August 2019 Newsletter

500 Startups Vietnam

August 20, 2019

Dear all,

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 here!

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 Investment Analyst 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!


Until next month,

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

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