Global steed-stage VC firm, 500 Startups, has announced the closing of its first Vietnam fund with over US$14 million in committed capital, surpassing its original target of US$10 million.
The Vietnam fund plans to invest in up to 100 startups by 2020. The fund targets companies serving the local market or leveraging the local talent.
Although it is formally vertical agnostic, lead partners Eddie Thai and Binh Tran are bullish on deep solutions to common gaps in emerging markets, including education & training, financial services, transportation & logistics, and SME productivity.
Its 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.
“Vietnam has been one of the fastest-growing economies in the world since 1990, defying the recent strains in other emerging markets,” said Thai. “It’s an exciting context to look for great tech companies. We’ve proud of the founders of the 36 startups we’ve already backed, and we’re 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, good demographics, and low-cost high talent. “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,” added Thai.
Since April 2017, the Vietnam fund has invested in 36 companies. Of the companies it has invested in more than a year ago, 75 per cent have reported raising downstream capital or 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).
Since its inception in Silicon Valley, 500 Startups has invested in over 2,000 companies via its four global funds and 14 microfunds dedicated to specific geographic markets or verticals. Its 100-plus team members are located in multiple locations worldwide, with 500 Startups’ global portfolio of investments spanning over 60 countries.
Notable portfolio companies include: Twilio , SendGrid, Credit Karma, Grab, Carousell, Udemy, Kudo (acquired by Grab), Talkdesk, Makerbot (acquired by SSYS), Wildfire (acquired by GOOG), and Viki (acquired by Rakuten).