Vietnam has welcomed a new $20 million homegrown venture capital firm called ESP Capital.
ESP Capital is incorporated in Singapore, but based in Vietnam and primarily makes investments into Vietnamese startups. However, the fund might also consider opportunities in other Southeast Asian countries, Nguyen Ngoc Nam, co-founder and CEO of ESP Capital, told DEALSTREETASIA.
Officially launched in June, the homegrown VC fund has invested in three early-stage startups, including rental company Luxstay, real estate media Homedy.vn and flash deal website JamJa.
ESP Capital is also sealing a couple of other deals and expects to close around 10 transactions in 2017, according to its CEO.
Nam said the fund acted as a connector between the portfolio startups and follow-on investors. “ESP Capital’s founders have established a long-term relationship and cooperation with many other well-known funds in Japan and Southeast Asia, which will be an invaluable support for startups looking for scale in the region.”
The firm targets investments in pre-seed and seed rounds ranging from $50,000 to as much as $300,000. “The fund’s investments will consist of more than just financial support. Founded by many successful entrepreneurs and overseas Vietnamese, ESP Capital will be a close investment partner and provide companies it selected full access to the high-profile networks and mentorship in order to build long term value together,” said Nam, explaining that Vietnamese startups are full of potential but still lack support in terms of both capital and hands-on experience.
Prior to ESP Capital, Vietnam had what might be considered the first homegrown VC fund launched by tech conglomerate FPT Corporation in May 2015. FPT Ventures has invested in more than 10 local firms in various verticals, including e-commerce, advertising, cyber security, edtech and lifestyle. Most of the companies were picked from its accelerator programme VIISA, co-managed by investment group Dragon Capital.
Later in March 2016, 500 Startup Vietnam Fund was announced with a $10 million corpus, which has also funded over 10 startups.
Early this year, Innovatube joined the club, kicking off a $5 million pre-seed fund to support frontier tech and re-positioning itself as a venture capital firm from being an incubator.