What do you think about Vietnam’s startup ecosystem and investment environment? (Mr. Jin Young Kim, Partner of VIVACE Consulting & Accelerator, Founder & CEO of The Invention Lab Corporation)
There are more and more Vietnamese startups securing investment funds from outside of venture capital (VC), and venture capital in Vietnam mostly comes from foreign venture capital. The country still lacks local venture capital sources.
As far as I understand, promising local VCs in Vietnam include Do Ventures and ThinkZone Ventures. Local VC companies are rising at the moment, and I think more are appearing because the Vietnamese Government has called for their establishment to support local startups. So, in my opinion, three or four years from now there will be many domestic VC companies in Vietnam. And they are then likely to compete with foreign funds.
What are the upcoming plans for The Invention Lab in Vietnam? (Mr. Jin Young Kim)
Since 2019, we have invested in South Korean companies establishing subsidiaries in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Their number is already more than 50.
Among the successful cases of The Invention Lab’s startup ecosystem in Vietnam are OKXE.VN and Go2Joy, and while they offer domestic services they come from South Korea, with South Korean founders, and employ qualified Vietnamese people as CTO or COO, for example, and other Vietnamese staff. Over the last few years, one of VIVACE’s goals has been to spread the “Founder meet the founders” program, which means that South Korean founders meet Vietnamese founders. And then they get together to set up their own business and companies here in Vietnam or in South Korea.
What should Vietnamese startups do to attract more investors from South Korea in the near future? (Mr. Jin Young Kim)
Vietnam has a huge number of talented people. The biggest problem in South Korea, especially in the startup ecosystem, is the lack of talented people. However, here in Vietnam, talent in the younger generation is everywhere at universities, especially in IT. This is why Vietnamese startups are developing not only in the domestic market but also overseas.
Mr. Byung Won Choi, Partner of VIVACE Consulting & Accelerator: The most important problem in Vietnam’s startup ecosystem is exits, as the country doesn’t have the equivalent of NASDAQ, a custom-made market for existing startups. Therefore, Vietnam should create the conditions for startups in Vietnam to conduct initial public offerings (IPO) on its stock market.
Mr. Sang Cheol Jeong, President of VIVACE Consulting & Accelerator: I think fintech is an area where there is mutual benefit for South Korean startups getting into the Vietnamese market, because Vietnam is very well advanced in digitalization and mobiles, and has a young population and rising incomes, so mobile technology and fintech areas will spread out. The Vietnamese Government is serious about the digitalization of the banking and financial services industry as a whole.
Specifically, fintech provides capital and technology and also human resources. South Korea has a lot of well-developed fintech startups. So they could be invited by the Vietnamese Government to replicate what they have successfully done in South Korea. The government and the country’s private financial sector could quickly adopt advanced technologies and skills into the financial services industry, which in turn will improve the efficiency of the industry as a whole.
Vietnam’s banking sector is the mainstream provider of financial services. But as the economy develops as incomes grow, the capital market, securities market, and insurance market will all expand. And there will be a greater need for developing fintech solutions for these types of market-oriented financial services. If private entrepreneurs from Vietnam and the Vietnamese Government work together to cooperate more actively with star fintech players from South Korea, there will be more investment coming from South Korea.
I think that both VIVACE and The Invention Lab are trying to contribute to these sectors so that we can connect Vietnamese startup founders with South Korean investors, and that is one main activity that we are trying to devote ourselves to in Vietnam.
What are VIVACE’s plans in boosting its activities in Vietnam? (Mr. Sang Cheol Jeong)
What we want to try to concentrate on is providing advisory services for Vietnamese companies in the startup field and in financial services, IT, and technology. We can be a long-standing partner of Vietnamese companies looking for partners and investment from South Korea and also for human resources. We can act as a bridge to facilitate such partnerships. These areas are the kind of targets we want to specialize in going forward.