Silicon Valley-based accelerator and venture capital fund 500 Startups, which has made four investments in Vietnamese startups, has got on board Binh Tran and Eddie Thai as venture partners for the local market
The announcement comes just a month after 500 Startups launched its growth-stage acceleration service “Distro Dojo” in Malaysia, in cooperation with the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC). Also last month, the US fund announced to increase its $10 million fund for Southeast Asia, 500 Durians, by $5 million more.
Earlier in April, it introduced the $10 million micro-fund 500 TukTuks for Thailand.
500 Startups sees Vietnam as a large, fast-growing, and under-served market – especially in the seed stage venture capital stage.
With a population, which is young and robust, with more than 40 million internet users, it is one of the world’s fastest growing economies since 1990 and has been Apple’s fastest growing market worldwide, said Khailee Ng, managing partner of 500 Startups.
“For us, it was never a question of ‘is Vietnam ready as a market?’, but rather ‘are we ready for Vietnam as a market?’, and today, we are making our first of many moves to be ready,” he said.
In an interaction with DEALSTREETASIA in May, Ng unveiled that 500 Startups has invested in four Vietnamese startups, including social app Tappy, which was acquired by the Silicon Valley cloud-based social games platform Weeby.co; healthcare app for mothers and babies Babyme; online ticket platform Ticketbox; and lifestyle and event media Pose.com.vn. Ng also told us the fund targeted to invest in 17 more companies in Vietnam. However, according to the latest announcement regarding the appointment of Thai and Tran, the targeted number has increased to 20, in the next 12 months.
Having realised the opportunities in Vietnam, 500 Startups has also planned to team up with the country’s leading tech company FPT Corporation in building its FPT Ventures arm, according to FPT chairman Truong Gia Binh.
Binh Tran possesses more than 20 years of experience in tech. He has gone through four startups, with his latest win being Klout, the Kleiner Perkins-VC backed social marketing startup that was acquired at a $200 million valuation by Lithium Technologies in 2014.
He will work out of both San Francisco and Ho Chi Minh City, allowing him to access to the Vietnamese-American founders who are building startups, as well as supporting teams with global aspirations. Tran began angel investing three years ago and also advises several US startups, including Chute, MirusSearch, and Hired.
Meanwhile, Eddie Thai, who is in the Forbes list of most influential Vietnamese under-30, brings experience in tech, media, and telecommunications both in the US and Vietnam. After several years working on strategy and finance for US Fortune 500, CJ CGV, and other large corporations, last year he shifted back to startups, advising various Vietnamese teams including Chon.vn (which was acquired by VinEcom – the Vingroup’s e-commerce platform that has launched a beta version) and Pose.vn, a portfolio company of 500 Startups. According to Forbes, Thai’s Vietnam Accelerator Fund is the first Vietnamese startups fund to get support from 500 Startups.
“Eddie will provide 500 with on-the-ground deal sourcing, selection, and support. He received degrees from Harvard and Yale,” the US fund said in a statement.