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|Eddie Thai and Binh Tran of 500 Startups|
“Vietnam has been one of the fastest-growing economies in the world since 1990, defying the recent strains in other emerging markets,” said Eddie Thai. “It is an exciting context to look for great tech companies. We are proud of the founders of the 36 startups we have already backed, and we are thankful to our LPs who have partnered with us to invest in dozens more.”
500 has been doubling down on Vietnam since 2016 due to the strong economy, demographics, and talent.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai during a 2015 visit to Vietnam said, “I think it’s just a matter of time until Vietnamese startups can be successful globally.”
The 500 Startups Vietnam fund plans to invest in up to 100 startups by 2020. It targets companies serving the Vietnamese market or leveraging Vietnamese talent. Although the fund is formally vertical agnostic, lead partners Eddie Thai and Binh Tran are bullish on deep solutions to common gaps in emerging markets, including education and training, financial services, transportation and logistics, and SME productivity.
Eddie Thai said, “Engineers in Vietnam understand the pains of poverty more intimately than their counterparts in San Francisco, New York or London, and so are probably better positioned to find solutions for them.”
Since April 2017, the 500 Startups Vietnam fund has invested in 36 companies. Of the companies it invested in more than one year ago, 75 per cent have reported raising downstream capital or have been exited. Select portfolio companies include electric scooter sharing company Beam (later backed by Sequoia), English learning app ELSA (SXSWedu pitch competition winner, later backed by Monks Hill Ventures), and password-sharing app WifiChua (acquired by Appota).
Corporate and institutional backers include multimedia retailer GS SHOP, consumer electronics manufacturer HUMAX, and venture capital firm NCORE. A number of individuals and family offices in Asia, Europe, and the US also joined. Younghoon Park, executive vice president of GS SHOP, said, "Vietnam's fast growing economy and vibrant startup ecosystem creates many opportunities for corporations to collaborate with startup partners in the country. We are excited to take a big first step with 500 Startups."
500 Startups is a venture capital firm on a mission to discover and back the world’s most talented entrepreneurs, help them create successful companies at scale, and build thriving global ecosystems.
They are one of the most active seed stage venture capital firms in the world. Since their inception in Silicon Valley, 500 Startups has invested in over 2,000 companies via 4 global funds and 14 microfunds dedicated to specific geographic markets or verticals.
Their 100+ team members are located in multiple locations worldwide, with 500 Startups’ global portfolio of investments spanning over 60 countries. Notable portfolio companies include: Twilio (NYSE: TWLO), SendGrid (NASDAQ: SEND), Credit Karma, Grab, Carousell, Udemy, Kudo (acquired by Grab), Talkdesk, Makerbot (acquired by SSYS), Wildfire (acquired by GOOG), and Viki (acquired by Rakuten).