[HATCH! REVIEW] Studying the demand of Start-ups for Supporting Activities in Vietnam.

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[HATCH! REVIEW]
Studying the demand of Start-ups for Supporting Activities in Vietnam.

Recently, the ICT entrepreneurial scene in Vietnam has become more inclusive. This is definitely good for the economy with more dynamic and innovative companies contributing to the economy. However, the survival rates of them are low comparing to other countries in the region such as Singapore and Thailand. There are a lot of reasons causing the differences among survival rate of startup in different countries. One of the decisive reasons is the impact of supporting services to the establishment and long-term development of startups.

Researchers:
Dat Le Viet - Co-founder, HATCH! PROGRAM
Nguyen Quang Huy - Research Analyst Intern, IDG Ventures Vietnam

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[HATCH! REVIEW] Studying the demand of Start-ups for Supporting Activities in Vietnam.

  1. 1. REVIEW STUDYING THE DEMAND OF START-UPS FOR SUPPORTING ACTIVITIES IN VIETNAM Case Study In Information and Communication Technology - Startup Ecosystem Researchers: Le Viet Dat Co-founder HATCH! PROGRAM Nguyen Quang Huy Research Analyst Intern IDG Ventures Published in National Economics University Review Supervisors: Le Duc Hoang, MA Professor National Economics University Nguyen D. T. Hang External Relation Director IDG Vietnam Aaron James Everhart Business Director Landor Associates Hanoi 2013
  2. 2. Page         1   TABLE OF CONTENTS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY  ........................................................................................................  2   GLOSSARY  ...............................................................................................................................  3   LIST OF TABLES  .....................................................................................................................  4   LIST OF FIGURES  ....................................................................................................................  6   CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION  ........................................................................................  7   1.1   ABSTRACT  ................................................................................................................  7   1.2   ABOUT RESEARCH  ..................................................................................................  9   1.2.1   RESEARCH OBJECTIVES  .................................................................................  9   1.2.2   RESEARCH GOALS  ...........................................................................................  9   1.2.3   RESEARCH METHODOLOGY  .........................................................................  9   1.2.4   SCOPE AND SCALE  ........................................................................................  10   CHAPTER TWO: STARTUPS KNOWLEDGE REVIEW  .....................................................  11   2.1   STARTUP DEFINITION  ..........................................................................................  11   2.2   STAGES OF STARTUPS LIFECYCLE  ...................................................................  13   2.3   STARTUP ECOSYSTEM AROUND THE WORLD  ...............................................  16   CHAPTER THREE: OVERVIEW OF ICT STARTUP ECOSYSTEM IN VIETNAM  ..........  23   3.1   ICT START UP IN VIETNAM  .................................................................................  23   3.2   FACTORS ENABLING THE STARTUP ECOSYSTEM IN VIETNAM  ................  28   3.3   SURVEY ANALYSIS  ...............................................................................................  51   3.3.1   SURVEY DESCRIPTION  .................................................................................  51   3.3.2   PARTICIPANT’S DESCRIPTION  ....................................................................  53   3.3.3   GENERAL OBSERVATION  ............................................................................  55   3.4   RESULT ANALYSIS  ................................................................................................  56   3.4.1   KNOWLEDGE & NETWORK  ..........................................................................  56   3.4.2   CAPITAL & PROFESSIONAL SERVICES  .....................................................  82   3.4.3   STATISTIC COMPARISION BETWEEN SUPPORTING ACTIVITIES  ........  96   CHAPTER FOUR: CONCLUSION  ......................................................................................  101   APPENDIX  ............................................................................................................................  106   APPENDIX I: SURVEY FORM  ........................................................................................  106   APPENDIX II: SURVEY RESULT  ...................................................................................  111   REFERENCES  .......................................................................................................................  115  
  3. 3. Page         2   EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ICT Entrepreneurship has become an important sector for many countries around the World. It is not only contributing to the wellbeing of the entrepreneur, the prosperity of the country but also to the betterment of human being. New communication and technology platform are making positive changes to our way of living and Entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and etc. are the ones making our World a better place. Coming to Vietnam from 2000, the entrepreneurial spirit in ICT in Vietnam has been developing through 3 generations. From that time, ICT startups have been demonstrating its importance to the Nation. E-commerce, software, application, communication channels and many more new, made-in-Vietnam platforms in ICT has made a great transformation to the country comparing to the time in 1990s. Fortunately, the global entrepreneurial community has start watching closely the movement from Vietnam and investing into it. Therefore, ICT entrepreneurship could be one of the missing puzzle, required to get Vietnam out of the middle-income trap. However, despite the importance of startups in the economy, the survival rate of startups in Vietnam is still low. This is partly because of the under development of the supporting activities for enhancing the sustainable growth and long-term development of startups. By conducting this research over 16 supporting activities in Vietnam, we have observed a strong demand of startups for them. The most desirable activities are Advisory and Mentorship, Compliment Events, Media, Education Course on Entrepreneurship and Angel Investor Network. On the other hand, there is a critical gap between the demand and supply for startups’ supporting activities. Therefore, the research has stated out an essential mission of building a strong ICT startup ecosystem in Vietnam with a system of integrated supporting services. Moreover, looking into the opportunity side, the research also shows a highly potential market for startups’ supporting activities. In that new market, financial sector plays one of the most important roles providing financial leverage for the survival and development of startups.
  4. 4. Page         3   GLOSSARY   Angel investor: An angel investor is an affluent individual that provides seed-funding for start-up in exchange for agreeable ownership equity. Aspiring Entrepreneurs: Aspiring entrepreneurs are people that deeply want to start new businesses. Auxiliary services: Services that don’t directly affect the development but necessary to the administration and daily operation activities of a startup. Startups: New ventures that are designed to grow fast, solve a serious market pain, and satisfy the demand of many people. Co-working Space: Co-working space is a shared working environment, usually an office, where people from different startups and organizations can come and work together Crowd-funding: A platform that startup could raise fund for by calling donations from the community. Entrepreneur: Entrepreneur is someone who exercises initiatives by organizing a venture to take benefits of an opportunity and being a decision maker to the production of goods or services. Incubator/Accelerator: Incubators and accelerators are programs designed to support for the development of startups through providing a package of resources, advisory and services Mentors: Are senior people in community that assist startups by providing consultancy, advisory and mentorship. Seed-funding: The fund provided for startups in its earliest stage of valuating business model Serial Entrepreneurs: An entrepreneur who continuously comes up with new ideas and starts new businesses. Startup Ecosystem: A community of entrepreneurs and their startups in various stages in conjunction with other individuals and organizations in a location (physical or visual), interacting as a system to create new startup companies. Startups’ Supporting Services/Activities: Services/Activities support for the sustainable development and fast growth of startups. Venture Capital (VC): VC is a sub-category of private equity that invests in early-stage, high risk but high potential growth startups and requires high return from them.
