Silicon Valley-based accelerator-cum-venture fund 500 Startups has roped in two venture partners in Vietnam as part of its growing initiatives in Southeast Asia.
The appointments of Binh Tran and Eddie Thai as venture partners come shortly after the launch of its growth-stage acceleration programme Distro Dojo in Malaysia, besides 500 TukTuks fund for Thailand and extension of 500 500 Durians for Southeast Asia.
Tran comes with more than 20 years of experience in technology. A four-time founder, his latest venture Klout, a social marketing tool that was backed by Kleiner Perkins, got acquired in 2014 at a US$200 million valuation.
In the new role at 500 Startups, he will reside both in San Francisco and Ho Chi Minh City, allowing him to work with Vietnamese and American founders building startups for their homeland, as well as supporting teams with global aspirations. Binh began angel investing three years ago and also advises several startups, including Chute, MirusSearch and Hired.
Thai brings experience in tech, media, and telecommunications in the US and Vietnam. He started his career at Nodal Exchange, a novel combinatorial auction platform for commodity futures. After several years working on strategy and finance for various US Fortune 500 companies and other large corporates, he, last year, shifted his focus back to startups, advising various Vietnamese teams including Chon.vn and POSE.vn. Thai will provide 500 Startups with on-the-ground deal sourcing, selection and support. He holds degrees from Harvard and Yale.
“For us, it was never a question of ‘is Vietnam ready as a market?’, but rather ‘are we ready for Vietnam as a market?’, and today, we’re making our first of many moves to be ready!” said Khailee Ng, Managing Partner of 500 Startups.
Vietnam is big, fast-growing and underserved by seed-stage venture capital firms. It has more people than in California, New York and Florida combined. More than 40 million of the population are on Internet. Vietnam is one world’s fastest growing economies since 1990 and has been Apple’s fastest growing market in the world.
500 Startups has already invested in three startups in the country, and it now plans to back up to 20 more over the next 12 months.
500 Startups is a venture capital seed fund and startup accelerator, with approximately US$190 million assets under management. It has invested in a wide variety of technology startups all over the world, currently around 1,200 companies since its inception in 2010. Its team of 75 people manage seed investments in 15 countries and speak over 20 languages. It runs accelerator programmes in San Francisco and Silicon Valley.