US-based accelerator and investment fund 500 Startups plans to raise a $10-million Vietnam fund, marking its third vehicle in this region, and also making it the most active investor, in deal volumes, in South East Asia.
The Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm had launched a $10-million micro-fund – 500 TukTuks – for Thailand in April this year. It had also launched a South East Asia fund – 500 Durians – with a corpus of $10 million in 2013, and earlier this week, this portal had reported that the firm had more than doubled the size of this vehicle to $22.1 million, citing an SEC filing.
It had also made four investments in Vietnam to date, including, social apps Tappy, Babyme; online ticket platform Ticketbox and lifestyle and event media Pose.com.vn,and is targeting to increase this number to 20 over the next 12 months, demonstrating the need for a specific fund for this region.
Its local partners in Vietnam – Binh Tran has more than 20 years of experience in tech and Eddie Thai who is in the Forbes list of most influential Vietnamese under-30 – have experience across tech, media, and telecommunications both in the US and in that country.
The plans for a Vietnam-specific fund was confirmed by Rui Ma, the fund’s China investment partner. Ma had disclosed these details to DEALSTREETASIA on November 9 during the UNICEF global innovation summit in Helsinki (Finaland), when answering questions related to Vietnam.
She also confirmed the DEALSTREETASIA report that the US-based VC had more than doubled its SEA fund to $22.1 million, and also added that the vehicle had seen its final close at this amount. A final close implies reaching the threshold, where no Limited Partners will be able to join the vehicle.
This portal had also reported that new investors in its 500 Durians fund were Kuala Lumpur-based Genting Bhd, that owns Southeast Asia’s largest casino operator ($3 million) and South Korea’s GS Home Shopping Inc.
Since the launch of its first fund in this region in 2013, it has closed around 45 deals, via this vehicle, accounting for a third of 500 Startups’ investment in Asia, and it has focused on e-commerce marketplaces and innovative businesses.
When asked on the Vietnam fund, the company in an email response said: “This is not confirmed. We have not closed a fund for Vietnam or publicly announced any fund for Vietnam as of today”.
According to Ma, 500 Startups had also been bringing people from the Silicon Valley on visiting trips to different regions of the world, and expects to replicate the same in East Asia, in the next couple of months.
In May this year, 500 Startups had beefed up its team in the region, and had hired angel investor and former INSEAD Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Arnaud Bonzom, as director of special projects, for Southeast Asia, and also got on board Vishal Harnal, formerly a senior associate with law firm Drew & Napier, as an investment manager.