  5. 5. Page         4   LIST OF TABLES Table 1: Participants’ Statistics on Gender, Title, Age and Location  ....................................................  53   Table 2: 2 Groups of 16 Supporting Activities  ......................................................................................  56   Table 3: Advisory and Mentoring Service - Descriptive Statistic  ..........................................................  56   Table 4: Advisory and Mentoring Service - OLS Estimations between S&D and Availability  ............  58   Table 5: Advisory and Mentoring Service - OLS Estimations between S&D and Cost  ........................  59   Table 6: Advisory and Mentoring Service - OLS Estimations between S&D and Quality  ....................  59   Table 7: Advisory and Mentoring Service – Correlation Matrix  ...........................................................  60   Table 8: Advisory and Mentoring Service - OLS Estimations between Quality and Cost  ....................  60   Table 9: Incubator/Accelerators Service - Descriptive Statistic  ............................................................  61   Table 10: Startup Community Event - Descriptive Statistic  ..................................................................  63   Table 11: Startup Competition – Descriptive Statistic  ...........................................................................  65   Table 12: Startup Competition - Regression Model  ...............................................................................  66   Table 13: Communication Channels and Media – Descriptive Statistic  ................................................  68   Table 14: Education Courses - Descriptive Statistic  ..............................................................................  69   Table 15: Education Course – Regression Model  ..................................................................................  70   Table 16: Educational Courses - Regression model between two variables Quality and Cost  ..............  71   Table 17: Educational Courses – Multicollinearity Sub-test 1  ...............................................................  73   Table 18: Educational Courses – Multicollinearity Sub-test 2  ...............................................................  73   Table 19: University Support - Descriptive Statistic  .............................................................................  74   Table 20: Governmental Support – Descriptive Statistic  .......................................................................  76   Table 21: Governmental Support - Regression Model  ...........................................................................  77   Table 22: Online Community – Descriptive Statistic  ............................................................................  78   Table 23: Online Community - Regression Model  ................................................................................  79   Table 24: Offline Community - Descriptive Statistic  ............................................................................  80   Table 25: Offline Community - Regression Model  ...............................................................................  82   Table 26: Co-working Space / Office Solution – Descriptive Statistic  ..................................................  82   Table 27: Co-working Space / Office Solution – Regression Model  .....................................................  84   Table 28: Auxiliary / Back-office Services - Descriptive Statistic  ........................................................  85   Table 29: Auxiliary / Back-office Services – Regression Model  ...........................................................  86   Table 30: Investor Network - Descriptive Statistic  ................................................................................  87   Table 31: Investor Network - Regression Model  ...................................................................................  88   Table 32: Venture Capital - Descriptive Statistic  ..................................................................................  89   Table 33: Venture Capital - Regression Model  ......................................................................................  90   Table 34: Crowd-funding Portal - Descriptive Statistic  .........................................................................  92   Table 35: Crowd-funding Portal - Regression Model  ............................................................................  93   Table 36: Other Funds - Descriptive Statistic  ........................................................................................  94   Table 37: Other Funds - Regression Model  ...........................................................................................  95  
  6. 6. Page         5   Table 38: Other Funds - Regression Model for two variables Quality and Availability  ........................  95   Table 39: Supporting Activities - S&D Statistic Matrix  ........................................................................  96   Table 40: Matrix result of Z Test on S&D of each paired samples  ........................................................  97   Table 41: H1-Approval matrix result on S&D of each paired samples  ..................................................  98   Table 42: t-test results for two groups of startups  ................................................................................  100   Table 43: Supporting Activities for Startups – Conclusion Summary  .................................................  102   Table 44: Survey Sample - Participant Database  .................................................................................  111   Table 45: Supporting Activities on Knowledge & Network - Survey Result  ......................................  113   Table 46: Supporting Activities on Capital & Professional Services - Survey Result  .........................  114      
  7. 7. Page         6   LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1: The Global Startup Ecosystem Index  .....................................................................................  16   Figure 2: Component Index of Tel Aviv Startup Ecosystem  .................................................................  19   Figure 3: Component Index of Singapore Startup Ecosystem  ...............................................................  21   Figure 4: Statistics figure of participating startups by ICT Sub Sectors  ................................................  54   Figure 5: Participating Startup's Current Stage  ......................................................................................  54   Figure 6: Advisory and Mentoring Service - Demonstrated Graphs  ......................................................  57   Figure 7: Incubator/Accelerators Service – Demonstrated Graphs  ........................................................  61   Figure 8: Startup Community Event – Demonstrated Graphs  ...............................................................  63   Figure 9: Startup Competition – Demonstrated Graphs  .........................................................................  65   Figure 10: Communication Channels & Media – Demonstrated Graphs  ...............................................  68   Figure 11: Education Courses – Demonstrated Graphs  .........................................................................  70   Figure 12: University Support – Demonstrated Graphs  .........................................................................  74   Figure 13: Governmental Support – Demonstrated Graphs  ...................................................................  76   Figure 14: Online Community – Demonstrated Graphs  ........................................................................  78   Figure 15: Offline Community – Demonstrated Graphs  ........................................................................  80   Figure 16: Co-working Space / Office Solution – Demonstrated Graphs  ..............................................  83   Figure 17: Auxiliary / Back-office Services - Demonstrated Graphs  ....................................................  85   Figure 18: Investor Network - Demonstrated Graphs  ............................................................................  87   Figure 19: Venture Capital - Demonstrated Graphs  ...............................................................................  89   Figure 20: Crowd-funding Portal - Demonstrated Graphs  .....................................................................  92   Figure 21: Other Funds - Demonstrated Graphs  ....................................................................................  94  
  8. 8. Page         7   CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION 1.1 ABSTRACT Recently, the ICT entrepreneurial scene in Vietnam has become more inclusive. This is definitely good for the economy with more dynamic and innovative companies contributing to the economy. However, the survival rates of them are low comparing to other countries in the region such as Singapore and Thailand. There are a lot of reasons causing the differences among survival rate of startup in different countries. However, one of the decisive reasons is the impact of startup supporting services to the establishment and long-term development of startups. Because of its nature empowering for the creation of new companies, these supporting services include many different items: mentorship, consultancy, funding, office place, training, education course, research, human resources, strategy, management, accounting, hosting and etc. Generally, these services are provided by many different third-party providers in the economy. However, there are incubator and accelerator which provide a customized package of supporting resources for new companies. They are the angles for startups as they provide a safe environment for startups with full of security (necessary supports) so that they can focus on develop their product, actualize their business plan and execute strategic actions for sustainable growth. Therefore, business incubator and accelerator can reduce small business failures and directly enhance the survival rate of startups. The official website of the National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) of America has also given out the evidence on the impact of incubator and accelerator on startups. Historically, NBIA member incubators have reported that 87 percent of all firms that have graduated from their incubators are still in business. In the general population, 66 percent of new firms survive at least two years, and 44 percent survive at least four years. It is important to note that these figures are not directly comparable, due to differences in survey methodology, time frame and other factors. However, looking at them side by side does strongly suggest that business incubation reduces the risk of small business failure and offers a valuable comparison.
  9. 9. Page         8   Therefore, we can see how supporting services, in general, can strongly affect the development of a startup. However, in Vietnam up to now, startup supporting services still seem to be new to the market and they need an orientation for their development. This orientation should be based on startups’ demand and suppliers’ capability. On the other hand, there has not yet been any official and scientific research that could show clearly the alignment between these two market factors. Furthermore, most of startups’ information about this comes from online media channel. Unfortunately, most of them are news portals and blogs, which are based exclusively on personal perception and lack of statistic evidence. Therefore, we have been determined in conducting a scientific research to partly reveal the real scenario and contribute to the orientation of supporting services for startups in Vietnam. Moreover, as founders, startups and those supporting services interact as a system creating an ecosystem, we would also provide an overview about the ICT entrepreneurial ecosystem in Vietnam. Our research will identify startups’ demand, provide the big picture about the startup ecosystem in Vietnam and give an overview over the supporting market for startup’s development in Vietnam.
  10. 10. Page         9   1.2 ABOUT RESEARCH 1.2.1 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES » Evaluate the gap between supply and demand of supporting activities for ICT entrepreneurship in Vietnam. » Build the first foundation for further research that enhances the development of entrepreneurship in Vietnam, especially in ICT sector. 1.2.2 RESEARCH GOALS » Summarize common terminology, theories, researches and perspectives about entrepreneurship in ICT sector that are well recognized in the world. » Provide a brief overview about some ICT entrepreneurial ecosystem around the World to know about what factors create them and what are important to them. » Give a detailed overview about the ICT entrepreneurial ecosystem in Vietnam and factors creating and enabling it in Vietnam. » Identify Vietnamese startups’ demand for supporting services from the ecosystem. » Make evaluation on the gap between supply and demand for supporting market for ICT entrepreneurship in Vietnam. 1.2.3 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY This research is conducted using both quantitative and qualitative method: » In qualitative method, we have conducted some ‘analysis of documents and materials’ and ‘listing with brief descriptive observation” to give an overview over different ecosystem in Vietnam and in the World. Without any previous scientific research and as most of the information is from personal perception, this method could give an appropriate observation over the big picture of the startup ecosystem. » In quantitative method, we have conducted a survey to get a specific statistic figures that will help to identify the gap between the supply and the satisfaction of new startups for supporting services. The survey is built based on the assumptions made at the beginning of the research. These assumptions are summarized from previous articles and researches but most of them do not have back up figures.
  11. 11. Page         10   1.2.4 SCOPE AND SCALE a) SCOPE This research is initially aimed to explore the entrepreneurship in Vietnam in general. However, because of the unlimited resources and also the increasing necessity for ICT entrepreneurial research, this research will focus only on ICT startups. Furthermore, this research has tendency to provide an overview over the startup ecosystem in Vietnam. Demand of startups for services and ecosystem development are affected not only by the physical existence of the stakeholders but also other mental factors. These factors are history, culture, business etiquette, development stage of the economy and the economic sector, type of interaction between physical entities and etc. However, within the limitation of this report, we will only make observation on the physical existence of supporting services and the ecosystem of ICT startups in Vietnam. b) SCALE The report approaches different stakeholders in the ecosystem to do the research. They are: mentors, founders in different stages and other service providers in the market. However, as the ecosystem is still young and there have not yet been too many activities, researchers focus more on founders in different stages.
