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.
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