One man connecting entrepreneurs all over the world

Joshua Slayton is the founding CTO of AngelList, the leading platform for startups, through which more than $600 million has been invested since 2010. Recently, Joshua has been working on another new platform for cryptocurrency fundraising, called CoinList. VIR talked with Slayton about his opinions on the startup scene and his upcoming trip to Vietnam this December to judge the national round of VietChallenge 2018—the first global entrepreneurship competition for Vietnamese founders from all over the world. 

Joshua Slayton, founding CTO of AngelList

What is AngelList and what role does it play in the global startup ecosystem?

AngelList is a platform where startups raise funds, recruit, and find customers. Over $600 million has been invested in startups through AngelList. Although the fundraising product caters mostly to startups in the US, Canada, and Europe, startups around the world use our recruiting and marketing products to meet hundreds of thousands of global candidates and customers.

Have you ever worked with or had any contact with Vietnamese startups? What do you think about them?

Not in particular, but I have met Vietnamese entrepreneurs in other parts of the world. I have been impressed with them all so far.

What will it take for Vietnam to become Asia’s next tech-hub?

First and foremost it takes capital to create any tech hub, so there need to be angel and seed investors ready to risk putting their money in the hands of entrepreneurs. You need an environment in which entrepreneurs are encouraged by the government and the corporate culture. Usually, after one or two successful tech companies emerge in a certain area, a hub will start to form. Many people are surprised to hear that Estonia has a big tech scene—that is mostly because the Skype team reinvested their profits and people into the area after Skype was sold.

Since AngelList is focusing on the Silicon Valley startups scene, what would be the benefits for Vietnamese startups in using AngelList?

People use AngelList as the directory for startups, so it is always important to have a profile there. Startups anywhere in the world, including Vietnam, can use AngelList to recruit. We currently have hundreds of candidates in Hanoi, for example. When you are ready to launch your product, Product Hunt can help you get tens of thousands of new customers in a single day. It does not matter where in the world you are.

What did you do in your 20s that set you for success in your 30s?

Everyone says hard work is important, and that is true. But good judgment and good luck has also played an invaluable role in my success. I chose risky ventures that others would have passed on because I believed passionately in whatever the project was. As for luck, being kind and friendly with everyone I meet has helped me make a lot of random connections that opened some really important doors in my career! You never know who is going to give you the opportunity that might change your life.

What is the first thing that you would like to do in Vietnam?

I have travelled a lot around the world, meeting people in startup scenes around the globe. I am excited to meet and network with the up-and-coming entrepreneurs and investors in Vietnam. It will be my first time in Vietnam, so I am looking forward to seeing the country in general.

VietChallenge 2018 Fact Sheet

Mission

VietChallenge, the first global competition for Vietnamese entrepreneurs, was established in 2015 with the mission to empower the local enterprising community, to lift their ideas to the next stage of development. We want to encourage new startups and offer them opportunities to break into the international market and, in doing so, become the leading forces in the Vietnamese economy. Working toward that goal, we are looking for ideas that will both address market needs in Vietnam and tackle the challenges presented by the international community in an increasingly globalised economy.

Timeline

September 1, 2017: Accepting online submissions

November 1, 2017: Closing Screening Round

November 20, 2017: Announcing the Screening Round’s Results

December 19, 2017: Regional Round for Vietnamese teams in Hanoi

December 22, 2017: Regional Round for Vietnamese teams in Ho Chi Minh City

January 9, 2018: Final Round for Vietnamese teams in Hanoi

January 14, 2018: Semi-Final for International teams

April 6, 2018: Reception Dinner

April 7, 2018: Final Round at MIT

Prize

Stipend for six finalists

$2,000 each

Four Third Place

$2,000 each

One Runner-Up

$5,000 each

One Winner

$25,000 each

Co-Organisers

VietChallenge—The first entrepreneurship competition for Vietnam

Up Co-working Space—The most convenient, modern and only co-working space that is open 24/7 in Vietnam

Vietnam National Union of Students in Hanoi—A national organisation aiming to foster the education and development of Vietnamese students

VietChallenge 2018’s Judges

Mike Edelhart–managing partner at Social Starts, Vivek Soni–managing director at TiE Boston Angels, Joshua Slayton–CTO at AngelList, Casey Lau–venture partner at Blue Startups/Head of Asia at RISE Conference, Tran Huu Duc–director at FPT Ventures, and Tuan Pham–managing director at Silicon Valley Bank

Statistics and data from VietChallenge 2017

176 participants from 23 regions and countries

VietChallenge 2017 Winner of $20,000: Team ScholarJet

VietChallenge 2017 Final Round Guests, including Pham Quang Vinh–Vietnamese Ambassador to the US, H.E Ambassador Nguyen Phuong Nga–Head of Vietnam’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, Kerry Healey–president of Babson College, and Vu Quang Hoi–chairman of Bitexco Group

By Hoang Anh