Given 500’s mission to again entrepreneurs globally, we try to go the place different buyers not often enterprise.
A number of years in the past, Vietnam was not an apparent tech funding vacation spot: the nation was poor (GDP per capita was barely over US$2k, in accordance with the World Financial institution), fraught with forms, and struggling to create an ecosystem for the few, disconnected founders and even fewer lively angels and VCs.
However entrepreneurial people did see parts of one thing particular: a fast-growing financial system; a considerable provide of low-cost, high-tech expertise; and a broad & skilled Vietnamese diaspora more and more to reconnect with and contribute to the nation. A brand new wave of tech founders determined to make the leap.
Regardless of — or due to — the dearth of financing and assist accessible to them, serial entrepreneur Binh Tran (co-founder of Klout) and I leapt in too, saying in March 2016 the deliberate launch of a Vietnam-focused fund.
“The world is taking discover. A number one world enterprise capital agency known as 500 startups simply launched a 10 million greenback fund right here in Ho Chi Minh Metropolis,” stated Obama throughout his go to in 2016. (Vietnam Information)
Thus started the arduous means of elevating a frontier market enterprise capital fund led by first-time fund managers. It was humbling to make sure. Thankfully, we had been emotionally sustained by the work that we began doing instantly.
Investing in and supporting high-potential entrepreneurs
Amongst 500 Startups Vietnam’s feminine founders: (from left) Debbie Mullen (Copper Cow Espresso), Vu Van (ELSA), Mimi Chan (Littlefund)
Now we have invested virtually $3M in 36 corporations up to now, with a concentrate on corporations serving the Vietnam market and/or leveraging Vietnamese expertise. The businesses have been various, starting from ecommerce and edtech, to fintech and blockchain. Based mostly on our information, their groups have been fairly various as properly: 25% have at the least 1 feminine founder (it’s a good begin, however we goal to do higher); founders had been raised in Vietnam, the U.S., France, India, Iran, Turkey, and Australia; their ages vary from early 20s to late 40s; and so forth.
We’re happy with the portfolio’s progress to date. Amongst corporations in whom we invested greater than 1 yr in the past, 75% have reportedly raised a mixed US$60M in downstream capital by means of the third quarter of 2018. 2 corporations have closed cash from Sequoia. 1 firm has been acquired. In our view, these are simply early indicators in an extended journey for our founders and for us. Although we by no means doubted that Vietnamese startups might do properly, the velocity at which corporations are hitting these milestones has been pleasantly shocking and inspiring.
Serving to develop a thriving ecosystem in Vietnam
From left: Binh at Geeks On A Seashore within the Philippines, Eddie at WEF ASEAN, each throughout President Obama’s 2016 go to to Vietnam
Alongside the best way, we’ve been serving to develop foundations right here in Vietnam, partially out of necessity (e.g. for supporting our startups) and partially in pursuit of 500’s mission to construct thriving startup ecosystems around the globe. The entire group has been concerned in educating Vietnamese founders and buyers, offering business suggestions to authorities stakeholders about potential regulatory reform, offering suggestions at pitch competitions & demo days, and extra.
Moreover, we now have labored to attract world consideration to Vietnam’s tech potential. 200+ press retailers — with centered articles from Forbes, Fortune, Bloomberg, TechCrunch, DealStreetAsia, and Nikkei Asian Evaluate — have reached out to us to speak enterprise capital and startups in Vietnam. Now we have additionally shared about Vietnam’s alternatives and challenges in 100+ native, regional, and world occasions organized by organizations together with The Economist, the World Financial Discussion board, AVCJ, Horasis, the Obama Basis, e27, and Tech In Asia. Now we have additionally organized a couple of of our personal curated occasions, akin to “Google Startup Week” in November 2016 and our inaugural “Vietnam Investor Expeditionary Trek” in January 2018.
We imagine our conviction has been an element within the elevated exercise. In accordance with information and evaluation by Topica Founder Institute, startup funding in Vietnam has elevated from 29 offers in 2014 to 92 offers in 2017. A number of new funds have launched not too long ago to put money into extra Vietnam-connected startups, together with ESP Capital, VinaCapital Ventures, Startup Viet Companions, and Zone Startups Vietnam, to call a couple of. With unprecedented curiosity within the area, we’re able to step on the gasoline.
Immediately, we’re psyched to announce the shut of our fund at $14M.1 That’s 40% over our $10M goal. Substantial investments come from our pals at GS Store, Humax, NCORE, and quite a few different buyers in Asia, the US, and Europe. Although small on the planet of funding funds, we imagine a bit of cash can go a great distance for startup founders. Resourcefulness, cost-efficiency and an plain capability to hustle appear to be coded of their DNA.
The funding might be further gas for the 500 Startups Vietnam group to:
Put money into extra startups. Having set our sights on as much as 100 offers for this fund, we’re on the outlook for as much as 64 extra superb startups to again.
Write greater checks. ~2/three of our preliminary investments have been $50Ok-$100Ok. Going ahead, we anticipate our typical first examine to be roughly $100Ok, and probably as much as $250Ok.
Enhance group capability to assist our portfolio corporations. We already welcomed Four new colleagues in September. Born and raised in numerous components of Vietnam, they bring about various work expertise starting from startups, like Anduin Transactions and Topica EdTech, to bigger corporations, like Lazada, Deloitte, and KPMG. We’re aiming to rent 2-Four extra individuals to affix the group within the coming months.
We’re impressed by our portfolio firm founders’ visions & grit, and we’re grateful to have the ability to be part of their journey. We’re able to roll our sleeves up increased and work even more durable to assist them construct the long run.
Till then, keep “pho-nomenal”!
#500sturdy, Saigon version
Keep up to date about what’s taking place by way of our month-to-month publication, Fb web page, and Vietnam-dedicated web site.
Apply for funding in your high-potential Vietnam-connected tech startup right here.
Disclaimers and notes: This text displays the private views of Eddie Thai, and never essentially the views of 500 Startups. Nothing on this article must be construed as a suggestion, invitation or solicitation for funding, or be construed as funding recommendation. Knowledge supplied is as reported by portfolio corporations, third-party sources, and/or inside estimates and will not have been independently verified. 1: together with the GP dedication.