Vietnam accelerator VIISA launches first portfolio of startups

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Vietnam’s latest accelerator VIISA – a partnership between Dragon Capital, FPT Corporation and Hanwha Investment – has started investing $15,000 in each of its portfolio startups.

The accelerator launched its first batch of eight startups on January 19, shortlisted from more than 150 companies from Southeast Asia.

Promising teams are poised for a $200,000 follow-on funding, the programme said in a statement.

The $8-million accelerator was introduced in September 2016 as the joint effort of Vietnam’s leading IT group FPT and Dragon Capital, the longest-standing fund manager in the country, which then attracted South Korea’s Hanwha Group to participate.

Before kicking off the inaugural batch, VIISA hired Adrian Tan, former entrepreneur-in-residence of Singapore-based incubator JFDI, as programme director.

JFDI closed its programme last year. Tan moved to Vietnam as he was attracted by the abundance of tech talent in this country. “Vietnam has also seen its diaspora returning to do business. These are key components of a striving economy,” Tan told DEALSTREETASIA.

Vietnam has seen a lot of buzz in mobile technology, according to the director.

The country is too early for disruptive technology given the nascent stage of its startup ecosystem. However, VIISA’s first batch has gathered startups like Butterfly Salon, which applies data science, computer vision and AI in the beauty segment, and Wisepass  – which is disrupting the business model of lifestyle.

“It is disruptive in a sense that the startups are giving a twist in this emerging market,” Tan said.

Other startups under VIISA’s first batch include marketplace Fastsell, KFit-like app WeFit, legal platform Lexis, wireless solution provider Honeynet, marketing automation startup Usedata and Singapore’s car repair service app Fixir.

As a former programme director at JFDI, Tan leverages his network to make connection between Vietnamese startups and other stakeholders. The operation of VIISA is also augmented by the networks of its partners.

“We think we can bring a lot more to the table. And it’s always good to have competition to give startups better term sheet, deals, network and exposure,” he said.

With a regional focus, VIISA aims to help Vietnamese startups create greater impact and regional startups expand into Vietnam.

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