Country Guide

Vietnam

Vietnam

Guest Editor

Doan Kieu My (Kimiko)

CMO at VinFast and Founder at YellowBlocks

Kieu My is a tech ecosystem superconnector from Vietnam, supporting 4 governments (Vietnam, Australia, Singapore, Austria) to enhance the tech ecosystem. She is a transformational leader with a proven track record of generating revenue growth for international companies across multiple industries. Her passion is to drive business growth, creating brand values, and promote innovation across the company. In 2018, she founded YellowBlocks - the first consulting firm in Vietnam for frontier technologies. YellowBlocks then quickly became the trusted partner for more than 120 organizations in over 40 countries.

In 2019, Kimiko was nominated as the “Top 20 Young Leaders in Australia - Vietnam", as well as being the youngest Board member in the Innovation Council of Vietnam - Austria, the leader for Frontier Tech sector for Vietnam Ministry of Science and Technology, and one of “Top 10 Most Influential Women in Technology 2020” by Analytics Insight.


Guest editors are local ecosystem leaders: successful founders, investors, or thought leaders. Have someone in mind? Nominate a country guest editor.

Disclaimer: all content within the Startup Ecosystem Summary and Editor’s Guide sections is written by and reflects the personal perspective of the guest editor. The guest editor is not responsible for content within the Country Snapshot and Community sections, as much of this content is compiled from external sources and does not necessarily reflect the guest editor’s view.

Startup ecosystem summary

Key Startup Cities

Ho Chi Minh, Ha Noi, Da Nang

Connected Country Ecosystems

Singapore, Japan, United States

Differentiators

  • Big consumer population of 100 million people
  • Middle-income and tech-forward young population
  • Strong and affordable technical talent
  • Government focus on national digital strategy
  • Destination for investment

Challenges

  • A fragmented ecosystem
  • Information overflow with lots of noise
  • Slow-moving regulatory reform
  • Lack of mature national startup initiatives

Editor's Guide

Introduction

We are moving to Vietnam startup’s golden era with the two main growth pillars. Vietnam is the new manufacturing hub, moving toward its National Industry 4.0. The country’s demographics are excellent – Vietnam has considerable technological expertise in software development, with a young large population of digitally active consumers (Vietnam ranked first in Southeast Asia with 41% of new digital consumers due to COVID-19). The twin growth pillars of manufacturing and engineering talent make Vietnam unique.

The Internet ecosystem in Vietnam has witnessed its record growth even in the post-Covid world with Fintech, E-commerce/Food Delivery and Healthtech as the key industries.

Moreover, Vietnam’s single-party, communist government provides a strategic direction and relative political stability. The challenge left now for the country is the complex web of regulations and the fragmented ecosystem, lacking collaboration between different key stakeholders in the ecosystem.

Outlook

Vietnam is the third-largest consumer (with a large digitally active consumer) market in Southeast Asia. The country has a sizable labor force and favorable demographics – the population has reached 97 million, of which 70% are under 35 years of age. In 2018, Google and Temasek described Vietnam’s internet economy as akin to “a dragon being unleashed,” predicting a value of US$33 billion in 2025. Hamada Kazuyuki, in his ‘Future Power’ book, predicted that Vietnam would be one of the world’s top 20 economies by 2030. In 2020, the Vietnamese government released the national digital transformation strategy from 2020 – 2030 to develop more than 1.5 million digital workers and 100,000 digital companies by 2030. More investment companies and initiatives are referring to Vietnam as the next destination after Indonesia in SEA. The main challenges impacting this growth potential include:

Global mindset and entrepreneurship skills
While local startups create very good products technology-wise, there is a lack of skills in product-market fit mindset and entrepreneurship. Although Vietnam is in the top three in Southeast Asia in terms of number of startups, not many of these enterprises are equipped with the necessary skills to develop a sustainable business model, or to pitch for investment. As a result, many local startups have limited opportunities to connect with the regional ecosystem.

Fragmented ecosystem
Despite increasing support from the Government, the ecosystem still operates in silos. To increase efficiency, there needs to be more cooperation among different stakeholders, broader institutional capacity building, and support from the Government in terms of incentives, accessible financial resources and simplified Government administration.

Featured Tech Startups

Editor’s choice of the country’s top 10 emerging tech startups.

Startup Showcase

Editor’s pick of which ‘Featured Startup’ is especially worth following and why.

