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500 Startups Vietnam grabs $14M to invest in local companies

500 Startups has set its sights on Vietnam, a historically dormant market that’s recently emerged as one of the most rapidly-expanding tech ecosystems in Southeast Asia.
The Silicon Valley startup accelerator and venture capital fund has raised $14 million for 500 Startups Vietnam, it’s Ho Chi Minh City-based micro-fund focused on Vietnam-headquartered startups or companies catering to the Vietnamese market. The fund launched in March 2016 with a $10 million target to capitalize on a new cohort of internet-era startups.
500 Startups partners Eddie Thai and Binh Tran manage the fund. Thai is the former director of CJ CGV Vietnam, a cinema and film distribution company; and Tran is the co-founder and former chief technology officer of the social influence tool Klout, which sold to Lithium Technologies for $200 million in 2014.
“Several years ago, Vietnam was not an obvious tech investment destination: the country was poor … fraught with bureaucracy, and struggling to create an ecosystem for the few, disconnected founders and even fewer active angels and VCs,” Thai wrote in a blog post. “But entrepreneurial folks did see elements of something special: a fast-growing economy; a substantial supply of low-cost, high-tech talent; and a broad & experienced Vietnamese diaspora increasingly interested to reconnect with and contribute to the country. A new wave of tech founders decided to take the plunge.”
500 Startups Vietnam has funneled a total of $3 million in 36 companies to date. It invests across industries, including e-commerce, edtech and blockchain. The partners plan to back up to 64 more companies, writing checks sized between $100,000 and $250,000.

Google report: Southeast Asia’s digital economy to triple to $240 billion by 2025
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