Vietnamese startups raised $290 million in 2017, 42 per cent higher than $205 million last year, on the back of a couple of bigger ticket-sized deals including investments into gourmet media platform Foody Corporation and e-commerce player Tiki, according to data collated by Hanoi-based edtech group and accelerator Topica Founder Institute(TFI).
The volume of transactions also doubled to 92 from 50 of 2016, according to the report. Notably, funding into Vietnamese gourmet media platform Foody Corporation and e-commerce player Tiki accounted for nearly half of the total value at $118 million.
Among investors pouring capital into Vietnamese startup ecosystem, Singapore-based consumer Internet group Sea Limited ruled the list of top investor while CyberAgent Ventures dominated the year for its exit record.
Southeast Asian unicorn Sea Group (formerly Garena) acquired 82 per cent of Vietnamese gourmet media platform Foody Corporation for around $64 million. Besides, Sea consolidated its position in Vietnam with the acquisition of two top fintech and logistics players, whose identity remains undisclosed but with an estimated value up to $50 million.
CyberAngent Ventures, meanwhile, successfully exited four deals this year with Foody, CleverAds, Tiki and Vexere.
In 2017, local venture capital firms and angel investors surpassed foreign players in term of deal count. Vietnam Innovative Startup Accelerator(VIISA), ESP Ventures, Vietnam Silicon Valley, 500 Startups Vietnam and Shark Tank together sealed 49 early stage deals in 2017.
Foreign investors, however, still generated high deal value with $245 million funding while local investors pumped in $48 million in startups.
Among sectors, e-commerce topped the charts with 21 deals in 2017, accounting for $83 million in value, followed by food-tech with total deal size of $65 million. Fintech, meanwhile, stepped back to third place with 8 deals, contributing $57 million. Media also inched up with nine deals registering a deal value of $18 million.
Vietnam is also witnessing some action on the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) front as a source of capital. KyberNetwork, co-founded by a Vietnamese, launched their ICO in September last year, taking in 200,000 Ethereum, which was valued $56 million at the time.
The network is now valued over $333 million, with Vitalik Buterin—who co-founded Ethereum—on the board of advisors.
“Vietnam in 2018 continues to be an attractive startup hub for venture capital funds,” Operating Advisor of Monk’s Hill Ventures Justin Nguyen told DEALSTREETASIA in a recent meeting.
Nguyen believes that the support from the government, as well as the dynamic and creative spirit of Vietnam’s young generation, made the over 90 million-people- country an attractive startup hub for investment funds.
The government is doing its best to nurture the blooming ecosystem and attract more investment internationally, said Leo Pham, Program Manager at VIISA.
SpeedUP 2017, a VND11.75 billion fund ($520,525) started by Ho Chi Minh City Department of Science and Technology, is one of the efforts by the government that invests in 14 startups all over Vietnam at a minimum of VND350 million ($15,505) to a maximum of VND1.28 billion($56,792).
“Vietnam is an attractive market to a lot of investors. I think a good founder will have a good asset,” Justin stressed.