Newly-formed Vietnamese VC firm, Startup Viet Partners, has made its entrance into the ecosystem with a US$5 million fund.

The fund will focus on B2B and B2B2C sectors, specializing in tech solutions for SMEs and corporations in Vietnam.

SV Partners is supported by 10 Limited Partners (LPs), they include businessmen and women in Vietnam who each has an average of 20 years of experience in building and managing large Vietnamese corporations. Their expertise range from retailing, manufacturing, FMCG, F&B, publishing, software and consulting.

“All the investors and advisors at SV Partners have extensive networks and experience in these local industries. They understand the needs of the businesses in Vietnam, and what startups should do to deliver solutions tailored for those needs.,” said An Ha, who is the Managing Director at Startup Viet Partners, in an interview with e27. “That is the key value of SV Partners, and that is what sets us apart from other VC funds in Vietnam.”

The VC’s board advisors include investors and entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley — a critical factor that will enable its investees to access global markets.

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SV Partners will be cutting checks between US$500K to US$1 million. It aims to fund between 2 to 4 startups per year. Besides pumping in capital, SV Partners will work closely with the startups with regards strategy, operations, and business development.

“We will be very selective of the startups we invest in. We are only going to pick those that we can add value to and help them grow exponentially. This is not a ‘pray and spray’ method often preferred by early-stage funds or angel investors; our fund requires much more effort from all of our investors,” said An.

The Vietnamese ecosystem doesn’t have a problem of too little venture funding, she emphasised, but rather, a lack of operational support.

“I’ve seen startups fail after they receive seed funding, or they survive but falter in their growth process. Most of the time, they don’t know how to deploy the investment strategically. Those that survive struggle to advance to the next level because they face hurdles growing and building the team, establishing partnerships, and expanding their business networks,” said An.

Diving deeper, An said that Vietnamese startups face a tough time convincing small business owners and corporations to adopt new and innovative solutions. But these businesses would likely be more receptive by way of introduction from community partners: the VCs.

“B2B sales in Vietnam is a tough area to crack as much of the sales process depends on who you know and trust,” said An, “so this is where our networks can help.”

And it is not just about helping the startups; there is an imperative to stimulate the country’s economy through digital transformation. Last year, the Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc issued a decree ordering all branches of private and public sectors to move into the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Currently, many businesses in Vietnam are still lagging behind other countries in their level of digital readiness.

“For example, many Vietnamese businesses are still relying on simple tools like Excel to manage their complex operations. We can help them identify their inefficiencies, and recommend B2B solutions, built by the startups we invest in, to solve their problems,” An said. “This will be a win-win situation for both sides”.

Each startup who receive funding from SV Partners will not only gain access to its networks of investors but also that of its partners and advisors. SV Partners will also be able to find the right candidates to fill key positions in the startups.

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The VC is already looking at investing in several potential startups. It partners closely with one of Vietnam’s leading accelerators, the Business Startup Support Centre (BSSC), to find the next investment opportunities.

SV Partners will be disclosing more details at its official launch event on Startup Day 2018, Vietnam’s largest startup exhibit and competition, on Aug 25, at Riverside Palace, Ho Chi Minh City.

Photo by Minh Minh on Unsplash