Japan funds display diverse temptation

October 15, 2021 | 08:00
Japan has been among the biggest foreign investors in Vietnam through greenfield ventures as well as mergers and acquisitions. Yuto Kono, principal and head of Genesia Ventures Vietnam, explained to VIR’s Thanh Van how Japanese funds are preparing the next generation of Vietnamese unicorns.

Why are more Japanese venture capital funds targeting the Vietnamese market?

Japan funds display diverse temptation
Yuto Kono, principal and head of Genesia Ventures Vietnam

Genesia Ventures targets the Vietnam market for two main reasons – the scale of the fast-growing economy and the high-quality young human resources. Vietnam is considered one of the most dynamic young economies in the region, with the size of its economy reaching about $343 billion.

In particular, the scale of the digital economy is constantly growing and it is predicted that by 2025, it can account for 20 per cent of GDP. Vietnam ranked third in the region after Singapore and Indonesia in terms of attractive destinations for startup investors who believe in the potential of the economy and the digital economy in particular.

Secondly, Vietnam, with a population of more than 98 million people, has a young population with a labour force of more than 74 per cent. Vietnamese people have a tradition of upholding the role of education, having a progressive spirit, being eager to learn, and with a desire to have a better life. We also witness a large force of young Vietnamese studying and working abroad and seeing opportunities in their homeland, who have returned to start a business and dedicate themselves to the country.

These are extremely important factors for everyone, including Genesia Ventures, because we have a common belief in Vietnam’s great development potential.

How important is the Vietnamese market when it comes to Genesia Ventures’ investment strategy?

Vietnam is one of the three most important markets for Genesia Ventures. We started investing in Vietnamese startups after our inception in 2016 and we feel that the startup ecosystem, including entrepreneurs, investors, the government, and corporations, is growing rapidly every year.

We also feel that global investors, including those from Japan, are increasingly paying attention to Vietnam, and we are convinced that it will become an even more exciting market. The country is also a very important partner for Japan. We believe that we have a role to play as a bridge between Vietnamese and Japanese companies, and we would like to contribute to the collaboration and further development of both.

Genesia Ventures has so far invested in eight startups in Vietnam so far – Homedy, Luxstay, Kamereo, Manabie, eDoctor, BuyMed, Vietcetera, and Fundiin. If you look at our portfolios, you might realise that we are very sector agnostic, and do not focus on any specific industry. Basically, we are interested in any industry that has big enough pain points to be solved, with a big potential market size. We are excited to have more investments in the pipeline, and we are moving aggressively towards those opportunities in Vietnam.

Many foreign funds from China, South Korea, Singapore, and Indonesia are investing in Vietnam’s startup ecosystem. What are the benefits for Vietnamese startups when receiving investment from Japanese funds in particular?

As a Japanese-based venture capital fund investing in multinational markets mainly in Japan and Southeast Asia, and with a team on the ground in Vietnam, we are actively contributing various values to Vietnam’s startup ecosystem.

We ensure the best practices, with valuable insights and years of experience of investing and closely supporting startups in different markets that can be leveraged in supporting our startups in Vietnam. In particular, in Japan, we have gone through trial and error and accumulated long-term business experience.

Genesia Ventures’s founder, Soichi Tajima, has more than 15 years of experience in startup investing and has supported many startups. Among them, many have had successful initial public offerings in the Japanese market and are now playing roles as the driving force and backbone of the Japanese economy.

Hopefully, with those startup investments and support experiences, we can continue to support many Vietnamese startups to achieve sustainable development.

In addition, with team members on the ground locally with a deep understanding of the markets, building valuable networks with Japanese and local corporates, experts, and talents, we are more able to effectively to support startups in this country.

By Thanh Van

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