Microsoft, Singapore VC Expara, CLAS launch startup accelerator in Vietnam

Vu Minh Tri, general director of Microsoft Vietnam. Visual from the company's website.

Vietnamese startups stand a chance to mop up funding of up to $500,000 from Microsoft Vietnam, Singapore-based venture capital firm Expara and Ho Chi Minh City-based Customer Loyalty and Acquisition Services (CLAS), as the three launched their CLAS Expara Startup Accelerator programmed earlier this week.

The programme is receiving applications until November 20 this year and will grant sponsorship to eight startup teams.

Joining the 120-day initiative, startups will enjoy free services of using Microsoft technologies through the giant’s Bizspark and Bizspark Plus packages, which amounts to $147,000 within three years. Through these packages, Microsoft Vietnam has been supporting over 100 local startups with free access to coding tools and other technical products.

In addition, Microsoft Vietnam will co-sell with startups, whose solutions meet the needs of its customers.

CLAS and Expara will facilitate the selected startups with consulting services, fundraising, and hands-on expertise in realising ideas into businesses. CLAS itself was founded from the SHTP Microsoft Vietnam Innovation Centre, aiming to make the most use of the state-of-the-art internet and mobile technology to serve businesses’ marketing requirements.

Under the initiative, Expara Ventures III Fund, which is designated to target seed to series A investments in scalable companies in Southeast Asia, will invest $10,000 in promising startups after a mid-point review and as much as $500,000 in successful graduates after the programme’s Demo Day.

Vu Minh Tri, general director of Microsoft Vietnam, reportedly said during the launching ceremony: “Vietnam is an important emerging market for Microsoft in Southeast Asia with great growth potential with its large, young, proactive, talented population. We believe that Vietnamese enterprises have many creative ideas, and the things they need are capital, market and specialised knowledge. Therefore, we are striving to empower Vietnamese startups to transform the future and continue contributing to the national economic growth through this programme”.

For Douglas Abrams, Expara CEO, Vietnam is one of the most exciting startup and venture capital markets in South East Asia that the firm is looking at. “Microsoft and CLAS are absolutely the best partners we could have to launch our first accelerator in Vietnam.  We are looking forward to helping Vietnamese startups to scale and to contributing to the growth of the enterprise ecosystem in Vietnam,” he said.

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