Unicorns scarce in Vietnam’s bustling startup scene

VNG Corporation, which specialises in digital content, online entertainment, social networking, and other IT fields, is the country’s only startup worth over $1 billion.  

Pham Nam Long, CEO of Abivin, a logistics startup, said one weakness of Vietnamese startups is lack of perseverance. “Vietnamese entrepreneurs often think short-term, they invest and want to see results in 1 or 2 years, while building a business can take 7-10 years.”

Long said the first two years will be a very difficult period for startups, discouraging many founders and making them uncertain about continuing. Financial depletion is also a big cause of collapse, he added.  

“The success of a startup depends not only on money, but also the experience and support provided by investment funds,” he said.

Speaking to local press, Vinnie Lauria, the founder of Singporean Golden Gate Ventures, who started a business in America’s Silicon Valley, said that startups must have “crazy, different” ideas to succeed.

Lauria said that with any startup, a “warrior spirit” to come up and run with crazy ideas is the first thing one should have.

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said that startups should not put limitations on themselves on “what is right or wrong”, but come up with new, different and even crazy ideas and create conditions for those ideas to be fostered.

A report released in January by Topica Founder Institute (TFI), a startup accelerator program in Vietnam and Thailand, said Vietnamese startups received a combined $889 million through 92 investment deals in 2018.

This was three times the mount this community received in 2017 with the same number of deals, and six times that in 2016, TFI noted.

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