|Jesse Choi, CEO of Sunwah Innovations and director of Sunwah Vietnam talked about Vietnam’s market entry opportunities and strategy|
The webinar received around 100 participants including experts and representatives of corporates, startups, universities, incubators and accelerators, venture capital firms, and business associations from Vietnam and neighbouring countries and territories including Cambodia, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, China, and Hong Kong.
Vietnam has seen significant improvements in developing a dynamic and open business environment. In the post-pandemic period, the country stands firm as one of the most attractive destinations in the Southeast Asian region for foreign investors and businesses including venture capital firms and startups.
Realising an increasing need from overseas startups and supporting organisations to explore and gain footholds in the market, Sunwah Innovations organised the Vietnam Market Entry Opportunities and Strategy webinar.
It was a sharing channel to discuss the characteristics and trends of the Vietnamese startup ecosystem and to help foreign businesses gain in-depth knowledge about the policies and support from the Vietnamese government for entrepreneurial and innovation-related activities that make Vietnam an appealing destination for international startups.
In his welcome remarks, Jesse Choi, CEO of Sunwah Innovations and director of Sunwah Vietnam said, "Since our first operation in 2018, Sunwah Innovations has been working with local and international partners to organise many meaningful programmes for the Vietnamese startup community.”
“These include bringing Vietnamese startups to Hong Kong to participate in the international startup competition organised by the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks and the recent international seminar co-organised with the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Science and Technology on introducing the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area,” he added. “Today's webinar is also another effort by Sunwah Innovations to promote exchanges and sharing experiences among stakeholders in the local and international startup ecosystems.”
|Do Tien Thinh, deputy director of the NIC|
As shared by Do Tien Thinh, deputy director of the NIC, the Vietnamese government has introduced many mechanisms and policies to attract and support foreign direct investment enterprises, including foreign startups.
The Law on Investment (2020) clearly states that innovative startup projects, innovation centres, and research and development enterprises are the beneficiaries of investment incentives, including import tax exemptions for certain types of goods, exemptions or reductions of land use levy and rent, increases in the amount of time and deductible expenses when calculating the tax on asset depreciation, and many more.
Thinh also noted that the government is in the process of simplifying procedures for foreign investors to set up innovative small- and medium-sized businesses and startup funds in Vietnam.
Thinh highlighted eight factors that make Vietnam a magnet for foreign-invested enterprises such as political stability, a young population, a high-quality talent pool, and extensive international integration.
Cong Thang Huynh, co-founder and director of InnoLab Asia – the execution and consulting partner on innovation for the Open Innovation Vietnam Initiative under Vietnam's Ministry of Science and Technology – shared the same view with the NIC deputy director on the attractiveness of the Vietnamese market.
However, he emphasised that foreign businesses should go through a market entry framework of four main steps, including analysing market potential, understanding the competition landscape, and reflecting on their own capabilities and financial implications for at least three months before starting the go-to-market plan in Vietnam.
Huynh highly recommended overseas startups to join local incubators or accelerators to validate the market potential, optimise the product-market fit, and accelerate their market entry.
The panel discussion also featured many valuable insights from experts including Tim Lee, co-founder and CEO of CARRECT – a South Korean entrepreneur choosing Vietnam for his startup business – Vinnie Lauria, founding partner of Golden Gate Ventures, and Kevin Vuong, incubation manager of the Institute of Innovation under the Ho Chi Minh City University of Economics.
|All the panellists were impressed with the growth of the Vietnamese startup ecosystem|
All the panellists were impressed with the growth of the Vietnamese startup ecosystem and highly positive about the potential for overseas startups and investment funds to tap into. A record high of $1.3 million in venture capital investment was poured into the ecosystem, with fintech firms, medtech organisations, e-commerce, SaaS, and B2B services as the prominent sectors. Agritech, greentech, deeptech, and foodtech are also promising areas that are likely to boom in the next few years.
Huynh said, “The recent generation of Vietnamese entrepreneurs carries a regional mindset when starting up businesses, which opens opportunities for foreign founders to co-found local startups and utilise local insights when expanding their business into Vietnam.”
Lauria added, “Doubling down on Vietnam with two offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Golden Gate Ventures showed its commitment to increasing investments in the country and also enhancing the going-global capability of its ecosystem so Vietnam can be an important gateway for startups to expand regionally.”
Though starting his operation in Vietnam right on the first outbreak of the pandemic, Tim Lee was also confident that Vietnam is a good launchpad for his startup to expand to Southeast Asia thanks to the strong economic recovery and soaring digital demands post-pandemic. Finding the right partners by engaging in the ecosystem and leveraging the networks of the investors was a key to CARRECT’s growth in Vietnam.
Relationships and trust-building are highly important for overseas companies to succeed in Vietnam when the role of cross-border ecosystem builders and local support organisations comes into play, said Katie Nguyen. Inheriting an extensive local network from over 50 years of doing business in Vietnam, Sunwah Innovations is dedicated to being a local connector and supporting international startups to explore the market.
During the webinar, speakers also shared about challenges and recommended approaches when doing business in Vietnam and exchanged thoughts on how to better provide more support for the market penetration plans of foreign startups.
After this webinar, two selected foreign startups with solid go-to-market plans for Vietnam will have the opportunity for a one-on-one discussion with representatives from Innolab Asia and Sunwah Innovations to receive feedback and recommendations for a smooth entrepreneurial start in the country.
By Nguyen Huong
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