People keep asking us to comment on the state of Vietnam and startups. According to International Business Times, Vietnam is becoming one of the hottest startup hubs, not only in Asia, but also in the world. Read on to find out why.
At HATCH! we get unsolicited, inbound enquiries about investing in Vietnam on a daily basis, from as far away as London and as close as Singapore. The most intense interest in the economy is coming from South Korea.
HATCH! has investment referral understandings with international and local organizations such as JICA (Jeonnam Information and Culture Industry Promotion Agency); GCCEI (Gyeongbuk Center for Creative Economy & Innovation Center); Hangyang University; Foreign Trade University FIIS; and ExtraVallis, a new global emerging market investor/startup matching platform.
HATCH! and CSIP have collaborated on impact related projects serving Vietnam for the past 5 years, including those sponsored by United Nations organizations, KOICA (the Korean government equivalent of USAID), and the United States government. Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) is a US State Department sponsored program that is promoting innovation. HATCH! organized GIST Investors Vietnam in March 2019. HATCH! has also been named a GIST Innovation Hub for the execution of a bootcamp for deaf people to learn entrepreneurship.
Right now there is a surge in returning "Sea Turtles" a slang term for youth who studied overseas and are now returning to their home country for work. Many are starting companies, and among those many seek to make positive social, economic, or health impacts a part of how they measure the success of their business. They are joining Vietnam franchises or branches of programs like the 180 city US-headquartered global franchise Founder Institute, and the French innovation studio Schoolab, to rapidly hash-out ideas into scalable companies.
But it's not all golden eggs.
National founders who did not study in the UK, US, Australia, Canada, or EU for several years, may demonstrate comparatively less strength or "unpolished" levels of business soft skills, leadership experience, a critical thinking mind-set, collaboration habits, and/or logged time exercising being purely creative.
To overcome challenges, the Vietnam startup ecosystem is rapidly being joined on a regular basis by new incubators; and accelerators; training programs; and NGO and government programs and contests focused on developing entrepreneurship in Vietnam. International contest, AngelHack, sponsored in part by IBM, Vietnam Post, and Amazon Web Services, is happening now in Ho Chi Minh City as this article is being written.
The central government has mandated provinces and universities to embrace entrepreneurship and develop practical skill-building programs. Some provinces—outside early adopters Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Danang—are ambitiously getting started. For example, we spent all of Thursday, last week in Tra Vinh Province in the Mekong Delta talking to government officials at SME Tra Vinh project, observing a student startup pitching contest, and planning major event to promote entrepreneurship for the area's economic development.
Corporations are also being encouraged to embrace intra-preneurship, or startup-mentality to more rapidly evolve product lifecycle development processes and to externalize R&D functions by linking with the startup ecosystem or direct calls to participate in privately sponsored innovation challenges. A Malaysian-Swedish joint venture based in Singapore met with HATCH! two weeks ago, aiming to ask HATCH! to recruit teams to submit proposals for ideas to improve the maritime industry through technology.
So the key message for all of you: it is a great time to be alive and well connected in Vietnam! For more information on any of the mentioned programs or to express your interests or needs, please comment below or contact xinchao [at] hatch.vn.