Vietnam is striving to become a ‘startup nation’, but the number of venture funds operating in Vietnam remains so modest that all their names are known by startups.
These include FPT Ventures (Vietnam), Seedcom (Vietnam), IDG Ventures (the US), Cyber Agent (Japan), Golden Gate (Singapore) and 500 Startups (US).
Some funds have been set up, but they just exist on paper because they are still under the fundraising process. These include the IDT startup fund, and the fund of First project and VSF.
The number of venture funds is small, while the number of projects successfully calling for capital is even smaller. There are over 15,000 startups in Vietnam, mostly in Hanoi and HCM City. But only 20-30 startups have successfully called for capital from the funds in Vietnam.
The number of investment deals worth US$1 million or more is modest. The investments in Momo, Lozi, vatgia and ononpay are among them.
Analysts said Vietnamese startups don’t have feasible business strategies which can convince venture funds to make investments. Many funds have money, but they cannot find potential startups.
The problem is that most startups have small targeted markets which do not fit venture funds. In general, funds have requirements on capital management and minimum investment amounts (US$500,000 at least), while Vietnamese startups cannot satisfy the requirements.
In developed countries, venture funds can easily divest from businesses at any time by selling a stake on the stock market. But this is not an easy thing in Vietnam. Meanwhile, the success rate of investments, according to experts, is just 10%.
In many countries, investment funds are established by the government, aiming to give support to startups. But there is no such fund in Vietnam.
Though Vietnamese startups cannot call for much capital from venture funds, they still have close relations with the funds. In many cases, they receive advice, which to some extent is more valuable than money.
CEO Tran Nguyen Le Van of Vexere said his company received strong support from CyberAgent Ventures. The investor even gave consultancy and helped Vexere successfully call for capital the second time from Pix Vine Capital.
CEO Nguyen Ngoc Diep of vatgia.com has expressed his gratitude to Nguyen Hong Truong, former vice president of IDG Ventures, for Truong’s strong support to Vatgia, including development strategy planning.