  12. 12. Page         11   CHAPTER TWO: STARTUPS KNOWLEDGE REVIEW 2.1 STARTUP DEFINITION There are several ways to define a startup; however, not all of them can differentiate between a startup and a normal enterprise. Many people equalize startup with a cloth shop or a restaurant. In this kind of definition, startup is just simply about establishing a new business and operating it overtime. However, in this report, startups are those new business defined to be unique entities that occupy typical characteristics. Even if these characteristics are described differently in different point of view, startups in whatever explanations still hold key common nature. In order to simplify, we will use only one reliable point of view. It is the one credited to Paul Graham, Founder of Y-Combinator - the most successful incubator worldwide. In his article “Startup = Growth” published on September 2012 on his own website, Paul Graham believes startup should be identified based on the ‘Growth’ - main factor and Demand Scale and Reachability – two sub factors. Specifically, the main factor ‘Growth’ here should not be understood an ordinary growth that any business, new or old, must have in order to survive. ‘Growth’ here means super-fast growth and the startup is a new venture designed to grow extraordinary fast. In other word, successful startups are the ones possess a significant growth that outstanding them out of normal business. However, if we just look at growth rate, we will not have full point of view to realize what businesses are startups. Example is that at early stage of expanding business model and at final stages of maturity, startups normally have a low or average growth rate. This is indifference with other companies. In this case, we look into other two sub-factors which are also the vital factors allow startups to have an impressive growth rate beyond others. These sub factors are Demand Scale and Reachability. Firstly, Demand Scale describes a startup trying to create solution for a market pain that a majority of customer really need. Secondly, Reachability describes a startup trying to reach and satisfy the need of this big number of targeted customers. To be more clearly, we look at an example. A spaghetti restaurant locates in one district; just a certain number of customers in this district are convenient to eat in this restaurant. Even though, if this restaurant is very famous and many people in other districts also want to have meal there; it can’t satisfy
  13. 13. Page         12   all of them who have the deman or simply unable to scale up easily. Now compare to Facebook, it has created a new demand for social network for hundred millions of people and its platform has reached and been reached most of them. In conclusion, startups are extraordinary businesses that have outstanding competencies and potential that other companies do not have. These factors allow startups to be able to achieve an amazing growth rate. Based on Paul Graham’s perspective, in this report, we propose other viewpoint that asserts startup in Vietnam with some characteristics bellow: • Solve a serious market pain and satisfy the demand a great number of people, • Incorporate certain amount of innovation to effectively tackle down the market pain, • Be designed to grow fast and have a promising high growth rate. We also based on these characteristics to find startup who invited to complete the survey. Looking further, we can also identify startups in other industries, besides ICT, by using these characteristics. For instant in Vietnam, there are many startups in Food & Beverage industry. One of them is the ‘Super Fresh Sugar Cane Juice’ franchise. It satisfies a large market need, innovates in branding and customer experiences for an old, popular service and is designed as a franchise to grow fast on duplication. Until now, the ‘Super Fresh Sugar Cane Juice’ franchise has expanded rapidly and achieved high growth rate nationwide. However, in this report, we just concentrate on startups in ICT industry.
  14. 14. Page         13   2.2 STAGES OF STARTUPS LIFECYCLE Startup is a new venture designed to grow fast. Then, in the executing process to achieve that growth, there are many common stages for all startups. Therefore, in order to have the same perception over the development stage of startup, we create definition for each stage and call the combination of them as ‘Startup Lifecycle’. There are many way to classify a startup lifecycle. These classifications are very important to analyze startup because of different characteristics and concerns of startup at each stage. The upcoming list summaries some common startup lifecycle: a) The list begins with lifecycle that stated in the article “7 biến số quan trọng cần cân nhắc khi áp dụng các lời khuyên và kinh nghiệm startup” in Westart (21/12/2012), author Việt Dương. Access 21/6/2013. There are 5 clearly stages: • Problem/Solution fit: Startups discover appropriate solution for target problem • Product/Market fit: Startups customize their products to meet two big requirement, solving problem and satisfying customer need. • Optimization: Startups finalize and extend its platform to efficiently and effectively provide products/services to customers. They optimize all available resources in order to increase profit margin. • Scaling: Startups achieve its highest growth rate. Growth rate would be calculated in term of customer scale, sale, or capital. • Transitioning: Startups make decisions on keeping the business sustainable, selling it, transforming by developing opportunities or getting down. b) The second method is proposed in Speed up your Startup, author Mikko Järvenpää believes there are six stages for a startup life. They are: • Concept or pre-start: Founder finalizes his/her good idea about their future business after a finding and filtering process. • Pre-launch startup: Startup builds different products/services prototypes.
  15. 15. Page         14   • Beta stage with customers: Startup provides prototype to customers; gets feedbacks and actualizes its final products. • Established with customers: Startup finalizes the product; delivers to the market; sets and retains relationships with customers. • Deadpool: Startups may develop and gain great success. However, startups may fail and have to sell out business. • Acquired: Startups may be sold to other big corporation at a high price if they have been successful during the deadpool stage or be sold at low price to regain part of initial investment if they fail. c) According to Steve Gary Blank in Four steps to the Epiphany, he proposes a model based on three continuous, different centric: Company Centric, Product Centric and Customer Centric (Agile Development). Firstly, Company Centric (4 Stages): • Customer Discovery • Customer Validation • Customer Creation • Company Building Secondly, Product Centric (6 Stages): • Discovery: Startups focus on exploring whether they are solving a meaningful problem and whether anybody would hypothetically be interested in their solution. • Validation: Startups are looking to get early validation that people are interested in their product through the exchange of money or attention • Efficiency: Startups refine their business model and improve the efficiency of their customer acquisition process. Startups should be able to efficiently acquire customers in order to avoid scaling with a leaky bucket. • Scale: Startups step on the gas pedal and try to drive growth very aggressively
  16. 16. Page         15   • Sustain: Startups reach the pick of growth with sustainable number of customers and certain amount of revenue. All resources will be utilized to stabilize products and retain market share. • Conservation: Startups make actions to renew products or fall into declining trend. Finally, Customer centric or Agile Development (5 Stages): • Architectural Spike • Release Planning • Iteration • Acceptance Tests • Small Releases According to rational consideration, we choose Steve Gary Blank’s proposed lifecycle – Product Centric because of two reasons. One is that Product Centric lifecycle has more specific classification than other models. It helps researchers have better understanding about participating startups. Moreover, this classification was incorporated in the lean startup model that has become familiar with Vietnam startup community. As a result, it will be more convenient for startups to do the survey. The second reason is the model’s creditability. We believe in the accuracy, popularity and the advancement of Product Centric lifecycle because it was used in Startup Ecosystem Report 2012 (Startup Genome) – the well-known report among global startups’ community.
  17. 17. Page         16   2.3 STARTUP ECOSYSTEM AROUND THE WORLD A startup ecosystem is a community of entrepreneurs and their startups in various stages in conjunction with other individuals and organizations in a location (physical or virtual), interacting as a system to create new startup companies. These organizations can be in different categories: universities, funding organizations, support organizations (like incubators, accelerators, co-working spaces, etc.), research organizations, service provider organizations (like legal, financial services, etc.) and large corporation. These organizations typically focus on specific parts of the ecosystem function and/or startup at their specific development stage. Last year, “The Startup Ecosystem Report 2012” published by Startup Genome on December 2012 suggests a list of Top 20 Startup Ecosystems around the World, ranking based on several index. The result is showed in The Global Startup Ecosystem Index below. Most of the listed ecosystems are from developed areas like America (Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, Seattle, New York City, Boston and Chicago), Canada (Canada’s Technology Triangle: Toronto, Vancouver and Waterloo), Europe (London, Berlin, Paris and Moscow) and Australia (Sidney and Melbourne). However, it is not unexpected to see Singapore, which has been striving hard to be the leading ICT startup center in Asia, in the 17th place. Beside Russia, India (Bangalore) and Brazil (Sao Paulo), from the BRIC countries, are also in the list. However, the last ecosystem is not from China, but Chile (Santiago). This should be careful in Figure 1: The Global Startup Ecosystem Index Source: The Startup Ecosystem Report 2012
