For those of you who are curious about the frontiers of Vietnam’s startup scene, an interesting place to start is the landscape of incubators, co-working spaces and communities. But as my buddy Chris Zobrist says, “I guess it depends on how you define ‘incubator’“. So I’ve got a relatively broad definition so that you can get a feel for what are the organizations, places, and people that are fostering the startup scene in Vietnam. Of course, there are a lot of projects I’m not aware of, and I’ve heard from some that there are more than that in Vietnam – some say that there are at least 20. I’ll just focus on ten here.
Of course, if you’re looking at Vietnam’s startup scene, you’ve got to separate it into two: Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city. I’ve already written a bit about their different characters last week.
By the way, there are quite a few that are hush-hush and aren’t announcing their presence on the market yet, like Hub.IT, which will be opening around July. There are others I can’t announce at present, but I’ll keep you posted. Also, it’s worth noting that CyberAgent Ventures is incubating in both Hanoi and Saigon (along with coordination with Vat Gia, the major Vietnamese e-commerce company). They’ve got a real cool model with their hands-on approach to investment and incubation. We’ll be hearing more from them next week.
So let’s get down to it this list of ten split across two cities:
(Many thanks for Pham Minh Tuan from Topica for his data on incubators in Hanoi!)
Hanoi: Relationships, government, and carefully crafted startups
Topica Founder’s Institute: You can’t go to Hanoi’s startup scene without thinking of Topica’s Founder’s Institute. The training course has been around for a little over two years and gets new startups into a 15-week program, and invites leaders from successful startups in Vietnam to come and train the newbies. It just graduated 11 startups late last year.
5Desire: 5desire is an incubator and consulting firm that’s focused on accelerating startups in various sectors in terms of business and resources. They choose startups to participate in their program and they’re also running a co-working space.
Hatch.vn: A new player on the scene. The crew organizes monthly events, attempting to connect startups across various sectors and is building up to a big startup fair.
FPT: Vietnam’s biggest technology company is also in on the incubating fun with an incubator called FICO, which is actually more targeted at students.
Saigon / Ho Chi Minh city: Business mindset, international connections, and money
The Start Center and Saigon Hub: Originally, started out as just the ‘Start Center’, this co-working space has overflowed to necessitate opening up Saigon Hub, where workshops are given along with mLab and the vision is to get more events and support for startups that need space, acceleration, and possibly funding.
Egg Agency: This unique enclave, huddled up outside of Saigon’s city center, is equipped with a spa and gym. But the real value addition is that it’s a growth hacking incubator that brings in new entrepreneurs and runs them through laps of real business to build experience for their own projects. A pretty unique model.
mLab: The newly arrived mLab, with support from the World Bank, is attempting to unite the startup scene in Ho Chi Minh city with events connecting all the right people together. They’re also running hackathons and competitions to incubate in co-working spaces that they are coordinating with others in the sector.
Skynet: Skynet specializes in building a network of expertise and managers inside of their own company while incubating and accelerating companies that come to them. In a way, it’s like in-sourcing, instead of outsourcing.
Quang Trung Software City: This industrial park is dedicated solely to fostering the Vietnamese tech industry and hosts several technology universities as well as big outsourcing companies. They’ve also got an active incubator.
Outside of this quick list of incubators, there are also government programs that are staying more incognito at the moment. And there’s plrenty of private incubators that are flying below the radar. A new model that I’ve been seeing lately is an outsourcing company that also incubates and fosters new projects on the side. Although some have protested that outsourcing professionals have trouble thinking in terms of product, it’s still an interesting use of engineering experience.
Note: Please let us know if there are any incubators, growth hackers, and co-working spaces that we missed and we’ll add them to the list.