Times. 4/28

How Vietnam’s ride-hailing apps are challenging Grab’s local monopoly. Besides Go-Jek, Vietnamese startups including VATO, Aber, FastGo, Be are countering Grab’s stranglehold on the Vietnam market. ASEAN Today. 4/22

IoT Innovation Hub by Ericsson and Vietnam’s Minister of Science and Technology opens in Hanoi. The hub is the first of its kind in Vietnam and is located in Hoa Lac Hi-tech Park. Vietnam News. 4/11

Vietnam’s blockchain startup Utop raises $3M from SBI Holdings, FPT. Utop partners with small businesses to link their reward programs with each other to reduce costs and keep data secure. DealStreetAsia. 4/23




Nordic Mingle Event, HCMC, 5/8

Meet Eddie and other esteemed panelists at the event hosted by the Nordic Innovation House, in celebration of 50 years of diplomatic relations between Sweden and Vietnam. RSVP

2nd Open Innovation Vietnam 2019, HCMC, 5/21

Focusing on innovation in Southeast Asia, the panel includes speakers from VNG, HSBC, and Shinhan to name a few. Event

Women’s Summit 2019 by Forbes Vietnam, HCMC, 5/23

With keynote speeches and panel discussions by women leaders in different fields, the event concludes with a ceremony honoring Forbes’ 50 Vietnamese Most Influential Women 2019. Ticket

Echelon Asia Summit 2019, Singapore, 5/23-24

Eddie will be speaking at e27’s 2-day event with 15,000+ attendees, 100+ exhibiting startups, and three stages on Founders, Future, and Capital. Event

RISE.AI Roadshow, HCMC, 5/31

Networking event by RISE.AI, a corporate AI accelerator program that will bring 30 AI startups from all over the world to Southeast Asia. Event

Thành phố San Francisco
Tầng 6, 814 Mission,
San Francisco, CA 94103, USA

© 2010-2019 500 Startups

April 2019 Newsletter

April 2019 Newsletter

Ảnh: Manager Lý Khánh Hậu trong danh sách Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2019


Chào mọi người,

Một số thương vụ lớn (quy mô hơn $50M) đã đẩy mức đầu tư mạo hiểm tại Việt Nam tới mức kỷ lục năm 2018 (theo như báo cáo của Topica Founder Institute), trong đó phải kể đến:

Some negative hits notwithstanding (entertainment company Yeah1 having its content-hosting agreement with YouTube terminated; ride-hailing app GO-VIET parting ways with its CEO), the momentum seems set to continue into 2019. January saw the announcement of Warburg Pincus đã thông báo đầu tư $100M vào nhà cung cấp ví điện tử Momo, và tháng 3 có tin tức cho rằng Tiki đang hoàn tất vòng gọi vốn quy mô $75M từ Northstar. Tháng này chúng tôi cũng đã gặp mặt nhiều nhà đầu tư danh tiếng–những người đang muốn tìm hiểu môi trường Việt Nam và tìm kiếm cơ hội đầu tư–trong đó có Sequoia, GGV (quỹ đầu tư danh giá đang hoạt động tại Trung Quốc/San Francisco), Korea Investment Partners, và Eight Roads (cánh đầu tư mạo hiểm của Fidelity).

We are happy to help deliver great companies to later-stage investors like these. One of our companies recently closed a >$30M Series B (not yet announced), one of a half-dozen that successfully raised money in Q1. Another 10+ of our companies may aim to raise new financing within 2019.

Critical to our work have been the efforts of Hau Ly. Hau joined us almost 3 years ago, in response to a job post seeking our “missing link”. Since then she has worked on investment, portfolio support, fund operations, and now our SF-inspired, Saigon-based Saola Accelerator. It’s been amazing to see how much she’s grown and an honor to have her stay committed. So we were thrilled by Hậu đã được vinh danh trong danh sách Forbes Asia 30 Under 30 2019.

Thành công của các founder, cũng như những nỗ lực của Hậu là minh chứng cho sứ mệnh của chúng tôi: hỗ trợ những startup triển vọng nhất của Việt Nam. Hiện tại, 500 Startups Vietnam đang tiếp tục tập trung vào các startup ở giai đoạn mầmchúng tôi vừa kết thúc một cuộc marathon 3 tháng để đánh giá hàng ngàn công ty công nghệ, song song với việc chuẩn bị bắt đầu chương trình tăng tốc khởi nghiệp Saola vào quý 2cùng lúc đó, chúng tôi cũng bắt đầu suy nghĩ “Tiếp theo sẽ là gì?”

Kết nối với chúng tôi nếu bạn muốn tham gia vào chặng đường tiếp theo của 500 Startups Vietnam.


Hẹn bạn tháng sau,

Team 500 Startups Vietnam


Alibaba’s eFounders Fellowship is looking for digital ventures that have been in operation for at least 2 years, and are based in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, or Vietnam. Apply by 4/7.

SC Ventures, the innovation, ventures and fintech investments unit of Standard Chartered Bank, has created SC Ventures Fintech Bridge, a platform to connect community builders such as startups, investors and accelerators. Join or recommend a company.

2019 Visa Everywhere Initiative – Women’s Global Edition celebrates women entrepreneurs with a $100K prize to each challenge winner. Apply by 4/14.


