After India, UberEXCHANGE enters Vietnam with startup mentorship programme

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Uber has launched its startup mentorship programme UberEXCHANGE in Vietnam, the ride-hailing app’s first initiative in Southeast Asia and the second globally after India.

Uber has started inviting applications for the programme and will accept entries from now till April 2017. The programme will end in August

The best startups emerging from the initiative will receive VND100 million ($4,400) perks, while Uber will also sponsor a trip for two people to Silicon Valley to interact with its top executives and potential investors.

“Both India and Vietnam have good tech integrity. The two countries have set up their own action plans for startups, and both boast a strong tech talent pool. This is the right time for Uber to step in,” Dang Viet Dzung, general manager of Uber Vietnam, told DEALSTREETASIA via a telephonic interview.

Vietnam is trying to build a robust ecosystem and a large number of startups, reportedly at 1,500-2,000 companies, have sprung up in the country. However, a lot of the current pitching competitions for startups are happening as a trend and a tool for branding of the organisers.

Meanwhile, despite the advantage of being very good at engineering, Vietnamese startups have been struggling to build market-fit products.

“Uber aims to add into this chain more coaching and mentorship offerings, which will answer the business problems startup will encounter,” said Dzung. “Our mentors will be not only the seniors within Uber but also executives from big tech corporations like Google and Facebook, as well as successful global startups. They have gone through different roles at various business phases, from the bootstrapping phase to the IPO stage.”

He added that Uber was trying to bring the global experience to help local startups make the right decisions during their business cycle.

Only a few companies in Vietnam can make it through beyond the series B stage, while the number of funded startups from angel to pre-series B rounds has been increasing over the past years. This indicates that Vietnam has a good start, but there is a lack of sustainability, according to Dzung.

“Uber aims to be every step of the way with the Vietnamese youth as they start their careers, help startup teams to improve their mindsets, as well as to work out strategies in designing and developing their projects, and provide the momentum to help them break through, press forward and become exemplary businesses representing a pioneering generation, all to help launch Vietnam as a leading startup nation in the region, in line with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s vision”, said Mike Brown, Uber director for Asia Pacific, at the UberEXCHANGE launch on March 14.

The programme will cover talks between local startups with Uber’s mentors in addition to its main purpose of tackling specific issues faced by a startup through one-on-one coaching.

The mentorship initiative is a joint effort between Uber, the Vietnam Youth Union and the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

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