2016 - the year of startups
Startups and the ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ were talked about more than ever before in 2016.
Government, international institutions, investors show interest
The government of Vietnam chose 2016 as the entrepreneurship year, while the project on supporting a startup ecosystem by 2025 was approved by the Prime Minister. At least 2,000 startup projects would receive support.
In June 2016, Deputy PM Vuong Dinh Hue commented at a big conference that Vietnam had taken a strong step in the path of entrepreneurship. However, he noted that Vietnamese startups are still facing big difficulties in capital arrangement. He suggested establishing a stock market specifically reserved for startups, assigning the State Securities Commission to draw up the plan.
The government also took action in an effort to encourage the ‘entrepreneurial spirit’. Article No 292 of the 2015 Criminal Code on providing illegal services on computers and telecommunication networks was removed, allowing startups to proceed when carrying out experiments with software products or online services.
In 2016, the Vietnamese startup community had a golden opportunity to meet and talk with US President Obama during his official visit to Vietnam in mid-year.
Startups receive huge investments
The year saw a series of startups receiving huge investments. These included MoMo, a e-wallet which successfully called for $28 million, GotIt $9 million and Vntrip $3 million.
Some other projects reportedly received similar amounts of capital, though they did not reveal the investment capital.
The investments came from famous investors in Silicon Valley, venture funds in Asia and from funds in Vietnam.
Many projects have become well known as they won international prizes, such as Elsa the app for learning English, which defeated 1,200 rivals to win the SXSWedu competition. Meanwhile, Monkey Junior got a gold prize for the best startup at Asean ICT Awards.
In late 2016, the public was stirred up by the news that DesignBold had a record revenue of VND3 billion just after two weeks in the market. It was listed by many prestigious websites as one of the most excellent design tools.
In 2016, a Vietnamese media startup – Bigcat – was bought by foreign investors at a price of up to $1 million.
Vietnam also saw some failures in 2016. In August 2016, Lingo.vn, an e-commerce website, officially stopped its operation. One month later, the startup’s fanpage showed information that it had to stop operation because of the investors.
Dao Chi Anh, the founder of The KAfe, had to leave the beverage chain after receiving investment from foreign investors.
Most recently, Vntrip.vn denounced Agoda, a foreign service provider doing business in Vietnam, of evading tax. MOF has been asked to reconsider the denouncement and give an exact answer prior to January 12.
Kim Chi, VNN