  18. 18. Page         17   making statement whether China has no ecosystem on the top 20 or just because not many China’s startups takes part in the database of the report’s creator. In order to understand more about what factors join in creating startup ecosystem around the World and even somehow their history, we would have a brief look on several key representatives. Silicon Valley Silicon Valley, in the southern region of the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California, in the United States, is considered as the first startup ecosystem in the World. This ecosystem is by far and away the strongest ecosystem for high-tech innovation and development, accounting for one-third of all of the venture capital investment in the United States (Money Tree Report, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Q1 2010 US results). Historically, Silicon Valley is initially formed in the beginning of 1900s when an ecosystem has been formed between Stanford University and high-tech firms in the region, based on the same interest of for the industrial development of the area. After five decades of continuous collaboration, this initial ecosystem had given born to many high-tech firms (Hewlett Packard, Varian Associates, etc.) around the campus of Stanford University. Furthermore, under the strong assistance of the State, Stanford Industrial Park, Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International), Xerox’s PARC and many other high-tech initiatives had been created and made the ecosystem the strongest technology center in the World. In 1957, the newly developed silicon transistor had officially given the ecosystem the name known nowadays: Silicon Valley. During this time, semiconductors are still a major component of the area’s economy. However, from 1960s, Silicon Valley has been most famous for innovations in software with the founding of 3Com, Adobe Systems, Cisco, Apple Computer, Microsoft and etc. Activated by these new high-tech firms, from 1970s, Silicon Valley also observes the emergence of the venture capital industry which later played an important role in the creation of startups. The development of the Internet in mid 1980s and its commercialization in 1995 had made a great impact on the Silicon Valley. Adapting the new interconnected network from the early day, Silicon Valley had been leading the Internet bubble (from 1997 to 2000) and the new economy sector: “Internet sector” or “information and communication technology”. After the dot-com crash
  19. 19. Page         18   and until now, Silicon Valley continues to maintain its status as one of the top research and development centers or ecosystems in the world. Before the dot-com bubble or even 5-8 years ago, we hardly heard of any other ICT ecosystem. However, after the success of Silicon Valley with a great number of dot-com companies were founded during the bubble, there has been an underlying trend to develop other startup ecosystem around the globe. With inspiration from startup stories incubated by Y-Combinator and 500 Startups (from 2005) and especially with the introduction of Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup from 2008, mastering the ICT sector has been the mission of many communities and even countries. Tel Aviv The report finds that Tel Aviv, a highly advanced ecosystem in Israel, is the leading alternative to Silicon Valley. The country has produced a highly respectful number of over 4000 startups in the high-tech industry with 60% of their startup can manage to raise funds. Moreover, more than 40% of them are still around and play an important role for the job market and economy of the country. This is more respectable as Israel is just created less than 7 decades ago, is geographically isolated and, still has war with surrounding neighbor countries and has a population of just 8 million. When the 2009-book “Start-up Nation: The story of Israel’s Economic Miracle” is released, it showed how a great ecosystem has been the back-bone for this world-class innovation hub for startups. Firstly, it is about the culture and perception of the whole country. “The great irony of the Start-Up Nation story is that Israel has transformed the challenges it has faced into assets that form the cornerstones of its culture of innovation. Adversity of all kinds, such as being under attack, small, isolated, and lacking resources, have forced Israelis to be resourceful, to do more with less, to innovate, and to be global from day one. The fact that Israel specializes in adversity is most dramatically seen in downturns.” Moreover, people tend to learn and study to advance themselves Secondly, Israeli government has played a fundamental role in the dynamic nature of the startup ecosystem with 4.3% GDP is invested in R&D. Furthermore, the Government has pushed so hard on branding its country to be a startup nation and this effort has been paid off successfully with more attention and
  20. 20. Page         19   more resources. Implemented policy also makes it more comfortable for people to start their company in Israel and even it is planning to implement a startup VISA for startup who is interested in starting from Israel. Resource for startup including mentorship and funding are the next most important factors. Based on The Startup Ecosystem Report, Israel has a healthy funding source as strong as Silicon Valley on the funding index and even it is slightly more focused on angels, and less on family/friends. Lastly, Tel Aviv also has a great supporting industry and community. Beside other third party service provider, incubator and accelerator play an important role for the sustainability of startups. Moreover, startups in Israel are also supported by a small but open and enthusiastic mentor community which helps to reduce failure by lesser mistakes in startups. Figure 2: Component Index of Tel Aviv Startup Ecosystem Singapore The report noted Singapore, ranked 17th, has the potential to become the central startup ecosystem of Asia, bringing together the markets of China, India, Indonesia, and Malaysia. The city-state's "unique geographical position at the heart of Asia provides a fertile environment for entrepreneurs to start, grow and scale their businesses not only in Asia, but globally", it added. Singapore performed well, ranked 8th, in both the funding and talent indexes. The funding index measures how active and how comprehensive the risk capital is in Source: The Startup Ecosystem Report 2012
  21. 21. Page         20   a startup ecosystem, while the talent index measures how talented the founders are in the startup ecosystem. The first impression when looking at this ecosystem is how active the Singapore Government is in enforcing the community both directly and indirectly. The Singapore government has been making concerted efforts to encourage a startup environment, setting aside funds to support such activities and providing access to these via its various agencies including the Economic Development Board and International Enterprise Singapore. At least there have been two tax incentives in helping start-ups preserve cash flow and profits (no tax on first S$100,000 of chargeable income for the first 3 years of tax assessment) and encouraging start- ups to carry out more research and development (R&D) in Singapore (cash grant up to S$20,250 for the first 3 years of tax assessment). That information is well published not only to the whole community but also the World to attract talent resources in the Government’s website (http://www.enterpriseone.gov.sg). Beside these indirect schemes, the Government is also more than active in providing direct assistance to the purpose of creating new companies. There have been four schemes implemented: government-aided equity financing schemes, cash grants, business incubator schemes, and debt financing schemes. Beside talent with a high index, the community in Singapore is also highly active and interactive. Not only the community is attracting resources from outside with many regional and global activities but also it is reaching out. Serial entrepreneurs, angel investors, incubators and funding organizations are more than active in flying to other countries in the South East Asia region seeking for new market and opportunities. One more to cover, best media and blog channels (techinasia.com, e27.com and etc.) for startup community in Asia are mostly based in Singapore.
  22. 22. Page         21   Source: The Startup Ecosystem Report 2012 Figure 3: Component Index of Singapore Startup Ecosystem
  23. 23. Page         22   Overall Observation After a brief review about the ecosystem, we can see how important is the role of an ecosystem to the development of startups in the country. Moreover, we can see that a developed ecosystem required a great deal of united goals from many resources in the environment around startups. It is important for an ecosystem to have support from its Government to develop. However, it is not the only case, a very strong advancement from one factor in the ecosystem can also leading to an ecosystem. In the case of Silicon Valley, it is the vision of the leaders of Stanford University (an academic entity) and other high-tech firms (enterprises) in the region.
  24. 24. Page         23   CHAPTER THREE: OVERVIEW OF ICT STARTUP ECOSYSTEM IN VIETNAM 3.1 ICT START UP IN VIETNAM ICT Entrepreneurship’s footprint has been recognized in Vietnam from 2000 and there is an unofficial category which divides the ICT startup time into three generations. The first generation is from 2000 to 2005, the second one is from 2006 to 2010 and third generation is from 2011 to the present. The first generation of Vietnamese ICT startups observed the popular introduction of commercialized computer and Internet into Vietnam from around the mid of 1990s. By that time, computer, mobile and Internet’s penetration is still not large and ICT was mostly about Internet’s basic application, software and also games. Therefore, the idea of starting up a company from the ICT factor is still not well perceived and even considered as a dream. As a result, the ICT startup in this period might had come but left nothing remarkable. The second generation of ICT startup from 2006 to 2010 comes with the inspiration from initial success of VẬT GIÁ and VNG and also the more popularity of Internet and personal computer in Vietnam. Smartphone are also introduced. However, the market in this generation was more focused on the stock and the real estate market and the mass crisis later. Two representatives of ICT startups in Vietnam from the second generation are VẬT GIÁ and VNG: VẬT GIÁ - is the first and currently the biggest e-commerce platform in Vietnam. VẬT GIÁ is founded on 20/08/2006 by Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Diep, who has been familiar with e-commerce while he is working in Japan. With the common perception that “Vietnamese people will never buy goods from the Internet”, hardly there were any companies supported him and even he had been refused by more than 20 technology companies to build an ecommerce platform because of its complexity and high requirements. Therefore, he had to build his own team and independently develop his company from scratch with 300,000 USD of self-financing. After one year, on 15/07/2007, VẬT GIÁ was officially launched. The money was quickly burned out after one year and he had to use all of his resource and network to raise additional fund for VẬT GIÁ’s daily operation. Fortunately, on 03/2008, IDG Venture Capital made the
