500 Startups, the US early-stage venture capital firm that launched a $10-million Vietnam fund earlier this year, has closed investments in a dozen startups in the southeast Asian rising economy even as it hopes the run rate will continue going forward, according to the firm’s local partners.
The firm’s investment partners have indicated at a possibility of enlarging the 500 Vietnam Fund: “We think there is a ton of value to be unlocked in Vietnamese startups. There is a lot more capacity for investment than just $10 million from our fund. Our job in the near-term is to work with not just our portfolio companies but many players in the ecosystem to demonstrate that value, through larger and more numerous investment rounds and exits.”
While the fund does not disclose investment terms, it typically puts in an average $30,000-50,000 across each startup in Vietnam. However, there have been instances where the US investor has injected higher amounts in the region of $100,000 to as high as $250,000 on specific deals, a source familiar with the matter said.
“Most of the checks will be in the $25,000-100,000 range and our average will be $50,000,” Eddie Thai, one of the US firm’s two local partners, told DEALSTREETASIA.
500 Startups’ other investment partner in Vietnam is Binh Tran, a technologist and four-time founder.
Based on the firm’s earlier announcement that its $10 million 500 Vietnam Fund would be targeting as many as 150 early stage companies, and the average number that Eddie revealed, a rough estimate pegs the US fund’s total investment in the region at less than $1 million.
Its partners did not comment on the calculation. “We let the founders decide whether and how to share information about our investment,” Eddie said in an email interaction.
While 500 Startups said the Vietname team will continue to assess the local market to evolve its strategy, it has already planned to expand the Thailand-dedicated 500 Tuktuks fund size from the current $12 million to $15 million or to even setting up a second vehicle.
As the $12 million has been committed, with each seeding-stage company receiving $100,000 to $250,000, the Thai unit will potentially raise a new fund of up to $30 million to target a total of 60 startups by 2018.
500 Startups had already added $5 million more for its 500 Durians micro fund meant for the Southeast Asian region, where Vietnam and Thailand were also targeted markets.
500 Startup’ Vietnamese portfolio companies include both startups focusing on the local market and those who are Vietnamese teams serving other markets. The industries that they are present are various, from ecommerce, to edtech, fintech, and video tech.
“So far in 2016, we have continued to be energetic in developing and promoting Vietnam as an attractive source for technology startups,” the partners said.
They have played a part in leveraging the ecosystem by working with the Vietnamese government, as well as international organizations like the World Economic Forum, to host, and present the Vietnamese startup scene through, more than 20 events across the globe.
“This is just the start. We look forward to working with more ecosystem partners for the rest of 2016 and beyond,” they added.
500 Startups has strengthened its presence in this country by launching a Vietnamese version portal at 500startups.com.vn.
The site displayed 10 invested companies that Eddie and Binh have closed the deals on behalf of 500 Startups. They include:
2- Ticketing service Ticketbox (another investor in the firm is Bangkok-based e-book platform Ookbee)
3 – Wifi password sharing startup Wifichua (FreeWifi)
4 – Price comparison site ChonGiaDung (ThePriceisRight)
5 – Automating marketing platform Beeketing
7 – LeFlair, an online shopping platform dedicated to luxury products
10 – On-demand grocery shopping and delivery service Chopp