“What’s important for VCs is not male- or female-founded startups, but quality startups”

Dao Lan Huong, Teky Academy

Dao Lan Huong is the founder of Teky Academy, the first professional technology and STEAM academy for kids in Vietnam. She has held many important positions at PeaceSoft, Nexttech Group and has also been an angel investor.

Teky Academy raised a bridge round of Series A in January 2020.

Dao Lan Huong was among the 12 women (co-)founders interviewed for our Women in Startups: The SE Asia Edition report. She shared her experience as a woman entrepreneur. Edited excerpts:

Do you think it’s hard to get external funding as a solo woman founder? Why or why not? 

In my opinion, there are two main reasons that make it difficult for female founders to access funding sources:

First, compared to men, women do not raise their voice about themselves and what they have been doing. Meanwhile, I have seen many men talk passionately and speak loudly about their business even when they have not yet launched projects or products. Raising our voice helps women increase the exposure of the business to funds/VCs. Women seem to focus too much on the current situation and do not clarify the vision so much. This may be questioned by VCs. Men always mention the vision before action.

Secondly, there are not many women in technology or they have little knowledge about technology, so it is difficult to catch the trends and empower their business with technology.

The share of startups with women founders has increased slightly in SE Asia over the last decade. Does it reflect what you are observing, at least for Vietnam?

Over the past two years, I have also been a regular participant as a mentor and speaker at startup incubators, investment forums, and I am also an angel investor, the founder of an angel fund named VIC (vic.partners) and Next100, so I have many opportunities to connect with young startup groups at the seed stage.

It is clear that there are more female founders interested in starting a business, especially in the areas where women have many strengths such as education, children, health, products for family, fashion, beauty, etc. 

At VIC, two out of nine projects we have invested in are by women founders; I think this rate also reflects the fact that female startups are still not many but going up.

Do you think that participating in entrepreneurs’ ecosystems has helped?

The role and value of the business ecosystem is clear. They provide not only financial support, but also business leverage, marketing support, on-site and on-going advisory resources. These help the startup go to market as quickly as possible at a very cost-effective approach.

In Vietnam, we could see the trend of entrepreneurs’ ecosystems that do venture-built models or play VC roles to create their own start-up incubators, for both increasing the value of their ecosystem, and creating new opportunities for businesses, even helping to nurture innovation culture in their matured enterprises – a hidden but actually very important meaning for any business.

Do you see a future where there are more women entrepreneurs and VCs?

Of course, both of these are true. Women are becoming more active in this era, and are encouraged to confidently commit themselves to create more female startups, which in turn will create more successful female entrepreneurs. And what’s important for VCs is not male or female startups; but quality startups with great potential for growth.  

To read more such interviews and access data like the share of capital that flowed to women-led startups in SE Asia, refer to our Research & Analytics report.

If you are premium news subscriber, upgrade your subscription to include DealStreetAsia’s Research and Analytics to access our entire set of reports, data-led stories, and deal monitors. Our R&A subscribers will also get access to our upcoming database of company financials and cap tables based on ACRA filings. Still not sure? Opt for a one-month trial for our R&A offerings for $299.

DealStreetAsia is offering free Asia PE-VC Summit 2021 tickets to women executives in the PE-VC tech industry. Are you interested? Fill out the form here.  We will also select 50 registrants from Women in PE, VC & Tech to get a one-month subscription to DealStreetAsia premium content for only $1.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.