Vietnamese VC firm ESP Capital eyes foray into Indonesia next year

Photo: Peter Hershey/Unsplash

Vietnam’s homegrown venture capital firm ESP Capital is looking to expand its geographic focus to Indonesia and Malaysia markets by the end of next year, according to a top executive of the firm.

“ESP Capital is keen on investing in startups which have similar models with the firm’s portfolio companies to help them build a better position in the Southeast Asia market,” Le Hoang Uyen Vy (Vy Le), General Partner of ESP Capital, told DEALSTREETASIA in an interaction.

The VC firm’s current portfolio comprises consumer-focused startups and it expects its expansion strategy to be no different.

“ESP Capital will be deploying capital in startups engaged in sectors such as housing, health, lifestyle and travel. Indonesia will be the priority for the firm’s overseas expansion plan,” she added.

ESP Capital has invested in 16 startups since the launch of its $20-million debut fund in 2017. Its portfolio companies include Canavi (jobs), Jamja (O2O commerce), Homedy (real estate), Luxstay (hospitality), Cooky (lifestyle), WeFit (fitness), Uiza (livestream), eDoctor (healthcare) and Ecomobi (social selling platform).

The VC firm is now training its sights on startups in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) sector, especially those catering to retail and consumer-related industries.

“ESP Capital is keen on deep tech, especially AI,” Vy said, adding that the firm is likely to close an investment in AI-focused startup this year without revealing further details.

Vy, who was the CEO at startup Adayroi.com before joining ESP Capital, has previously held leadership roles at snack chain Aiya and fashion and beauty-focused e-commerce platform Chon.vn.

In her personal capacity, she has also invested in Xtreme Studio, a virtual reality (VR) company in Vietnam. “VR is still a new field in the world and this is an opportunity for Vietnam to shorten the technology gap. If you want to develop into a hub that has key points, VR is a potential industry. I believe the next wave will shift from mobile to VR,” she said.

The VR market, she conceded, may still be too nascent for ESP Capital to make investments in. A total of 8.5 million VR glasses were sold worldwide last year.

ESP Capital was one of the signatories that committed to investing $450 million in Vietnamese startups over the next three years as part of a new agreement signed between the Vietnamese government and local and international VC firms. The firm has earmarked $10 million for this initiative.

Most recently, ESP Capital and South Korean investor Nextrans announced an unspecified investment in social selling platform Ecomobi. Earlier, the VC firm and local venture firm Founders Capital had invested $500,000 in the Vietnamese food recipe portal Cooky.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.