Vietnamese startups – who are they?

Ngoc Huynh

VietNamNet Bridge – For foreign investors, most Vietnamese startups copy foreign ideas and develop ideas locally. However, many Vietnamese startups are creative and have brought big money to their owners.

According to Tech in Asia, there are about 1,500 operational startups in Vietnam. The figure, if compared with the population, is higher than Indonesia with 2,100 startups, China with 2,300 and India with 7,500.

Reuters in April 2016 published an article commenting that most Vietnamese startups are in e-commerce and related fields. The e-commerce grew by 35 percent in 2015 to $4 billion which brought many opportunities.

On Deal Street Asia, Jamie Camidge, a startup expert from Muru-D Center, commented that many Vietnamese startups simply copy successful business models in the world and develop models in Vietnam.

The comments show foreigners’ outlook about the Vietnamese startup community: while the quantity is high, the quality isn’t.

Vu Tuan Anh from Hoa Sen Group also commented that starting business from e-commerce is a ‘low-tech startup’.

Tech in Asia said that there are very few startups in Asia which become public companies. In Vietnam, the number of companies which call for series B capital like MoMo or Tiki is so modest that it ‘can be counted with one’s fingers’.

Jamie Camidge said that for the majority of businesses, calling for capital is a must. However, startups pay too much attention to calling for capital, while they should focus on developing products.

In fact, many startups don’t have to call for capital because they can earn money from their high-quality products.

Beeketing, the platform that helps companies analyse consumers’ behaviors, developed by Truong Manh Quan, 26, is an example.

Beeketing can earn $2 million a year and revenue is mostly from US customers.

Design Bold, which connects graphic designers and those who need graphics for marketing and sales, is another example.

Making its debut on October 27, 2016, Design Bold earned $132,366 just after 12 days. Dinh Viet Hung, the owner of Design Bold, said 98 percent of buyers are from the US.

Like Beeketing, the authors of Offpeak decided to develop in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand first before attacking the Vietnamese market. Design Bold also targeted foreign markets before the home market.

As for the startups which don’t target foreign markets first, they need to aim for certain niche markets where no one else has bigger advantages. Propzy, for example, connects people who have houses to sell and those who have real demand for houses.

Vo Minh Toan, the manager of Dreamplex co-working space in HCMC, said many institutions from Singapore, Malaysia, China and South Korea organize events at Dreamplex every month. They are investors, incubators and accelerators who seek potential startups.

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