Malaysia’s accelerator and early-stage investor 1337 Ventures on Wednesday announced the launch of its Alpha Startups programme in Vietnam, in a strategic partnership with co-working space Dreamplex and the Mekong Business Initiative, as a first step to make investment in the country.
The first bootcamp batch will be held in Ho Chi Minh City on May 16, while it is already taking applications. Another batch is expected to run in Hanoi in October.
As the programme starts, up to three cohorts will have access to mentorship, office space, facilities and total micro-investment of $25,000, as well as credits and support from 1337 Ventures’ portfolio partner, Amazon Web Services.
The announcement came less than two months after the Malaysian accelerator introduced Alpha Startups in Indonesia.
“With our entry into the Vietnam market, Alpha Startups is proud to announce a strong startup network within Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam for alumni to benefit from. The bigger network will solidify Alpha Startups regional positioning as regional startups & investors use this platform as a means of deal flow, hiring key talent & potential geographical market expansion,” said Bikesh Lakhmichand, CEO and founder of 1337 Ventures.
Lakhmichand sees the Vietnamese startup space ripe for Alpha Startups to come in due to the recent initiatives of the local government to build a sustainable and advanced ecosystem.
The ease of doing business indicator of Vietnam is even better than Indonesia and the home market of 1337 Ventures. In addition, the cost of cash burn rate for a startup founder is relatively lower than other neighbouring countries.
Investors for the first Vietnam batch include co-working space Dreamplex, which is looking to expand into an accelerator model via its new division called DreamLab. Dreamplex has also recently teamed up with South Korean conglomerate Hanwha for the diversified group’s Dreamplus Accelerator programme.
The co-working space, opened last year, is a host to around 70 startup teams and is looking to inaugurate the second facility within the next three months.
Meanwhile, the other partner, the Mekong Business Initiative, is a cooperative effort of the Asian Development Bank and the Government of Australia to support private sector growth in Cambodia, Lao, Myanmar and Vietnam.
“We are delighted to support 1337 Ventures’ Alpha Startups programme, along with Dreamplex. We hope the experience of Alpha Startups encourages dynamic young business people to follow their dreams,” said the regional project founder and project lead Dominic Mellor.
Vietnam is one of the four countries of focus for 1337 Ventures this year, besides Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. The accelerator has made pre-seed funding in 23 Malaysian startups and has expanded its portfolio to six others in the Philippines and Indonesia.
While a lot of seed and series A investors are showing interest in Vietnam, local startups lack the boost from in the early stages. 1337 Ventures’ play adds up to the current efforts of local incubators such as Vietnam Silicon Valley, Topica Founder Institute and HATCH!, and the network of angel investors to spur a more vibrant startup ecosystem.