January 2020 Newsletter

500 Startups Vietnam team members and portfolio founders at an end-of-year BBQ dinner
Binh & Eddie

February 14, 2020

Happy new year!

December was another busy month for us, as we closed investments #53 (AI enterprise startup Glee Trees), #54 (undisclosed fintech startup), #55 (ecommerce enabler Intrepid), and #56 (undisclosed fintech startup).

It was a strong end to a busy 2019 for us and the broader Vietnam ecosystem. Some highlights for the year:

  • Continued investment interest in Vietnam! Nearly US$500M came from just three mega-rounds — Momo’s $100M led by Warburg Pincus, VNPay’s $300M led by GIC and Softbank Vision Fund, and Tiki’s $75M-plus led by Northstar.
  • We made 19 investments, the same number as in 2018 (when there were 92 deals total in Vietnam according to Topica Founder Institute). 500VN has now invested in a cumulative 56 companies to-date.
  • We hosted the first batch of Saola, our Silicon Valley-inspired, Saigon-based accelerator program, capped by an action-packed demo day.
  • Our portfolio companies continued to make progress, including another “centaur” (e.g. >$100M valuation company) crowned, marking 3 in our portfolio already.

We are hitting the ground running in 2020: Binh moved to Ho Chi Minh City, Eddie joined 500’s global fund managers’ summit in London, and we expanded our investment and accelerator teams. We now have 9 people working hard to discover and support what will hopefully be Vietnam’s most inspirational tech startups.

For 2020, we’re aiming to close another 20+ investments this year, help our founders reach new heights, and run two more batches of our successful Saola Accelerator.

tl;dr there’s a lot to come!

Until next month,

Team 500 Startups Vietnam

500 Startups Vietnam in the News

TechCrunch featured 500-backed Bunch as one of 10 notable young startups in 2019. Bunch allows users to play mobile games with friends over audio or video chat. “On its face, it might seem like a lightweight idea […]. But in a society where people are increasingly “apart together” — and study after study shows that social ties boost our longevity — the app has wide appeal from not just an entertainment but a wellness standpoint,” TechCrunch commented. TechCrunch. 12/20

Eddie Thai shared with The Edge Markets Malaysia on investing in Vietnam’s growth. “Despite the recent influx of venture capital interest, it is still fairly early in Vietnam’s startup scene with a lot of upside potential. And this is happening in the midst of a broader rising tide in the country. The minister of planning and investment has recognized this as a ‘once in a millennium opportunity’ for the economy,” said Eddie. The Edge Markets. 12/19

SEA startup funding ends decade on a high, but warning signs emerge. Shared with Tech in Asia, Binh Tran observed that the region’s startups are enjoying fundraising conditions that don’t seem sustainable. “The size of SEA’s internet economy is about 5% the size of the US’. However, we’re seeing companies raising on early-stage valuations similar to Silicon Valley’s,” he added. Tech in Asia. 12/31

Ecommerce B2B firm Intrepid Group secured series A funding led by Kairous Capital, Sun SEA Capital, and 500 Startups. Founded by Lazada co-founder and senior management team members, Intrepid Group offers brands a one-stop solution with localized access to key markets in Southeast Asia. Tech in Asia. 12/11

Singapore-based Glee Trees closed an investment round from 500 Startups to take its robotic process automation technology regional. With the new fund, Glee Trees will be improving its proprietary cognitive automation solutions, intensifying its primary reach in China, and expanding into Vietnam and Indonesia. e27. 12/18

Hung Phan, co-founder and CEO of Saola batch company Papaya, shared with Vietnam National Television about 500 Startups’ support. “500 Startups provides not only funding but also the global network of experts and fellow founders whom I’ve learnt tremendously from,” said Hung. VTV (in Vietnamese). 12/3

500-backed Cricket One won the national Blue Venture Award to represent Vietnam in the global final of The Venture 2020 in Canada. CafeBiz (in Vietnamese). 1/2


Vietnam in the News

Vietnam’s top 10 economic events in 2019. While 2019 was a challenging year for the world economy, Vietnam picked up growth momentum from the previous year to end 2019 with high notes. Hanoi Times. 12/31

