Two investment advisories — Bangkok-based GeeXstar and Ho Chi Minh City’s Seedfund.vn — have joined hands and entered a cooperation to provide investors with a “more efficient entry” into Thailand and Vietnam, connect startups and potential partners, and improve cross-border deals between the two countries.
According to the official statement, while the startup communities in Vietnam and Thailand are indeed growing rapidly, there is a lack of access and understanding when it comes to cultural gaps. It noted, “Most investors in Southest Asia are either local telcos or a few VCs, especially from Japan and Singapore.” This is then backed by notable investments from CyberAgent Ventures, Golden Gate Ventures, and Rakuten.
Tram Ho, Investor Relations Director, Seedfund.vn said, “We are going to offer investors from around the world transparency, international standards, structured processes and access to local markets.”
Christian Walter, Co-founder and Managing Partner at GeeXstar, also told this author that as GeeXstar is positioned on the ground in Thailand, it has direct access to the local community and understanding of the market scenario. In addition, he said, “Apart from this, we do have, of course, the ‘standard data’ on demographics, growth rates, economic outlooks, estimates on startups and the areas they are working in, and detailed market (entry) analyses for several markets.” Walter added that GeeXstar also manages a large number of projects in Europe and the US, but he cannot comment on them.
On the official GeeXstar website, it is noted that the company has an interest in startups in the education, healthcare and advertising industries. Walter said, “Education and technology will at one point go hand in hand. It’s a huge trend with great opportunities and it will come to Asia. Thailand has endorsed the one tablet per child campaign, with mixed results, but there is a general trend towards the integration of education and technology.” He also added that healthcare tourism is still a big market, given rising costs in Western countries.
Advertising is interesting as well, as he explained that a majority of Southeast Asians are still not online. He added, “Also, the ad spending for the region will outgrow the US, so there are great opportunities.”
Ho also told e27 that Seedfund is backed by an experienced team with four members coming from diversified backgrounds: finance, technology, business development, and sales and marketing. The other three members are: Hieu Nguyen, Co-founder and Business Development Director, DeltaViet; Trung Huynh, Head of Operations of Project Lana; and Bobby Liu, Founder of Hub.IT.
She said, “In my own opinion, Vietnam’s startup ecosystem is still infant and needs more resources, supports, as well as collaboration from different elements from inside and outside the ecosystem. Let me elaborate on this; for me, an ecosystem should have founders, startups, investors, supporting organisations (co-working spaces, incubators, accelerators, some organisations doing services like Seedfund does) and government.”
Ho recognised that there is a pool of skilled talent in Vietnam, but these young founders will have to think like business experts. There are increasingly more supporting organisations which create a healthy ecosystem for startups such as Saigon Hub and 5Desire. The government has also launched the project of building Silicon Valley in Vietnam, which she believes promises better opportunities for these entrepreneurs.