|500 Startups partners Binh Tran and Eddie Thai start new Vietnam venture capital firm|
Binh Tran and Eddie Thai, general partners at early-stage venture fund and seed accelerator 500 Startups Vietnam, said that they have finished deploying their first Vietnam-focused seed fund, 500 Startups Vietnam. They are launching a new firm to invest larger checks and to provide more support for a more concentrated portfolio of companies.
Ascend Vietnam Ventures (AVV) will seed $500 million to $2 million into 25 startups over the next three years. A third of those companies will receive further investment of up to $4 million each.
The Southeast Asia region continues to mature and there exist sufficient capital across all stages for founders. It is at an inflection point where what it took companies to be the regional or global winners of today is insufficient for the winners of tomorrow.
“With a smaller portfolio, we’ll have the time and resources needed to help each portfolio company build advantages in three critical areas. While these competencies are formed within the first 18 months of a company’s formation, they span the entire life of a company to serve as differentiators in an increasingly competitive world,” said Binh Tran.
When 500 Startups Vietnam was first launched, the startup landscape in Vietnam was completely different from what it is today. Back then, tech startup founders were few and far between, toiling away with limited resources or guidance. There were just a handful of early-stage investors in a tech ecosystem where terms like convertible notes, minimum viable products, and cap tables were foreign.
To give a sense of how young the ecosystem was, the total amount of venture capital invested in Vietnam in 2017 was $48 million, a minuscule amount for a country of almost 100 million people. Fast forward just two years later to 2019 and that number has approached $1 billion. Startups like ELSA, Trusting Social, Axie Infinity, and Earable have attracted global investors such as Sequoia, Founders Fund, Gradient (Google’s AI-focused fund), and Mark Cuban.
It is clear that Vietnam’s tech ecosystem has grown and matured with an increase in the number and quality of founders who are building deeper solutions. There have been more seed rounds more than double in size and dozens of early-stage investors have joined the field to find the region’s next market leaders.
The partners will continue to manage the 500 Startups Vietnam fund, which has a portfolio of 76 companies, while starting the new venture. Ascend Vietnam Ventures’ investments will be larger than the typical $100,000 to $200,000 that 500 Startups funneled into individual companies.