Youngsters lead VN’s start-up scene

January 8, 2019 | 09:23 am GMT+7

Việt Nam is among the most dynamic start-up hubs in the world and well-educated, young entrepreneurs are expected to improve the country’s position on the global start-up map.


There are no official statistics on start-ups in Việt Nam, but according to some regional tech sources, as many as 3,000 are operating in the country, making it the third largest start-up ecosystem in Asia.
The country jumped 12 places to 47th among 127 economies on the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s 2017 Global Innovation Index, its highest ranking in the past 10 years. In Southeast Asia, it sits behind only Singapore and Malaysia.
This progress is believed to be driven by young entrepreneurs who are tech savvy and well educated.
About 70 per cent of the country’s population of more than 90 million is under 35 years old. Thousands of new young innovators, including Vietnamese talents from overseas, are joining the startup community every year.
According to the tech platform ASEAN Post, more than US$290 million was invested in Vietnamese startups in 2017, double investment levels from the previous year.
Investments concentrated on fintech, food tech and e-commerce startups, along with logistics and online travel services.
There are no official figures yet for 2018’s deal value, but last year saw two major fundraisings for e-commerce platforms in Việt Nam – $50 million was invested in Tiki by China’s and Japanese SoftBank invested $50 million in Sendo.
More than 70 venture capital funds are operating in Việt Nam. More than two thirds are from overseas including CyberAgent Venture, Incubate Fund, SoftBank Capital, Crystal Horse Investments and Asia Venture Groups.
Entrepreneurs and investors have bet big on Việt Nam’s boom economy, which has risen by an annual average of 6 per cent over the past 10 years.
Việt Nam is an attractive destination for start-ups thanks to its growing tech scene and its large pool of low-cost, highly skilled tech talent. According to Bình Trần, a partner at 500 Startups and co-founder of Klout, Inc., the country’s engineers are able to build and develop products just as well as their rivals in Silicon Valley – at a cheaper cost.
Many Vietnamese talents from around the world who have rich experience working for multinational companies have returned to Việt Nam and launched their own start-ups.
Apart from capital, Vietnamese returnees bring fresh ideas, business knowledge and connections.
Eddi Thai, general partner at 500 Startups, argued Việt Nam has a competitive advantage over other emerging markets.
“In Southeast Asia, Singapore and Malaysia have well-developed start-up ecosystems,” Thai was quoted as saying on “In contrast, Việt Nam has been emerging thanks to rapid economic expansion, favourable demographics and talents.”
Việt Nam currently has about 250,000 tech engineers, double the number it had three years ago, Thai said. The salary for IT engineers in Việt Nam was still 40 per cent lower than in China and India.
He said many of the start-ups he has invested in provide financial solutions to the Vietnamese market, including Productify and Detexian. He expects significant advances in fintech, e-commerce, logistics, education and health in the next few years.
The start-up community is also strongly supported by the Government. Three major high-tech parks are being built in the country’s three main tech hubs of Hà Nội, HCM City and Đà Nẵng.
An $85 million start-up fund is also expected to launch this year. Projects, incubator programmes and financial support will help local entrepreneurs build their companies and expand within Việt Nam and internationally.
At the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, technology and innovation are a key driver of growth. With a rising number of young and talented entrepreneurs, Việt Nam stands a chance of becoming a key spot on the global start-up map.