Vietnam’s startup ecosystem is developing strongly thanks to the government’s supporting policies and supporting programmes of startup studios and incubators. Nguyen Ngoc Tuan, head of Sun* Startups, Sun Asterisk Vietnam, discussed with VIR’s Bich Thuy how Sun* Startups braces up startup development.
|Nguyen Ngoc Tuan, head of Sun* Startups |
Songhan Incubator and Sun* Startups will jointly launch their Startup Incubation Programme in May. Besides Songhan Incubator, does Sun* Startups co-operate with any other partner on similar programmes to support startups?
In Vietnam and Japan, we have been in partnership with over 20 partners who are incubators, accelerators or VCs, such as AWS, VSV, Cyber Agent, Genesia, and Reapra. Our mutual support currently consist of technical support, startup referral, information exchange, and collaboration in startup events.
We support startups on a case-by-case basis. When they come to us, we take a good look at them and come up with the most suitable means of support, such as mentoring, technical advisory, even technical or capital investment or connecting them with VCs.
Since March 2020, we have started offering these services in batches. Each batch lasts from 2 to 6 months and startups that are qualified will be put in carefully curated groups to join the same onsite coaching programme before they graduate. This new model allows us to focus our internal resources with a predictable timeline and follow a clear schedule – this way, more partners can join us.
Each batch will be co-hosted by us and one strategic partner chosen specifically for the needs of that batch. Besides, we also have different players who join as supportive partners. They will contribute to the startups according to their business strengths like general business skills training, support in seeking co-founders, and media support, to name a few. In Batch 1, we have Songhan Incubator as a co-host and other supporting partners including ActionCoach_SOTA, HRP, Gitiho; TÁO Startup, Digital Life Magazine, and Enternews.vn.
Sun* Startups welcomes all partners who bring positive values to our startups. We do hope that this new model will help to attract more startups as well as enhance our support to them by a combination of internal and external resources.
What are the differences between Vietnamese and Japanese startups? Which Japanese startups is Sun* Startups focusing on?
In our opinion, the entrepreneurial spirit of the founders is not much different. Whether in Japan or in Vietnam, we all feel the same spirit and desire to change the world. The difference, if any, is reasonable given the differences of the business environment and culture between regions and countries.
In Japan, startups are no longer focused much on solving social and cultural problems. Currently, the big trend for startups in Japan is business-to-business Software as a Service (B2B SaaS).
Normally, depending on the level of social and cultural development, startups tend to start with the business-to-consumer (B2C) model, then the consumer-to-consumer (C2C), and currently, Japan is moving to the B2B SaaS trend. A major feature of B2B is that it is often specialises in a specific industry or field, focusing on improving performance or creating new values for this specialised field.
In Japan, big companies are very strong and existing services have reached high-performance thanks to virtually total digitisation. In Vietnam, we are expecting stronger and booming development in C2C services.
Sun* Startups has so far invested in 15 startups in Vietnam and Japan. What are the future plans of Sun* Startups? In addition to Japan and Vietnam, does Sun* Startups have any plans to venture afield into other markets?
We plan to strengthen startup investments in 2020. Currently, investment activities are concentrated mainly in Japan and Vietnam, but we have just completed a number of Series A investment deals in Thailand.
Our vision is not only to invest in Japan and Vietnam but also to build and invest in startup ecosystems concentrated in ASEAN countries. We look forward to dedicating to entrepreneurs in terms of engineering and creativity.