500 Startups Vietnam is a US$14 million fund aiming to make ~80 investments into Vietnam-connected startups, i.e., startups built by Vietnamese talent and/or targeting the Vietnam market. As of the end of September 2020, 500 Startups Vietnam has invested in ~70 companies in various verticals including E-commerce, FinTech, EdTech, AdTech, Healthcare, etc.
We are also helping to define best practices for early-stage startups in Vietnam. Specifically, we want to train Vietnamese angel investors about tech startup investment, be a guide for regional tech investors about the Vietnam opportunities, and provide resources on startup practices for founders. We also aim to advocate for a more streamlined legal framework for startups and help Vietnamese corporations and SMEs partner with or invest in startups and innovation.
What is the investment process and how long does it take?
Here are basic steps everyone goes through. Sometimes we spend months developing a relationship, other times just a couple of weeks. Here’s what you can expect:
- Initial review: A member of our investment team will look at any materials you sent and determine whether the business fits our basic investment criteria. We will also look at your legal structure to understand whether it is optimized for your long-term vision.
- Initial follow-up: If the initial review passes, we’ll follow up with you via email, meeting, and/or phone call to learn more about your team and product.
- Meeting with our partner: If you’ve made it here, you’ll sit down with one or both of our partners. We’ll talk about your business and what it means to be part of the 500VN family.
- Final decision: Our partnership will discuss your company in great detail and make a decision as a team.
Opportunity is About:
Candidates should be from:
Description of Ideal Candidate:
What does 500 Vietnam invest in?
The startups we invest in generally all have an internet-based form of distribution. They often fall under common themes like FinTech, SMB Productivity, Healthcare, Media & Entertainment, AgTech, EdTech & Family, E-commerce, AdTech, and more. Ultimately though, we are “vertical agnostic, returns religious” — that is, we’re open to opportunities in almost any tech business if we believe it can make a good return for our fund.
What criteria does 500 Vietnam look at?
- Team: We usually look for a small cross-functional team with the combination of technical skills, design talent, marketing know-how, or at least a combination of two out of the three. We look for smart, passionate people who work well together, and are driven to solve problems for a target customer group. Founders who have worked together for at least a few months are a bonus.
- Product: We have a strong preference for companies whose products are launched and have demonstrated some usage validation (beyond just friends and family). The product should address a big and painful problem for a specific target customer and rely primarily on scalable methods of distribution, particularly using online platforms (search, social, mobile, local). The product should be clearly better and/or clearly cheaper than the alternatives. Being “first” with a “creative idea” is not enough. A startup should develop true, deep competitive differentiators.
- Market: We prefer markets that are large and growing fast.
- Traction: Having traction is a demonstration of proof of concept. If the data suggests things are moving in the right direction, it will help your chances of being accepted to 500. Some metrics that we usually look at include, but are not limited to, volume of users, revenue, growth, and unit economics.
- Deal terms: We look for terms that are appropriate for the company’s traction and stage as well as scale of the market opportunity.
Deadline: As soon as possible
Cost/funding for participants:
What are 500 Vietnam’s investment terms?
We typically invest US$100,000, though in special circumstances, we can go outside of that range. We take a standard percentage for these types of investments and do not ask for board seats.
What else can I get from 500 Vietnam?
- Direct support: Our team may be able to offer support in a variety of functions including operations, marketing, hiring, and capital attraction.
- Mentorship: As founders enter the 500 family, you will have the opportunity for access to the 500 partners in Vietnam and worldwide, seasoned entrepreneurs, experienced investors, or individuals with considerable expertise in their field to give feedback and offer you guidance.
- 500 network: The 500 Startups network consists of a growing list of several hundred founders and mentors strong. They come from diverse backgrounds, expertise, and locations. You’ll have opportunities to be connected to a growing list of growth hackers, engineers, designers, marketers, and founders from not just Silicon Valley or other parts of the U.S., but also Brazil, China, India, Japan, Russia, and other international markets. It is a tight-knit community that actively communicates with each other and provides support. We really are a big global entrepreneurial family.
- Fun: The 500 Startups culture encourages collaboration, innovation, creativity, taking risks, having fun, and being authentic. You’ll be working hard but it will be crazy, fun and like nothing else.