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Vietnamese startups pitching to global investors

by Inside Out

500 Startups, the most active venture capital investor in Vietnam, hosted on Friday its latest startup Demo Day to showcase rising stars in its portfolio. 100+ investors, entrepreneurs, and corporate leaders convened at the event in Ho Chi Minh City, while hundreds of others joined the live stream.

Most of the 9 presenting startups have graduated from the three-month Saola Accelerator program, where 500 Startups Vietnam invested up to $150,000 in each participating company. Collectively, the 9 presenting startups are doing business in 17 markets across Asia Pacific, Europe, and North America. Launched in 2019, Saola Accelerator has hosted 3 batches with a total of 17 startups including a mix of fintech, edtech, and e-commerce businesses.

A closer look at the 9 startups:

  • Bizzi – Intelligent accounts payable automation. By July 2022, all Vietnamese businesses will be required by law to adopt e-invoicing. Bizzi was born to help local SMEs comply with the regulation and further digitize their cash flow management. Since its launch in February, they have signed 100+ clients including a top 3 convenience store chain and a leading pharmacy chain.
  • CoolMate – Digital wardrobe for men. CoolMate helps men stock up on daily essentials easily. Via CoolMate, customers can order up to 10 quality items like t-shirts, underwear, and socks for under $20. Ninety-eight percent of their customers love them. With 100,000 orders delivered to date, they are determined to revolutionize the retail experience for Vietnamese men.
  • Cricket One – Classic protein for the modern world. Crickets are the protein of tomorrow — tasty and sustainable. Cricket One has figured out the secret to farm and produce crickets efficiently and at scale. Claiming to have the largest production capacity in the world, they are already exporting to 12 countries in 3 continents and well on their way to feed the future.
  • PI.EXCHANGE – Virtual data scientist for enterprises. Machine Learning is arguably the most in-demand capability of our time, and PI.EXCHANGE is making it accessible to all organizations. With clients in various sectors, e.g. logistics, manufacturing, education, finance, and government, PI.EXCHANGE is helping companies build and operate Machine Learning models without data scientists.
  • ProSpark – Learning platform for upskilling and reskilling the workforce in Southeast Asia. They are making corporate training fun and accessible for clients like GoJek (Southeast Asian super app), Sam Sampoerna Bank (top mid-size bank in Indonesia), and PasarPolis (major regional insurtech company).
  • Staple – AI data capture layer for finance, banking, and healthcare. Specifically tailored to the Asian markets, Staple’s solution can handle business documents of various formats, layouts, and languages and extract data within seconds. They are helping major clients like EY, a top-tier Swiss bank, and a Vietnamese regional bank save time and money on manual paperwork.
  • TradingFoe – B2B marketplace for Nordics and Southeast Asia trading. The platform helps importers and exporters find the right trading partners and gain access to support such as trade financing and insurance. More than $4.2 million worth of products have been traded on the platform since last September, and TradingFoe is on its way to build a “silk road” for SMEs in Southeast Asia.
  • Tribee – Employee experience app that helps companies connect with, understand, and reward employees. With employee disengagement costing businesses in Southeast Asia $78 billion annually and Vietnam having the worst employee turnover rate in Asia, Tribee aims to help enterprises transform their workforce and drive business results.
  • Voiz – Audiobook & podcast app for Vietnam and beyond. With more than 70,000 registered users and revenue growing eight-fold last quarter, Voiz pursues a “100% licensed content” strategy and is proving that there is a market for quality copyrighted content in Vietnam.

At the same event, 500 Startups Vietnam introduced its newly-minted edtech unicorn, ApplyBoard. The platform aims to help international students access quality higher education in the U.S., the UK, and Canada. ApplyBoard Vietnam Country Manager Duong Pham noted, “Vietnam is one of the largest sources of international students in the world and is predicted to grow sustainably. ApplyBoard aims to be the market share leader in the recruitment market by 2021.”

500 Startups Vietnam shared that it has made 15 new investments in 2020 so far, increasing its portfolio to more than 70 companies. The venture capital fund is often featured among the most active VC investors in Southeast Asia by market researchers at Preqin, White Star Capital, and elsewhere. “In the past 5 years, the tech entrepreneurial ecosystem has evolved even faster than we could have even imagined. And yet there’s still a lot of room to run and grow. We’re thrilled and honored to be a part of the journey,” General Partner Eddie Thai told Vietnam Insider.

Also speaking at the event were Lan Anh Nguyen, Managing Director of Endeavor Vietnam, and Olivier Raussin, Managing Partner of FEBE Ventures. The speakers addressed challenges and opportunities awaiting Vietnamese startups in 2021.

By Vietnam Insider

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