The effort is led by Binh Tran and Eddie Thai, two partners 500 Startups hired last year, and it is its first in Vietnam and latest in a series of country-led initiatives. In Asia over the past year, 500 Startups has introduced funds in Japan ($30 million), Korea ($15 million), India ($25 million) and Thailand ($12 million), and doubled the size of its kitty for Southeast Asia to $20 million.
Vietnam is viewed as promising for a number of reasons. The country has a 90 million population, over half of whom are aged under 30, and is a mobile-first market with huge potential for technology and internet businesses. To date, politics and culture are among the factors that have prevented international VCs setting up shop in the country in droves, but Thai hopes to push things forward.
“The timing is right,” he told TechCrunch in an interview. “Ten years ago when VCs first came here there were around four million internet users, now there are around 40 million. There really is potential to grow connectivity, income and spending.”