Established in August 2016, Base.vn is known to be one of the pioneers in the field of building a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business management platform in Vietnam. The solutions from Base.vn range from work and performance management, information and communication management, human management and development to customer and business management. In more than one application, these solutions are grouped to solve different enterprise problems. Base's applications have been used daily by more than 5000 customers in Vietnam in different industries including Banking-Finance, E-commerce, F&B, and Education with leading corporates: VIB, ACB, ABBank, VinCommerce, McDonal’s, 7eleven, Pizza 4P, The Coffee House, Decathlon. To date, Base.vn is perceived to be the number 1 enterprise platform with 5 million launched projects, 13 million monthly used times and created 12 million jobs. In May 2021, Base.vn announced their strategic cooperation with Vietnamese technology giant FPT Corporation under a non-disclosure M&A deal.

Focus Industries

Editor’s choice of the industries with the most potential for technology disruption and growth.

AgtechAgriculture has played a significant part in the country’s economy. In recent years, with the growth of frontier technologies, Vietnam’s government has fostered the development of high-tech agriculture to make breakthroughs in farming productivity and improving the competitive edge of agricultural products in both the domestic and foreign markets. The Prime Minister has also approved a master plan on hi-tech agriculture zones through 2020 with an orientation to 2030.
EdtechThe education sector plays an important part in realizing the digital transformation agenda of the Government of Vietnam. This sector remains attractive for foreign investors as the government attempts to ease regulations (Decree 86 and Decree 99).
Emerging TechnologiesEmerging technologies like AI, robotics and smart systems are the most important industry. They support the growth of other sectors, and set the tone for Vietnam‘s ecosystem development. Among the emerging technologies, blockchain is growing rapidly.

Talent

Editor’s perspective of the maturity level of talent in the ecosystem.

  • Technical TalentAdvanced
  • Marketing TalentModerate
  • Experienced TalentUndeveloped
  • International TalentModerate

Interested in becoming more involved in this ecosystem and connecting with local ecosystem leaders? Let us know.

Community

Active Investors

500 Startups Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City): 500 Startups Vietnam is a US$14 million fund to invest in promising Vietnam-connected startups.

CyberAgent Capital Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City): Cyberagent Capital commits deeply as partners of entrepreneurs from the seed stage to the early stage of business acceleration. It even supports and invests in business ideas still in the process of preparing to establish enterprises.

FPT Ventures (Hanoi): FPT Ventures is an accelerator and venture capital arm of FPT Corporation. The firm targets to make seed and series A investments in Vietnamese technology based start-up companies. It is based in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Golden Gate Ventures Vietnam (Singapore): Golden Gate Ventures is a venture capital firm investing across Southeast Asia. Since 2011, the firm has invested in over 30 companies across more than 7 countries in Asia. The firm invests in internet & mobile startups across many sectors, including e-commerce, payments, marketplaces, mobile applications, and SaaS platforms.

Mekong Capital (Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi): Private equity firm investing exclusively in Vietnam.

Monk's Hill Ventures Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City): Founded in 2014 by entrepreneurs Peng T. Ong and Kuo-Yi Lim, MHV is a venture capital firm investing in early-stage tech companies, primarily Series A, in Southeast Asia. Backed by institutional investors and family offices worldwide, MHV works with great entrepreneurs to use technology to improve the lives of millions of people in the region.

Vietnam Innovative Startups Accelerator (VIISA) (Ho Chi Minh City): Vietnam Innovative Startups Accelerator (VIISA) is a business acceleration program and a seed-stage investment holding that invests to build global-ready startups in Vietnam.

VinaCapital Ventures (Ho Chi Minh City): Seeded by VinaCapital Group, VinaCapital Ventures is a US$100 million Vietnam-focused venture capital platform.

incubators

Business Startup Support Center (BSSC) (Ho Chi Minh City): Established under Decision No. 4532/QD-UBND of the People’s Committee of HCMC as a non-profit organization. BSSC is the only organization in Vietnam to offer a tailored support program to early-stage startups, including financing, material facilities, consultation, training and trade promotion, among others.