Vietnam’s 2019 trade surplus hit a four-year record. Vietnam is estimated to have a trade surplus of $9.9 billion in 2019, widening from a $7.2 billion in 2018. The nation’s trade turnover surpassed the $500 billion mark for the first time in 2019. Reuters, Vietnam News. 12/27

Vietnam’s 2019 number of new businesses and registered capital recorded the highest level to date. 138,100 businesses were established in Vietnam in 2019, the highest ever, with the government’s initiatives to increase the quantity and quality of enterprises bearing fruit. VNExpress. 12/30

Vietnam’s top 10 landmarks on the stock market in 2019 included a new Law on Securities, an overhaul plan for stock market, a booming bond market, a rise of domestic exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and more. Vietnam Plus. 12/29

Two of Vietnam’s most important companies plan to merge some of their units to create a retail giant in the country. The retail and agriculture units of Vingroup JSC, Vietnam’s biggest-listed firm by market value, will merge with Masan Consumer Holdings — a subsidiary of the leading consumer retailer Masan Group Corp. Saigon Times. 12/3

Vietnam’s richest man bets $2 billion to sell cars to Americans. Pham Nhat Vuong, founder and chairman of Vingroup JSC, is now in charge of the new automaker VinFast. The company plans to crack the US electric car market in 2021 with Vuong investing as much as $2 billion of his own fortune to reach that goal. Bloomberg. 12/10

A Denham Capital venture, Nexif Energy, acquired 94% of equity in Song Giang Hydropower JSC, which owns two hydropower projects in Vietnam with a combined 49 megawatts of capacity. Vietnam Investment Review. 12/17

Trade War latest: Vietnam to punish firms for trade fraud in China-product probe (12/29); Christmas lights, tangled in Trade War, show Vietnam’s struggle (12/ 26). Bloomberg.

Vietnam Tech in the News

Southeast Asia’s new star: The rise of Vietnam’s tech scene in 2019. From funding to ride-hailing, fintech and headaches over regulating big tech companies were among the developments that defined Vietnam’s tech scene in 2019. Kr-Asia. 12/24

Vietnam’s startups bagged $750 million funding in the first 10 months of 2019. Fintech was the hottest sector for investments followed by logistics and ecommerce. DealStreetAsia. 12/5

China’s Ant Financial took stake in Vietnam’s eMonkey. The strategic investment will allow Ant Financial to gain entry to Vietnam’s booming market of nearly 100 million people. Reuters. 12/19

Despite the potential, competition in the ecommerce space is increasingly fierce. South Korean conglomerate Lotte is shutting down its Vietnam-focused online marketplace Lotte.vn. Lotte’s announcement came roughly a week after Vietnamese behemoth Vingroup announced its plan to shut down its ecommerce website Adayroi.com and merge it with its fintech arm VinID. Nikkei Asian Review. 12/26

Equinix, Inc., a Nasdaq-listed interconnection and data center company, signed a strategic partnership with Vietnam’s telco provider FPT to allow Vietnamese companies to go global. Channel Asia. 12/12

Vietnam’s B2B ecommerce startup Telio snapped up $25 million in series A round. The round was led by Tiger Global, with participation from Sequoia India, GGV Capital, and RTP Global. Tech in Asia. 12/19

Vietnam’s online bus ticket and car booking platform VeXeRe raised funding from Woowa Brothers, Ncore Ventures, and Access Ventures. e27. 12/26 

Vietnam’s fintech startup Interloan received $500,000 in prize from Phoenix Holdings after it won Fintech Challenge Vietnam 2019. e27. 12/9

NextTech Group’s venture capital fund Next100 invested $432,000 in digital transformation platform PushSale.vn. Saigon Times. 12/11

Vietnamese recruitment platform TopCV bagged six-digit investment from Korean VC Nextrans. DealStreetAsia. 12/12



Echelon Roadshow 2020, HCMC, 2/20. Echelon Roadshow is heading to HCMC featuring startups from TOP100 — the programme organised by e27 that empowers insights, connections, talent, and funding opportunities for early-stage tech startups in Asia. Event.

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