  25. 25. Page         24   investment on VẬT GIÁ. The ecommerce website quickly grown after that but lack of experiences and knowledge, the company struggled in management crisis. Only after solving the issues by skills applied from a borrowed book, Mr. Diep had been able to define the company’s vision and key values and from that point, VẬT GIÁ started stabilizing and developing to the current leading position. VNG - is one of the largest Internet companies in Vietnam founded by Mr. Le Hong Minh. Most, if not all, of the Vietnamese who are into gaming and technology know of his story as an entrepreneur. The story started with Minh as a game lover from the time he was 15 when games were introduced to Vietnam in 1992. After attending World Cybergames (one of the most popular global event for games) in Korea in 2002, besides working as an investment banker in Vina Capital, he established a small game room (internet cafe). Mu Global, an online game, is so popular worldwide these days, but only in English. Therefore, Minh thought there was an opportunity to make online games in Vietnamese. He failed to license MU Global in Korea but successfully got Swordsman Online (a popular game of Kingsoft, a Chinese software company). The game became a blockbuster in Vietnam, 6 months later after its launch in 2005, under the company named Vinagame, initiative of VNG. The company is profitable in the first year and even could got its first and only financing round from IDG. In 2009, Vinagame rebranded as VNG, an internet company, in which besides licensing and developing games, VNG has other internet ventures in music distributor (Zing MP3), news and entertainment portal (Zing News), chat platform (Zing Chat) and a social network (Zing ME). These products are usually the leading service in its industry which have brought VNG a great deal of awards. In 2013, VNG is trying to expand into the mobile sector with Zalo (an application for communication via mobile) and also it aims to successfully extend its market in China and Japan. During this first two generations, people kept an eye on America’s Silicon Valley with Y- Combinator, Facebook, etc. and even if the attention is directed out of America, it would just stop over the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China). Therefore, what happened in Vietnam did not catch much attention, not only from the world but also from the mass media
  26. 26. Page         25   in Vietnam. The evidence could be seen that most of the contents and news from that time was recorded only on paper media and hardly could we track them backward. Fortunately, the global entrepreneurial community around the World has now put more attention on Asia, including Vietnam as one of the three most potential for future development in ICT startups (Vietnam, India and China - VIC). This becomes one of the most important factors for the development of the third generation of startups: from 2011 to present. Not only mass media attention, this period comes with many more great backgrounds for the development of a new startup scene. The internet users and mobile subscribers penetration of Vietnam is rated high comparing to other countries in Southeast Asia in 2012: 1st rank in mobile with 174% and 3rd rank in Internet with 30% (lower than Singapore and Thailand) (Source: IMF). Furthermore, in Vietnam as of Q1 2012 smartphone penetration was around 30 percent but only 11 percent of subscribers had a 3G subscription (Source: GSMA Intelligence). Furthermore, the ecosystem is more diversified with more supporting activities from venture capital (Cyber Agent Ventures), co-working space (Saigon Hub), incubator (5Design), community (HATCH!) and so on. Furthermore, the introduction of “The Lean Startup” and many successful example of this model in Vietnam has been a great inspiration leading to the very dynamic community nowadays with thousands of aspiring founders. The third generation of ICT startups in Vietnam has been giving birth to many new startups and many of them has been extremely successful not only in Vietnam marker but also in the global market. Some recent well-known startups like that are Appota, MisFit, Kleii and CocCoc. Appota - is a dynamic & innovative company in ICT industry in Vietnam. The company serves mobile developers, content providers, advertisers and smartphone users by being a platform to connect and distribute mobile application. Appota was founded on 12/12/2011 by Mr. Do Tuan Anh when he took part in the the Entrepreneurship course Founder Institute organized by TOPICA Education Group and the Founder Institute International. From participating in DEMO ASIA (a platform to showcase emerging technology and trend in Pacific Asia) in Singapore on 01/03/2012, Appota had attracted more and more attention from Asia and international mobile application developers. Best achievement of all is “Most
  27. 27. Page         26   Disruptive” award from Founder Showcase event organized by Founder Institute International in America. This is not only a proud for Appota but also Vietnam and Appota had been named as “Startup of Year 2012” by the Vietnam startup community. Now, Appota is now an application distributor for international developers to Vietnam and it has opened its representative office in Singapore and China. MisFit - is a company specialized in making wearable accessories for medical health care by using mobile application. MisFit is founded by Sonny Vu (successful entrepreneur in medical health care in America) and John Sculley (former CEO of Apple Computer). In order to start with a low cost and risk, MisFit used Indiegogo (a community funding platform - crowd- funding - which help startup to raise fund from future user or donor from the vast community) to raised USD $846,675, exceeding the initial goals of USD $100,000. Impressed the World by this number, they are also further raised USD $7.6 million in April 2013 and they are massively recruiting their R&D team in Vietnam to develop its first product: Shine. Kleii - is an online storing platform (cloud service) co-founded by Mr. Nguyen Tuan Son and Mr. Yerlan Tasbulatov in 2011. It is located in BTIC, a technology park located in Binh Duong, north of Ho Chi Minh City, heavily invested by Vietnamese Government and aspiring to be Vietnam’s technology hub like Silicon Valley. Using the freemium model like DropBox, the company has been observing an aggressive growth in its users, about 750,000 users worldwide in April 2013. Undisclosed amount of seed funding has been invested and it is looking for series A funding from Silicon Valley. Kleii is especially ambitious in competing in the the global market seriously. It has been experienced a spike in Japanese users and now is focusing in the growing market in Brazil. CocCoc - is another interesting story of Vietnamese startup. It is a Russian-financed Vietnamese Search Engine plans to spend USD $100 Million to beat Google, which is not only the top search engine but also the number one website in Vietnam (Source: Alexa). Arrived on 30/01/2013 after two years of initiative, the team has about 400 people and has burned over USD $15 million. Together with the CEO, Victor Lavrenko, there are also 40 engineers in the team who have had experiences battling Google back to Russia with the native search engine, Nigma and Yandex. Focusing on what Google has not yet optimized for
  28. 28. Page         27   the local market, CocCoc has been continuously released more and more feature which should be liked by the native. The discussion over the ambitious goal of CocCoc has gone to many different directions but the scenery is still a positive sign for the entrepreneurship development in Vietnam. Even those examples cannot showed all aspects of the third generation of ICT startup in Vietnam but it do show the undeniable impact and success that ICT startups are contributing to the prosperity and the future development of this country. An estimated of dozens and up to hundreds of startups out there is a promising number for the bright future of the third generation. However, there are still many aspects preventing the third generation to develop to maximization. Three most critical issues are the lack of capital, market understanding and experiences. Lack of knowledge and market understanding is the biggest problem that makes some startups become dreamers who create an imagine market. As Vietnam is a developing market, its users’ behavior is totally different that in developed country. Thus, without proactive innovation, many startups will waste their time and resources exploring a not yet mature or developed market. Lack of knowledge or experiences, on the other hand, leads to failure deal to lesser mistakes and unsustainable model for development. For some startups, founders are too technically oriented and lack the management skills or business mindset to grow their business. For other startups, founding ICT startups without the understanding of new technology and platform is also a dangerous deal. The last critical issue is the lack of fund, as the venture capital and incubator industry in Vietnam is not yet developed. Furthermore, unstable market and lack of market’s official research and information for risk management is also a constraint for seeking outside funding. Many startups recognize their weakness, but it’s not easy to find suitable cofounders, mentors as not many people can commit to follow a startup’s dream in the long run. This creates a strong demand for support from a larger scale: from the government, the community and etc. Moreover, these supports would be more effective and efficient if it come from a united ecosystem with the same vision and goal.
  29. 29. Page         28   3.2 FACTORS ENABLING THE STARTUP ECOSYSTEM IN VIETNAM An ecosystem consists of not only physical units, but also the interactions between them, other units and the environment within and surrounding them. In order to deeply understand an ecosystem, we need to go to the root of the interactions which is the culture, the history and many other factors of the ecosystem. However, as the ecosystem in Vietnam is just in the beginning of the development stage, it is still too early to make a concrete conclusion based only on personal observation and unofficial data and research. Therefore, under the scale and scope of this research, we will only provide an overview over the current situation of startup ecosystem in Vietnam by listing out those entities and organizations that are considered to be contributing to the startup ecosystem. 3.2.1 ENTREPRENEURS The world pictures entrepreneurs as innovative and driven people that want to turn their ideas into real businesses. To define how many types of Entrepreneurs there are is not an easy job due to the simple fact that every entrepreneur is unique and different. However, in this part, there are some listed categories that most entrepreneurs would fall into in Vietnam market. a) Aspiring entrepreneurs Aspiring entrepreneurs are people that deeply want to start new businesses. Most of them are considered as young, talented and ambitious, no matter they have ideas or not, their career paths are not supposed to be as normal as an employee in a specific company. These days, when entrepreneurship is one of the priorities of the country, the trend of wannabe entrepreneurs hits many of Vietnamese youth with bright new ideas that could bring great benefits to, the society or even help build high-revenue businesses. Therefore, there are quite a number of events which encourage those ideas to be presented and developed. Additionally, online platforms like Forums, clubs and websites of startups are also created to support those would-be entrepreneurs to find partners or share experience and knowledge. As estimated, there are around thousands of wannabe entrepreneurs that are soon to be young entrepreneurs.
