Vietnam’s tech startup scene is rapidly emerging. I am therefore excited to be part of the delegation visiting the country next week as part of the New Zealand’s ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative.
The trip is also timely. We recently announced that Simmonds Stewart will be opening a Singapore branch office in February 2017. We advise many startups, high-growth tech businesses and venture capital funds across Southeast Asia, including in Vietnam. It is therefore a great opportunity to make new connections within the local tech ecosystem. Also, to understand what opportunities there are for Kiwi tech businesses to sell, partner and generally do business in Vietnam and the wider Southeast Asian region.
Global tech business, such as the likes of Samsung, have for some time had hi-tech manufacturing bases in Vietnam. However, the days of just being part of a manufacturing supply chain could be over. An increasing amount of RnD is now carried out in Vietnam and the country is producing thousands of computer scientists and software developers each year. Alongside this, the entrepreneurial ecosystem is flourishing, particularly for those startups focusing on the booming ecommerce sector, but also for payments and logistics solutions, which support that space.
During my time based in Southeast Asia, all the talk amongst the VC community was about Singapore and Indonesia. Indeed, according to Tech-in-Asia earlier this year those two counties still outpace their neighbours in terms of tech investment. But this may change. Driven by a tech savvy population with a median age of around 30, the Vietnamese technology sector is growing fast. An estimated 40 million of the 90 million population are now on the internet. Like many other emerging tech economies in the region, Vietnam’s mobile-first market is creating lots of opportunities for disruption.
Venture capital firms have taken note. Money regularly flows into Vietnam startups from investors in the US, Singapore and Japan, amongst others. If there was previously a gap in seed investments, this has partly been addressed earlier this year when 500startups announced their Vietnam focussed US$10 million fund targeting up to 150 investments into Vietnamese startups.
During the trip we will visit leading ICT businesses and the Kiwi Connection tech hub, based in Vietnam’s largest software park and operated by NZ’s Augen Software Group. Plus we’ll hopefully learn a little about the ecosystem through meeting startup founders, investors and other tech participants. We’ll end up at Echelon Vietnam, one of the region’s best tech conferences, which has some great local and international speakers lined up, some of whom are friends of Simmonds Stewart.
Once I have got over the jet lag, I will report back in a week or so on the experience, and with some tips for NZ tech businesses.
by lee bagshaw, 11 November 2016