Saigon Hi-Tech Business Incubator (SHBI) (Ho Chi Minh City): SHBI is a non-profit subsidiary of the Board of Management of SHTP, established under the Decision of the People’s Committee of HCM City in August 2006 with the mission of promoting entrepreneurship, incubating young technology enterprises, helping them overcome the difficulties and manage a sustainable growth.

accelerators

Startup Wheel (Ho Chi Minh City): Startup Wheel is a 6-month startup competition, run from March to August annually for startups and young entrepreneurs all around the world. First launched by Business Startup Support Centre (BSSC) and Young Businesspeople Association (YBA), Startup Wheel is now the largest and most prestigious annual startup competition in Vietnam for young generations who are passionate about startup.

Vietnam Innovative Startups Accelerator (VIISA) (Ho Chi Minh City): Vietnam Innovative Startups Accelerator (VIISA) is a business acceleration program and a seed-stage investment holding that invests to build global-ready startups in Vietnam.

Zone Startups Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City)

Startups Raising Capital
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Startups Hiring
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Coworking Spaces/Hubs

Circo (Ho Chi Minh City)

Dreamplex (Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi)

Toong Vietnam (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang)

WeWork Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City)

conferences

Techfest Vietnam (Hanoi): The largest annual event for the innovative startup community in the country, organized by the Ministry of Science and Technology of Vietnam.

meetups

Saigon Developer Group (Ho Chi Minh City)

Government Programs

Saigon Innovation Hub (SIHUB): A program to develop a startup ecosystem supporting small and medium-sized enterprises to enhance their competitive capacity and global integration. The program’s core goal is to encourage innovative startups via scientific research and development. The city established Saigon Innovation Hub (SIHUB), administered by DOST. SIHUB was inaugurated in 2016, creating a co-working space to support the development of the local startup community. SIHUB’s mission is to support initiatives for innovation and startup businesses, acting as a catalyst and enabling the local government to provide a public platform for startup enterprises. SIHUB’s strategy and activities are in line with the city’s key industrial sectors: Food processing, electronics and IT, and mechanical engineering

The National Program 844 (ISEV): The Initiative for Startup Ecosystem in Vietnam (ISEV) was approved by the Prime Minister in Decision 844 signed on the 18th of May, 2016 and assigned the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) to head its implementation.

Vietnam Silicon Valley (VSV): An initiative started by the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Vietnamese Government directed at stimulating the growth of technology Startups in Vietnam.

Non-Government Organizations

WISE Vietnam: Women’s Initiative for Start-ups and Entrepreneurship (WISE) supported by the Australian Aid and Asian Development Bank (ADB), Swiss EP and Saigon Innovation Hub (SIHUB), is a network of high profile startup ecosystem builders supporting women startup leaders. WISE’s mission is to create equal opportunities for Vietnamese women to succeed in business.

Country Snapshot

Economy

Startup funding
Startup funding
US$328 million (2020)
Standard of living
Standard of living
Global rank: N/A
Innovation
Innovation
Global rank: 42 (2020)
Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship
Global rank: 87 (2023)
Annual GDP growth
Annual GDP growth
8.0% (2022)
(Global avg. 3.0%)
Ease of doing business
Ease of doing business
Global rank: 70 (2019)
Ease of starting a business
Ease of starting a business
Global rank: 115
Research and development
Research and development
0.4% of GDP
(Global avg. 2.3%)
Contract enforcement
Contract enforcement
Global rank: 68

Sources

Startup Funding: Cento Ventures
STANDARD OF LIVING: International Monetary Fund - GDP per capita (PPP)
INNOVATION: Global Innovation Index
ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Global Entrepreneurship Index
ANNUAL GDP GROWTH: World Bank
EASE OF DOING BUSINESS: World Bank
EASE OF STARTING A BUSINESS: World Bank
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: World Bank
CONTRACT ENFORCEMENT: World Bank

*Updated with latest available data based on listed source.

Society

Population
Population
98.9 million (2023)
Government
Government
Communist
Stability
Stability
Global rank: 55 (2020)
Internet usage
Internet usage
78.6% (2022)
Smartphone usage
Smartphone usage
63.1% (2020)
Literacy
Literacy
95% (2019)
Population under 15
Population under 15
22% (2022)
Median age
Median age
30.5 (2018)

Sources

POPULATION: Worldometer
GOVERNMENT: The World Factbook
STABILITY: Global Innovation Index
INTERNET USAGE: International Telecommunications Union
SMARTPHONE USAGE: Newzoo
LITERACY: World Bank
POPULATION UNDER 15: World Bank
MEDIAN AGE: The World Factbook

*Updated with latest available data based on listed source.

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