  30. 30. Page         29   b) Entrepreneurs Entrepreneur is someone who exercises initiatives by organizing a venture to take benefits of an opportunity and being a decision maker to the production of goods or services. His responsibilities are to seek for business opportunities and create business systems to utilize those opportunities for financial gain. As a matter of fact that Entrepreneurship is considered as a critical vital to the prosperity of a nation, yet in Vietnam, the full potential of entrepreneurship has not been fully realized. According to the statistics of General Statistics Office 2012, the number of entrepreneurs is approximately 36,000, in which SMEs account for 97% of total entrepreneurs but contribute only 40% of GDP. This is not the ideal image for Vietnam despite great deal of effort and investment. However, facing the situation that entrepreneurial spirit is spreading faster than ever and the development of supporting systems and program, there would be a strong belief in the brighter future of the entrepreneurism in this country. c) Serial entrepreneurs Serial entrepreneur is who continuously comes up with new ideas and starts new businesses. As opposed to a typical entrepreneur, who will often come up with an idea, start the company, and then commit to develop the company through time, a serial entrepreneur will often come up with the idea and get things started, but then give responsibility to someone else after some concrete achievements and move on to a new venture. This can be a good thing if the individual has lots of unique ideas and is the best one suited to get each one started, but can be a bad thing if the individual stops putting time into a company that needs his or her help, in order to try to move forward with a new idea that may or may not succeed. d) Foreign entrepreneurs This is because of Vietnam is now a new attention point for entrepreneurial community around the world, especially, when more and more Vietnamese startups are making their position in the global market. Furthermore, as “The Lean Startup” is the most popular model recently, cheap bootstrapping has been an important factor. With cheap food, cheap renting, cheap transportation and not many insurance policy, Vietnam provides startups - which has no
  31. 31. Page         30   concern on the place but the Internet - a very good place to start their next dot com giant. Furthermore, “the cost of operations is low as such it is easy to pivot or to test several ideas/ products”, said by Jeffrey Paine, found partner of Golden Gate Ventures in the interview with Albert Mai for his blog “Vietnam Startup from Perspectives of Overseas Investor”. Low cost of operation also leads to another advantage for investors when funding through stages. These foreign forces are a great source of mentors and investors for the community in Vietnam. 3.2.2 INVESTORS / FUNDING SOURCES A typical startup goes through several rounds of funding. When startups look for the early stage investments with their growing business, there are three main types of investors for startup businesses: friends and families, angel investors and venture capitalists. However, as the traditional investment market in Vietnam has been stricter due to the economic crisis, there are some different forms such as investment fund and crowd funding platform which help startups deal with the fund exercise. a) Friends and Families Besides self-financing, investment from friends and family is the second most-used-way in financing a new business when there is no alternative available. One reason for this fact is that this type of investors is the one that could provide the earliest seed money for startup and agree to receive return or repayment later on and even without interest payment. They are not considered as accredited investors under the government obligations; however, it is still counted an investment. Therefore, it should not be take it easy by putting trust as a key management as most of Vietnamese people perceive but still need to be documented in written forms. b) Angel Investors An angel investor is an affluent individual that provide most seed-funding for start-up in exchange for agreeable ownership equity. Angel investors have to take big risk, as they have to trust the start-up team and investing in a business model with high level of uncertainty. These individuals tend to form into group and split risk into smaller parts. By far, the most
  32. 32. Page         31   prominent angel investor groups are SAVVi Angel which specifically targets on technology startups in Vietnam. c) Venture Capitals This could be considered as the most desired form of investors for startup founders. Venture Capital is a sub-category of private equity that invests in early-stage with high risk but high potential and growth startups and requires high return from them. Most VCs start to invest after the angel investors have provided the seed funding. In Vietnam so far, some foreign venture capital firms set their footsteps in Vietnam startup market and stirring up Vietnam’s venture capital landscape. IDF Ventures and DFJ Vina Captial are pulling away from tech startups and shifting to more incubatory and practical approach. CyberAgent Ventures and Japanese VC firms have made active investments focusing on Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city. IDG Ventures: By far IDG Ventures Vietnam is the most prominent VC in Vietnam, a part of the International Data Group (IDG) having global operation over 5 countries (Vietnam, China, India, Korea & U.S). Their main focus is consumer technology, media or ICT industry in general. Highlighted portfolio includes: Moore Corp, YeuAmNhac, Vinagame, Tamtay JSC, FBNC, Cyvee (Media & Entertainment), Apollo Vietnam, VC Corps, Pyramid Consulting (Information & Communication Technology), WebTreTho, Vietnamworks, Vinabook, PeaceSoft, Hocmai.vn, DiaOcOnline (Tech-enabled business), Vinapay, Diadiem JSC (Consumer Product). DFJ Vinacapital: This is also one of the earliest VCs in Vietnam. DFJ is part of Vinacapital and joint-force with Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) network. DFJ Vinacapital leverages on the extensive resource from Vinacapital with 200 companies invested & DFJ with 600 portfolios funded globally. Highlighted investment deals are: Chicilon Media, Timnhanh & Yeah 1! Corporation. CyberAgent Ventures: It is part of CyberAgent Group – in which highlighted investment deals are CleverAds, Nhaccuatui, Colorbox & Tiki.vn. One of their newest startups investments is Seconds, which already reached the series A level.
  33. 33. Page         32   d) Investment Funds Vietnam has not yet set a large amount of investment funds that actually focus on startups these days as the percentage of failure is estimated to be high (around 75%). However, as the startup trend is developed than ever, it seems to have more investment funds established. PVNI (Prosperous Vietnam Investment Corporation) is a venture capital network investing in highly potential startups in Vietnam from $25000 - $250000 in seed, or more in the consecutive rounds. Its current focus is high quality consumer goods and services, green food, high tech, social media and education. This fund brings real-life experiences and capital resources to help outstanding entrepreneurs turn their promising ideas to market-defining and market-leading companies. SAVVi (Strategic Alliance Vietnamese Ventures International) - is a subscription based global platform providing services to those wishing to do business with Vietnamese professionals and Vietnam. Based in the U.S. with chapters in Northern and Southern California, Texas, Vietnam, and France; SAVVi provides an angel investment group, training and consulting. Học+Làm=Giàu investment fund with IDT’s funds (trading, investment and international technology development joint-stock company) and other fund sources: Selecting the brilliant ideas, business solutions to invest. It starts with 5 billion VND, including 1 billion from IDT and 4 billion from others. e) Crowd-funding Crowd-funding is started from 2006 and quite popular in the world, but has just come to Vietnam this year 2013. Basically, it is a platform that startup could raise fund for by calling donations from the community. Appearing in the startup community from 2006 with Pledgie but IndieGoGo (2008) and Kickstarter (2009) are most well-known in the global startup community. There have been some Vietnamese startups successfully raising fund via this new approach, the most popular case is MisFit with $846,675, exceed 850% of their goal, from IndieGoGo.
  34. 34. Page         33   Ig9.vn - is the first crowd funding website in Vietnam. The website has not only attracted startups but also many community projects. Some projects have successfully raised fund from the crowd. Even there are still not many startups choosing this platform to finance their work but it is great that Ig9.vn has brought the awareness of crowd funding to the community in Vietnam. 3.2.3 MENTORS / ADVISORS / CONSULTING FIRMS When startup founders are in trouble with their sustainable business development management, mentors appear to lend entrepreneurs a hand by sharing their lifetime of business experience. From all backgrounds and working fields, mentors are often classified into 3 categories. a) Startup Experts They are serial entrepreneurs with experience in multiple startups fields that successfully grew up and stand solid on the market, or being sold to giant companies. As they have been through a startup life, from an idea to the market, facing different stages of development, dealing with variety of crisis or difficulties, they could be one of the most inspired people to dispense not only experience but the true entrepreneurial spirit to the youth, who aim to be the real entrepreneur. b) Industry Experts They are individuals with an extensiveness of industry-specific experience. At that particular industry, they could be persons considered as top notch industry insiders, adopting broad view of the industry, and probably have catered a lot of market research reports in needs of the industry players. Most of Vietnam industry experts are former business analyst at government offices, head professors in Vietnam business top universities, directors or CEOs. c) Profession Experts Profession Experts are those who currently working on a specific field and have a strong expertise on their profession. They are the one who can train startups with a set of specific
  35. 35. Page         34   skills or give advice on several issues relating to their profession (Law, Accounting, Finance, Marketing, IT, Infrastructure, Operations, etc.). This class of mentors roots from department directors, managers that have experiences crossing various workplaces, from professors of specific-knowledge universities, or institutions in Vietnam, or even from former startup founders, CEOs. These mentors are qualified of having real understanding Vietnam’s business facts within their particular expertise. They helped startups in startup program sessions as consultants of from naming, branding company to legality of the startup company. Each part of startup plans is in want of specific-knowledge mentors that help prepare startups with potential risks ahead, and transport factual solutions or previous implications of others. Several mentors are competent to fit all above categories. In general, Vietnam has plenty of entrepreneurs doing business on, yet the factual number of experienced startup entrepreneurs that could provide and be ready to share relevant advice to overall entrepreneur community is small. Mentors are not many available, plus not many rooms for them to dispense their knowledge like meet-ups or mentorship-promote activities. Hence, mentorship is in high demand for domestic startups. d) Consulting Firms Beside mentorship from mentors or advisors, startups could also seek for help from consulting firms. These are the enterprises which focus is to giving consultancy in their expertise (market analysis, strategic management, strategy, branding, ideation, etc.). Currently, startups when entering those services need to pay for a specific fee and get consulted for a period. However, with the strong mentorship program under the consulting firm, there could be considered as a money-worth investment for positioning the development direction with sustainability. 3.2.4 INCUBATORS / ACCELERATORS Incubators and accelerators are programs designed to support for the development of startups through providing a package of resources, advisory and services. This package varies based on the differences in target startup, market situation and stage or specific demand of startups. In a general understanding, incubators are specially focused more on necessities for a very new
  36. 36. Page         35   startup can feel safe and focus on developing its business by offering office space, business skills training, advisory and access to financing and professional networks. On the other hand, accelerators help companies to get from the stage of incubation into high growth and mature development by providing high-value resources on strategic development. Because of the differences in the demand of startup in different stages, an incubator program usually last from 3 to 6 months and an accelerator program lasts after one year and even longer. Business incubators increase the survival rate and reduce the risk of small business failures. The official website of the National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) of America has also given out the evidence on the impact of incubator and accelerator on startups. Historically, NBIA member incubators have reported that 87 percent of all firms that have graduated from their incubators are still in business. In the general population, 66 percent of new firms survive at least two years, and 44 percent survive at least four years. It is important to note that these figures are not directly comparable, due to differences in survey methodology, time frame and other factors. However, looking at them side by side does strongly suggest that business incubation reduces the risk of small business failure and offers a valuable comparison. Along with the growth of startups, various types of incubators have established to support initial ideas and enforce its development in the startup arena. There are approximately more than 10 incubators in the whole of Vietnam in the two major cities Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh. Some incubators are highly appreciated by startups and have contributed greatly to the positive growth of startup in Vietnam in the past few years. Topica Founder Institute, operated in Vietnam by TOPICA Education Group, is an early- stage startup accelerator and global launch network that helps entrepreneurs create meaningful and enduring technology startups. Through a part-time four-month program, existing and prospective founders could launch their dream companies with professional trainings, constructive feedback, and auxiliary supports from experienced startup CEOs. Topica Founder Institute has been successful create a launching platform for Appota. Beside the Founder Institute, TOPICA has been actively supporting the ICT entrepreneurship in Vietnam with different valuable and impactful programs in incubating and accelerating new technology
