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Is it Worthwhile Investing in Vietnamese Startups? [VIDEO]

A fun video was released on YouTube from the Topica Founders Institute showing some of the latest big investor funds in Vietnam and the startups they support. You can find a list below the video of all the funds and the hot startups that they love. These will be some key companies to watch over the next year or two. (Note: Most links below are in Vietnamese):

CyberAgent Ventures, from Japan

  • Tiki.vn – It started off mainly shipping English books and Kindles into Vietnam, but Tiki has since expanded into Vietnamese books, increased its electronics offerings, and now offers a large assortment of products from toys to office products.
  • Foody.vn – Some say this will be the Yelp of Vietnam. It’s a welcome competitor in the growing content wars in terms of local listings. It has provided a coupon system to encourage customers to write reviews, leveraging the power of crowdsourcing.
  • Nhac Cua Tui – One of the biggest competitors to Zing in the music downloading sector. Downloads are free here, so it remains to be seen what will happen when they get hit with international standards, as Zing has.
  • Colorbox.vn – A new player in the growing mobile gaming space. A space that I believe is already getting quite competitive.
  • [UPDATE: The video contains some incorrect information, so we've removed MobiVI from this list, and instead added Colorbox.vn].

Prosperous Vietnam Investment Corporation, from Vietnam

  • Blue Up – An interesting take on education with flashcards. Homegrown at a Startup Weekend event in Ho Chi Minh city.

Duxton Capital, from Singapore

  • VTC Online – A startup that straddles two worlds, one of the new state-run social media networks that also does online gaming. Clearly, a lucrative place to be with VNG being the biggest startup success in Vietnam, built on top of gaming.

Kusto Tiger IT Investment fund, from Vietnam

  • Wada.vn – Currently Vietnam’s biggest homegrown search site that does not play mainly in the mp3 market like Zing. We were at the launch of this last month and heard how it wants to make searching in the Vietnamese language a lot easier than it is on Google.
  • Everyday.vn – Yet another Vietnamese group buying platform. It’s website is currently down.

Intel Capital, from the US

  • VCCorp – One of Vietnam’s largest technology companies, with its hands in many different websites from group buying to music to food. It has been buying its way to innovation for the last few years.

IDG Ventures, from the US

  • Project Lana – A startup that has yet to fully launch, but is rumored to be entering the e-commerce space targeting the ladies’ market.

VCCorp, from Vietnam

  • Eat.vn – A foreign food delivery startup that has led the food delivery space for the past year and a half. There’s lots of competition in this area right now.

MJ Group, from Vietnam

  • Hungry.vn – A new competitor in the online food delivery space.
  • Yume – A local news site.

It’s an interesting picture of where investors are putting their money and where they think the future of the internet is going in Vietnam. Frankly, some of these startups are not solving significant problems in Vietnam’s market. They’re piggybacking trends that they see worldwide or copying the success of other companies. But others are striking at the heart of central problems like mobile payments – although that kind of area is restricted by policy.

The startups that I’m really keen to watch are Foody.vn, Tiki.vn, and Project Lana. Foody.vn has a really nice design (a rarity among Vietnamese websites) and is finally a company that is serious about tackling the content problem that Vietnam currently faces [1]. They may be a success story that other content startups can later emulate.

Tiki.vn has been doing well for the past three years and continues to grow into the Amazon-style service that Vietnam needs; where it will head next with its open and practical approach is anybody’s guess.

Project Lana, although not yet released, seems to have a strong team as well as a very specific target market, which is one good indicator of success in a market where big companies like VC Corp are trying to do everything. In the end, it’s up to the consumers and the market to decide what Vietnam really needs and which startups will stick around.


  1. Currently, getting information about where to go, how to do things, and general information about Vietnam is found mainly in forums and not in consolidated in focused platforms. Just a few years ago, I spoke to the Google Lead in Southeast Asia who mentioned that content in Vietnamese is one of the lowest in the region and most of the content is actually produced in Vietnamese America. Vietnam’s internet population has been getting more active since then but unfortunately still has not consolidated that information into easily readable and accessible formats.  ↩


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