Vietnam 2017: Top startups to watch out for

The young Vietnamese startup space is coming of age if their mushrooming growth and ability to garner institutional funding is an indicator.

Vietnamese startups scored 67 venture capital funding rounds in 2015 (including undisclosed investments), an increase of 130 per cent over 2014. While data on 2016 funding is yet to be released, startup observers said, the number is much higher coupled with larger deal values.

According to data compiled by DEALSTREETASIA, based on announced funding rounds and M&A activity in the local startup scene, 2016 saw over 30 transactions compared to 22 deals the previous year,

Vietnam also hosted several events to showcase new startups with potential. Concluding 2016, the Vietnam Startup Festival on December 29 – themed ‘The Pioneer Dream’ – featured promising startups, both bootstrapped and VC-backed companies.

We handpicked some startups from the winners for this year’s to-watch-out-for list.

Designbold

A “Photoshop” for amateur designers, Designbold was launched in October 2016 but immediately caught the headlines as the successor of 2014’s phenomenon – Flappy Bird.

Targeting the global market from day one, Designbold recorded $130,000 revenue within only two weeks after its launch. This is a rare success in Vietnam.

The company has had some 40,000 cumulative users with 52 per cent returning visitors. The monthly users count at 8,000, an executive with the firm told DEALSTREETASIA.

Founded by Dinh Viet Hung, also the founder of template provider Joomlart and a seasoned angel investor, Designbold won ‘Best Startup of the Year’ – an award voted by a selective number of other startups, ecosystem builders and investors.

GotIt!

US-based edtech startup GotIt!, which announced its $9 million series A funding in April 2016, is considered a Vietnam-connected startup as the company’s founder, Hung Tran, is originally Vietnamese, and it has a back-end team in the country.

While the country is not yet a market that GotIt! targets, the story of this startup has become an encouraging source for the local startup community. Tran has participated in a lot of support activities for young Vietnamese founders.

Meanwhile, GotIt! competed with Designbold in the above mentioned award and became the first runner-up.

Also read: US education startup Gotit!, that has ops in Vietnam, snaps up over $9m Series A

WeFit

Aiming to be Classpass or KFit of Vietnam, this four-month-old startup might be one of the first tech startups to tap the $60-million fitness market in Vietnam. This market is seeing a 20 per cent growth every year, according to Khoi Nguyen, founder of WeFit.

Nguyen was a Topica Founder Institute’s founder in residence before he started WeFit.

“There are signals that show this model works,” Nguyen told DEALSTREETASIA. “It might not work with hardcore gymnasts, but it creates more options for beginners, who are increasing and willing to pay for such services.”

WeFit claims around 500 paid members and 150 studio partners in Hanoi. The startup is planning a foray into Ho Chi Minh City.

Giaohangnhanh

The logistics startup was founded in 2012 and is backed by Seedcom, a local venture builder, who is also the investor in a lot of other well-known startups and retail chains such as e-commerce site Tiki, Shopify-like Haravan, The Coffee House and Pizza 4P’s.

Along with WeFit, the company was recently awarded ‘Potential Startup’. Giaohangnhanh has become one of the most-used logistics services in Vietnam. Thus, it is poised for a greater growth potential because the logistics industry is still underdeveloped.

The e-commerce ecosystem in the country is impeded by such factors as uncommon modern payment methods and customer trust. However, e-commerce business is expected to improve, driven by a large population who are gaining higher incomes and tend to go online.

Also read:

Vietnam’s small e-commerce players are gearing up to face Alibaba’s big foray

Vietnam 2015: E-commerce scene sees shutdowns & failures even as more investors rush in

Vietnam logistics sector to grow 20-24% on back of surging trade, e-commerce

Vietnamese startups close over 60 deals in 2015

Vietnam sees two dozen startup deals from seed to Series C in 2016