Source: Topica Founder Institute

Up to US$291 million was poured into Vietnamese start-ups last year, a year-on-year increase of 42 per cent, according to a recent report by Topica Founder Institute (TFI).

Ninety-two start-ups received investment last year, almost a double from 2016.

Domestic investors accounted for 64 deals, while foreign investors made 28.

For the first time, local venture capitalists and angels bypassed foreigners in deal count. However, foreign investors still generated higher deal value.

The amount domestic investors poured into Vietnamese start-ups in the past year was only $46 million, relatively modest compared with the $245 million from foreign investors.

Among investors, 500 Startups led in successful investment deals, with 11 acquisitions, followed by ESP Capital, a new homegrown venture capital firm.

With $20 million in establishing funds, ESP Capital is focused on technology start-up companies in their beginning stages (pre-seed and seed funding stages), with investment funds from $50,000 to $300,000.

Thanks to the rise of domestic investment funds, Vietnamese firms like VIISA, ESP, VSV, 500 Startups Việt Nam and Shark Tank have completed 49 early-stage deals last year.

Formerly known as a “unicorn” startup in Asia, Sea Group (formerly Garena) topped the list of investors pouring capital into Vietnamese start-ups last year.

The report said that Sea paid $64 million to acquire an 82 per cent of stake in Foody, a restaurant review start-up.

Besides, Sea also acquired two top Fintech and logistic players. The details are undisclosed but the value is estimated at up to $50 million.

CyberAgent Ventures, a venture capital fund from Japan, continues to be one of the most active funds in Việt Nam.

The fund successfully exited four deals this year with Foody, CleverAds, Tiki and Vexere.

In addition, the Norwegian telecommunication company Telenor’s acquisition of 701Search, regional holding of, a local classified site, for $109 million was one of the notable deals to watch within the Vietnamese start-up ecosystem.

E-commerce attracts capital

E-commerce leads the list of capital attractors.

According to observers, with a growth rate of about 22 per cent a year, the Vietnamese e-commerce market is a lucrative slice for businesses with investments from many domestic and foreign tech giants.

Specifically, there are 21 e-commerce investment deals conducted with a total value of $83 million last year.

In particular, Tiki has received a Series C investment up to $54 million from investors and STC Investment.

Meanwhile, Sea, which is well-known for managing and operating popular games, is taking over two Vietnamese start-ups in this field.

Sea CEO Forrest Li shared with the media that the company is moving toward e-commerce. The acquisition of the two start-ups in Việt Nam was driven by the attractiveness of the e-commerce market here, reported Thời báo kinh tế Việt Nam (Việt Nam Economic Times).

Following e-commerce is foodtech with the presence of Foody, Cooky and an undisclosed platform and social community related to food and restaurants, at a total deal size of $65 million.

Fintech ranked third, with eight investment deals, worth $57 million.

Media is also one of the hot areas with nine deals and more than $18 million in deal value.

Logistics and online travel are also included in the list with five deals in total, valued at $18 million and $10 million, respectively, with some big names including Vntrip and Inspitrip.

Source: Topica Founder Institute