  37. 37. Page         36   businesses. It is the one supporting the establishment of the first incubation center in Vietnam: CRC-TOPIC, under the support of World Bank InfoDev. SME Networking and Mentoring (SME) Program – a non-profit project under the authorization of U.S. Embassy launched from 2011 that provides young business people with opportunity to learn and share through mentorship, at the same time a social networking platform to young enterprises. Furthermore, the serial activities of SME program have provided short-term solutions at the same time a foundation to achieve long-term goals of enterprises when they are able to establish a close connection between successful business people and startups. 5DESIRE - is a Vietnamese Incubator and Consulting Firm accelerating startups in different sectors through an array of business resources and services support. Every year, a limited number of the best startups are chosen by 5DESIRE to participate in an incubation program focusing on product development, technology, business strategy, etc. During this incubation process, 5DESIRE works intensively with these budding companies to enable them to thrive and flourish by themselves. 5DESIRE is running a co-working space aiming to gather global entrepreneurs, experts and developers. Becamex Technology & Innovation Center (TIC) - is a large center in Binh Duong (30km from Ho Chi Minh City) that provides support to new startups with free of charge, including space and IT infrastructure rentals with capital, beside giving free consulting services. Furthermore, up to $50,000 in seed funding and its ability to bring world-class mentors from top notch group of consultants are also considered as a valuable support for global-competitive startups from Vietnam like Kleii. VYE Entrepreneurship Bootcamp – is an annual program held by Vietnam Young Entrepreneur (VYE) in collaboration with Stanford Technology Venture Program and Vietnam National University in Ho Chi Minh City. Funded by PVNI, this program aims to bring world-class entrepreneurship education, inspiration and network from major entrepreneurship ecosystem in the world to Vietnam, including Silicon Valley. This program is organized as an incubator for educating founding team and supporting for the development of the early-stage startup. One of the most distinctive points of this program comparing to
  38. 38. Page         37   others is that VYE has been able to bring a wide range of high-profile mentors from around the World, including Professor Tom Kosnik form Stanford University. FPT FICO - is an incubation company operated by FPT University to ignite the entrepreneurial spirit within its students and help them to start their businesses. This initiative of FPT, one of Vietnam’s biggest technology companies, is expected to create a good momentum between FPT, the company the university and the incubators to create more and more startups. mLab - is a program enforcing the development of mobile application community under the support of World Bank. It is also running mobile application competitions to encourage and incubate new ideas of mobile applications. Egg Agency - is a new incubator huddled up outside of Saigon’s city center with a very promising working environment. The real value addition is that it is a growth hacking incubator that brings in new entrepreneurs and runs them through laps of real business to build experience for their own projects. Quang Trung Software City - is an industrial park dedicated to foster the Vietnamese technology industry and one of the key projects in Ho Chi Minh City development plan of the government. This is a center to host several technology universities as well as 100 existing software enterprises and IT services. Half of them are foreign companies. With more than 22,000 people are working and studying and the number is still increasing, this would be a center to give birth to more great startups of Vietnam that could be globally competitive. X-incubator – is an individual technology incubator in Vietnam. It has monthly round of selecting the best qualified 3 startup projects to invest (based on 4 clear criteria). The fund is around 15$ to symbolically support the startups in early stage of turning ideas to practice and introducing the brand new products to the community. The special support based is that the X- incubator administrator consulting freely all problems related to the product launch, bridging relationships to startup expert vibe, and marketing through his media channels in 3 months after the startups selected. The administrator is co-founder and directors of tech startup companies.
  39. 39. Page         38   Apart from those listed above, there are government programs to accelerate and support the startup scene. One of them is the national startup program launched by Vietnam Business Forum powered by Vietnam Chamber of Commercial and Industry with multiple activities at the same time: educate business startup, create a Vietnam startup information gateway listing all the start projects through years, organize idea festivals to attract investors for the projects, build a startup funds to boost startup activities, startup book/flip publication to enrich startup knowledge for Vietnamese, or create startup clubs to bridge incubators and projects. 3.2.5 CO-WORKING SPACE Co-working space is a shared working environment, usually an office, where people from different startups and organizations can come and work together. Co-working space is not only about physical space but also about connecting to a like-minded community in the same space. This model of office solution is attractive to freelancers, self-employed or work-at- home professionals and independent contractors who has no office or wants to escape from distractions at home. Normally, co-working space is cheap but still can provide full basic accommodation for daily working. The Start Center – is a co-working space initiated under the START Network (SAVVi TOPICA Accelerator for Resourcing Technology), which is a World Bank-funded collaboration between SAVVi Investors’ Forum, TOPICA Education Group, and John von Neumann Institute at Vietnam National University HCMC. These ones have been actively connecting and supporting for the ecosystem of startup in Ho Chi Minh City. Furthermore, they are the hubs and links to connect to the local ecosystem to the global network by different activities. Saigon Hub – is a new venture on co-working space of 5 co-founders and 2 investors in Ho Chi Minh City from May 2013. This co-working space not only provides startups with different packages of office solution for startups but also aims to be the center for startups activities. Value added like consultancy and market analysis is also provided.
  40. 40. Page         39   3.2.6 AUXILIARY SERVICES Startup clients frequently request business startup services including: staff recruitment, marketing service, accounting, payrolls, etc. through a provider. For example, one startup may need some marketing on social media like Facebook; they will do a business with some Facebook account owners with high numbers of friends or page likes, or approach a multi- media company to help. Although startups do not have a complicated structure like developed enterprises or corporations, the general and administration management is still in need. With the limitation in human resource and being lack of management experience, those items like recruitment, payrolls, accounting, etc. would be ideal to be outsourced. This matter did lead to the establishment of many agencies that providing auxiliary services. By spending an affordable but worth amount, startups could focus more on their main activities but still ensure the quality of office management. For example, Softlayer provides a rock-solid technical foundation and allows startups to put their resources focus on business development. Technically, SoftLayer offers fast speeds and intricate level of control over the hardware help with a solution package to Vietnam startups in one year free. 3.2.7 COMMUNITY / SOCIAL NETWORK a) Offline Community HATCH! - is a not-for-profit community aiming to unite and build a strong startup ecosystem in Vietnam. Its mission is to be a connecting point between mentors, investors and startups to effectively utilize the available and suitable resources for the development of those startups. HATCH! OPEN is an offline coffee talk for the community, which aims to create an open platform for any individual to come and share his ideas or concerns, contribute to the community and connect to the network. The Start Network – a Ho Chi Minh City based network of physical and Human resources dedicated to supporting technology start-ups and early-stage investors. The network provides resources for tech startups including knowledge, startup library, and especially the links
  41. 41. Page         40   between potential stakeholders. Furthermore, the Start Network aims to build the startup ecosystem. b) Online Community Before 2009, online communities were not yet popular in Vietnam which led startups scattered over small online groups in a particular field and shared little connection with others. However, since 2009, with the development of the internet as well as the development of the 2nd startup generation focusing more on technology, startup communities was established as online community as a communication channels for startups to connect and interact. Online startup community Launch - a relatively strong Vietnam Internet Startup community of developers and startup folks with slogan “Think.Start.Grow.”. The community started in 2009, and was the first one introducing the latest trends, systematic knowledge, or practical experience from world Tech villages to startups in Vietnam. Growing with time as an effective communication platform for startups, the community has created monthly offline events for members inviting domestic successful CEOs coming to share their journeys. Currently Launch has 7851 members building a vibrant and dynamic startup community. It acts as the momentum of startup scene in Vietnam encouraging startups to develop, and leveraging the size of their infrastructures and markets through acting as an open platform for members to breach into small specific groups, to discuss hot topics about Tech in Vietnam, or to create opportunities to meet foreign startup experts coming to Vietnam. In the long run, the community needs more bright ideas contributed and circulated to build activities in order to sustain the flame of startups. Vietnam Start-up Club – is one chain of Start-up Club network throughout Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Philippines, Vietnam, and Australia. The club helps local start-up ecosystem develop by getting startups involved and organize offline meetings for like-minded individuals to expand their network and build business connections. The members actively share knowledge, and support other members if they are in need of professional advice. It also provides media partnerships within the group.
  42. 42. Page         41   3.2.8 GOVERNMENT Vietnam government has launched a significant number of policies, activities, and projects to support domestic startup situation in the past 10 years. Firstly, Vietnam has continuously improved its legal systems to provide a better environment to support the development of new enterprises in the market economy. In 1990, Vietnam adopted for the first time its Enterprise Law. This could be considered as the first positive move of the government in creating a new environment for entrepreneurship. Besides, the New Enterprise Law (NEL), which replaced the two former Laws, was adopted in 1999 and took effect on January 1, 2000. The NEL firmly fostered entrepreneurial spirit in the country. The NEL revoked unnecessary business license restrictions in 145 industries, trades and services, and eased private entry in the market. It also created new channels for private investment funds. The New Enterprise Law clearly defined the governmental administrative function and promoted independent entrepreneurial activities. New regulations on the Business Register that ease the establishment of enterprises have been implemented. Thus, while a new enterprise granting a license under pre-NEL took 98 days on average; under post- NEL, licenses are granted within 15 days. Basically, startup that wants to figure out information on licenses and permits to register its own business could easily access to business registration online services powered by Vietnam government. Since 2003, Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) has started the annual Entrepreneurship Competition for student that has been collected 1500 projects and ideas. Recently, VCCI together with the National Youth Union and Business Forum Newspaper are racing up “Youth Startup Supporting Program” encouraging Vietnamese young people to engage into entrepreneurship. The program run with a series of activities relating to startup: education at local level, information gateway, ideas festivals, startup funds, other written form of information materials, or startup clubs. In September of 2012, Ministry of Science and Technology and Microsoft Vietnam collaborated to launch the “Information Technology Training and Business Startup Center for Youth” project in Hanoi University of Science and Technology.