500 Startups Vietnam in the News

Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2019 – Finance and Venture Capital: Hau Ly. “Championing gender equality in tech in Vietnam is Hau Ly, 500 Startups manager based in Ho Chi Minh City. Although not yet a partner, Ly is instrumental in helping the $14 million fund invest more than a quarter of the capital into local next generation entrepreneurs. In addition to managing the ecosystem operations, she also leads the Saola Accelerator.” Forbes. 4/1

Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2019 – Consumer Technology: Alan Jiang and Deb Gangopadhyay. The co-founders of Beam believe that in dense Asian cities, personal car ownership will eventually be replaced by shared electric vehicles. Forbes. 4/1

Vietnam is shaping up to be Southeast Asia’s next hottest startup ecosystem. Having “plenty of low-cost high-tech talent” is also an advantage for the country, with US tech giant IBM projecting that “Vietnam could be top three in the world by the number of engineers in five years,” explains Eddie. Tech in Asia. 3/20

Hiip, Vietnam’s leading social influencer platform, closes Series A. Vnet Capital led the round; Japan Strategic Capital, Tokyo-listed marketing technology company Rentracks, and Singapore-based Vulpes Investment Management joined. e27. 3/25

A brain drain in reverse. Binh told ASEAN Today that overseas Vietnamese bring “global cultural perspectives, knowledge of modern product development design and processes as well as a better understanding of capital options” to the tech industry. ASEAN Today. 3/20

The uniqueness of startup founders in Southeast Asia: Venture Voices. “Compared with startup ecosystems in Singapore and Indonesia, Vietnam’s ecosystem is still a few years behind. This has required Vietnamese founders to learn how to be resourceful and agile. With all else equal, I think this makes them more competitive in the long run than their counterparts in more cash-rich ecosystems,” said Eddie. KrAsia. 4/2

F&B products that are actually giving back this International Women’s Day. Copper Cow Coffee, a women-owned and sustainably sourced Vietnamese pour-over coffee startup, will be donating 20% of all sales to Women for Women International. Refinery29. 3/9


Vietnam in the News

Vietnam Q1 GDP growth slows to 6.8%. The government has targeted economic growth of between 6.6 percent and 6.8 percent this year. Reuters. 3/29

Gaw Capital says Vietnam is a ‘no-brainer’ investment (video). “Vietnam will still likely in the next 5-7 years be the highest-return market of any Southeast Asia markets, or any Asia markets for that matter,” said Goodwin Gaw. Bloomberg. 3/26

How will foreign investment change Vietnam’s economy? Vietnam is currently at a turning point, looking back at simple exports like rice and Reeboks that helped it develop, and looking forward to a more advanced economy along the lines of Taiwan or South Korea. Voice of America. 3/25

Vietnam students invent air-cleaning bicycle. Test results show that the device could filter up to 86% of dust and 63% of nitrogen oxide. BBC. 3/29

U.S. real estate developers look to Vietnam for cheap financing. The EB-5 program offers green cards in return for investing in job-creating US businesses or real-estate projects. About 20% of EB-5 investment in American real estate now comes from Vietnam, putting it behind India’s 25% and China’s 30%. Wall Street Journal. 3/5


Vietnam Tech in the News

Vietnam’s Tiki set to raise $75M funding round led by PE firm Northstar. Previously, JD.com lead a Series C investment round in Tiki alongside VNG, the Vietnam-based online media and gaming company in January 2018. DealStreetAsia. 3/29

GOJEK’s Vietnam CEO steps down, takes on advisory role. Nguyen Vu Duc helped deploy Uber’s services in Vietnam before becoming co-founder and CEO of Go-Viet, which began operations last August. TheLEADER. 4/1

YouTube to end content-hosting agreement with Vietnam’s Yeah1. As a result of the termination, Yeah1 is considering selling California-based ScaleLab, which the Vietnamese company just bought for $20M in January. Bloomberg. 3/9

Breakthrough as Vietnam licenses the first crypto exchange. The current license gives the company the mandate to operate in Vietnam in spite of the authorities banning crypto activities. Yahoo News. 3/28

Vietnam ‘state-aligned’ hackers are targeting auto firms. “It is likely to support the Vietnamese government’s publicly stated domestic manufacturing goals for automobiles,” said Nick Carr of FireEye. Bloomberg. 3/20

Vietnamese ride-hailing app FastGo to launch in Singapore in April. Unlike some ride-hailing apps, FastGo will charge its driver-partners a fixed daily subscription fee instead of collecting commission fees. Yahoo News. 3/22

Jio Health raises a $5M Series A, combines online and offline healthcare in Southeast Asia, starting in Vietnam. The “full-stack” healthcare startup operates an online healthcare app and a physical facility in Saigon. TechCrunch. 4/1

Digital gifting and loyalty platform UrBox raises seed funding to expand into SEA. The startup connects businesses with gift suppliers and merchants to enhance their rewards and loyalty programs. UrBox’s merchants include 7-Eleven, Family Mart, Shopee, and Grab. Tech in Asia. 3/29

Vingroup opens VinTech research centre in South Korea. Vingroup will invest $11M into VinTech Korea to research application of IoT, AI, robotics, and smart manufacturing plants. Vietnam News. 3/5



Venture Builder vs. Venture Capital: Choosing your early-stage funding partners, HCMC, 4/5

Panelists from Fram, REAPRA and Patamar Capital discuss the fundamental differences in investment philosophy, equity structure, founder selection criteria and support system between venture builder and venture capital firms. Ticket

Thành phố San Francisco
Tầng 6, 814 Mission,
San Francisco, CA 94103, USA

© 2010-2019 500 Startups