  43. 43. Page         42   In November 2012, the government approved “Project Preparation and Startup Support Facility”. This facility enabled the Government of Viet Nam to directly support startups in Vietnam, financed by ADB. On December 12th, 2013, The ASEAN Foundation, in cooperation with VCCI had launched “Enhancing ICT Skills of SMEs in ASEAN” Project. The objective of this business accelerator program has been to provide mentorship and assistance for the participating enterprise in implementing ICT to expand its market. The selection of entrepreneur and the content of the project are supported by Microsoft. 3.2.9 UNIVERSITIES / COLLEGES / SCHOOLS a) Campus Activities The campus activities on entrepreneurship in Vietnam are energetic. Most of the university campuses have an entrepreneurship club and some are successful in enforcing entrepreneurial spirit in student. One of the most successful clubs is Tomorrow Entrepreneurs Club of Foreign Trade University in Hanoi with the Kawai Business Startup competition. This competition has been organized annually from 2005 for a wide range of university in Hanoi. Kawai competition, after 8 times of organizing, has received more than 800 entrepreneurial projects from thousands of students from different background: economic, commerce, technology, agriculture and etc. This quality program has received many supports from VCCI and many well-known mentors and organizations. However, these other club are still not impactful enough as they focus more on educating skills and knowledge rather than real world learning-by-doing experiences. Furthermore, lack of connection to the academic unit and the real world business network is also a constraint for those clubs to make more empowerment. On the other hand, for technology-oriented university, some incubation centers have been created for their own students and staff. There has been incubator center in Hanoi University of Science and Technology, Ho Chi Minh University of Technology, Ho Chi Minh Agriculture and Forestry University and FPT University. Those centers have recognized many
  44. 44. Page         43   new innovative and marketable ideas; however, lack of providing a systematic knowledge base on business and the market, these centers are more focus on enhancing technology skills and techniques of students. Beside those activities, talk shows and small scale conferences with experts as guest speakers are also organized in universities, mostly in economic field, to respond to students’ enquiries about startup. b) Education Courses Still not yet see full entrepreneurship course in University. Only apparently one subject or some scattered matters are discussed in business subjects and added by the lecturers due to their own experience. c) Scientific Researches and Graduation Thesis Research on entrepreneurship in Vietnam is not yet developed. Even there has been hundreds of research; however, most of the researches are still narrowed into general topic. Furthermore, hardly we can find a topic specific into ICT startups as it is still new and not much data has been collected. As ICT entrepreneurship is developing, it is important for increasing the supply of entrepreneurship research, supporting for the development of startups. This action is crucial for the community as one of the most critical issues of startup in Vietnam is the lack of market knowledge and information. 3.2.10 COMPLIMENT EVENTS a) Conferences HATCH! FAIR – expected to be annual startup fair competition where 25 best startup projects will be incubated in 2 months and do pitching within3 days in a workshop festival to get funded from investors, plus 2 years under close supervision and support. This upcoming fair tentatively starts in July, 2013. This is going to be the very first startup festival in Vietnam that focuses on the 2month mentorship and 2year support or follow up to assure (guarantee) the sustainable development of a startup idea.
  45. 45. Page         44   Vietnam Mobile Day – is an annual conference for mobile community in Hanoi and HCMC. In this conference, people have opportunities networking and listening to sharing of key persons in the community covering key concerns and important insight about the community and the market in Vietnam. VN Mobile day stands out in mobile developer community due to its technical quality of the presentations which give attendees strong perspectives of mobile landscape in Vietnam. Vietnam Mobile Day is developing year by year with the growing of the mobile community. Vietnam Startup Conference – is an annual conference for startup in Vietnam. It creates a platform for startups networking, educating and sharing with high-profile founders and experts. This conference is to bring together key stakeholders in the Vietnam technology entrepreneurship ecosystem for the purpose of sharing knowledge and building networks to support the formation and development of high-impact new ventures. The first event organized in 2012 in Ho Chi Minh City had attracted a wide range of foreign entrepreneurial stakeholders who are interested in Vietnam market. Barcamp Saigon – is a participant-oriented conference for sharing ideas and experiences that has been organized from 2008. In this event, participants are free to propose for a presentation in any topic. Thus about 100 topics that received the biggest number of vote from other participants will be continuously showcased in the big venue along the one-day conference. Because of its dynamite atmosphere and a wide range of ideas presented from the community, Barcamp Saigon has attracted around 1500 participants each year. Therefore, not only this is an opportunity for sharing and learning but also a great chance for networking in a large scale. Failcon – is a conference for exclusive sharing about failures and mistakes of startup founders. This aims to be a platform for people to learn from their own and others’ failures, get lessons and move forward to achieving success. On the other hand, this conference also has a greater impact of empowering people and encouraging a culture of accepting failures as a normal aspect of starting up. Startup Asia Conference - a large scale 2-day conference brought by Tech in Asia (techinasia.com) focusing on tech startups and entrepreneurship. The conference shows newly launched and product-ready tech startups, along with a huge line-up networking opportunities
  46. 46. Page         45   with numerous industry professionals, startups, investors, corporate and government representatives from all around Asia. The agenda penetrates a fresh and honest insight into the upcoming industry trends. The conference is a great chance for Vietnam startups approaching inside and outside Asia market. About 40 - 50 Vietnam startups joined the event in the 2013 event. DEMO Asia – is a premier platform for companies throughout Asia to launch their products in front of global stakeholders as well as for international companies, who are aiming for the Asia market, to have a chance showcasing their product to the market. A hand-selected group of new products will make a public debut to global press, savvy investors, corporate acquirers, strategic partners, and buyers. DEMO ASEAN - produced by IDG, is a launching pad for emerging technology and trends which is similar to DEMO Asia. DEMO ASEAN will be organized the first time in Vietnam in September 2013 with a 3-day showcase and conference. b) Seminars: Start ME up – a monthly startup event in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam (powered by Keewi’s team and technology) featuring founders, venture capitalists, investors, representatives from big companies around South East Asia and Silicon Valley. Until now, it has organized 8 events featuring 22 speakers. Speakers are invited to share their experience at the events and to engage with local startup community. The idea behind the seminar is “share the inspiration to motivate”. It has the do fireside chats, panel discussions, startup seminars, movie screening with prestigious speakers from Golden Gates Ventures, TechInAsia, JFDI Singapore, SoftLayer, VietnamWorks, etc.. The last event on April 16th, 2013 did attract about 110 participants. c) Competition Events Startup Weekend – is a 54 hours event where developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products and pitch products to mentors, judges and investors. Startup Weekend Vietnam firstly organized in Saigon in 2011 and in Hanoi in 2013, roots from international Startup Weekend.
  47. 47. Page         46   Startup Wheel – is a competition launched by Business Startup Support Center, powered by Youth Union of Ho Chi Minh City, in collaboration with the City’s Young Entrepreneur Association, Youth Union’s Young Science Technology Development Center, and Communist Youth Union in various universities in Ho Chi Minh City. The competition targets to senior students and fresh graduates with start-up desire. The best idea will receive cash prizes sum up to 100 million dongs and the investment opportunities to commercialize those products. Beside the main prizes, the best idea could also receive the investment or zero-interest rate loan up to 500 million dongs in 3 years. Kawai Business Start-up Competition - is a business startup idea contest organized by Tomorrow Entrepreneurs Club of Hanoi Foreign Trade University. This annual competition has been organized from 2005 for a wide range of university in Hanoi. Kawai competition, after 8 times of organizing, has received more than 800 entrepreneurial projects from thousands of students from different background: economic, commerce, technology, agriculture and etc. This quality program has received many supports from VCCI and many well-known mentors and organizations. VYE Startup Race – is a competition providing students with full experiences on the real process of startup, organized also by VYE. The event is focused on building a short term plan within the limitation of financing and time. Startup with Microsoft – is a tech startup competition organized by Information Technology Department of Hanoi University of Science and Technology. Vietnet Center and Microsoft support participants to develop unique ideas for future business startup projects. The competition is one of the constructive activities organized by Microsoft in Vietnam, targeting to students and local labors to enhance technology skills implementing in the reality. d) Other Events HATCH! OPEN – is an offline coffee talk for the community, which aims to create an open platform for any individual to come and share his ideas or concerns, contribute to the community and connect to the network. Each event has a specific topic and one speaker is invited to support for the knowledge and experiences sharing between participants. There have

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