The Vietnamese's tech scene is a hotbed of innovations and opportunity, with over 3,800 startups, including four unicorns: VNG, VNPay, Sky Mavis, and MoMo. The country's digital economy reached $23 billion in 2022 and is expected to be the fastest-growing market in Southeast Asia, growing to $49 billion by 2025.
If you’re in a leadership role in an IT or SaaS company, such as a CEO, a CTO, or an HR manager, you might be interested in exploring this country’s tech scene and finding potential business partners. Here, we’ve got you covered. By reading this guide, you’ll gain valuable insights and connections that can help achieve your business goals.
1. The Vietnamese’s tech scene: Recent successes and milestones
1.1. The rise of the unicorns
Vietnam has achieved remarkable growth in the tech sector in recent years, thanks to its cost-effective and strong strategic location. One of the most notable achievements is the emergence of four unicorn startups, namely VNG, VNPay, Sky Mavis, and MoMo. These are startups that have reached a valuation of over $1 billion.
VNG: a leading internet company that operates popular online platforms like Zalo (a messaging app), Zing (a news portal), and ZaloPay (a digital wallet).
VNPay: a fintech company that provides payment solutions for banks, merchants, and consumers.
Sky Mavis: a blockchain gaming company that created Axie Infinity, a game that allows players to earn cryptocurrency by breeding and battling virtual pets.
MoMo: an e-wallet and e-payment platform that has over 31 million users and partners with more than 70 banks and financial institutions.
Notably, VNG has made a name for itself in the global market. Their game products have been downloaded more than 261 million times, mostly in South Asia, South America, and Southeast Asia. Particularly, Dead Target, one of their most successful games, has been downloaded 155 million times, mainly in Asia and North America. VNG also launched Gunny Origin, a game that ranked second in total pre-orders on the iOS app store in Taiwan and fifth in Hong Kong.
1.2. The attraction of foreign investments
Another milestone of the Vietnamese’s tech scene is the attraction of foreign investments from global tech giants such as Google, Facebook, Samsung, Microsoft, Intel, and Apple. These companies have established their presence in Vietnam by setting up research and development centers, manufacturing facilities, or offices.
For example, Samsung has invested over $18 billion in Vietnam since 2008. Google has launched several initiatives to support the development of Vietnam’s digital ecosystem, including the Google for Startups Accelerator, Google Cloud Region, and YouTube Partner Program. Besides, Facebook has collaborated with local partners to launch Facebook Community Boost. This program provides digital skills training for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
1.3. Vietnam’s most active fintech investors
Y Combinator: an American startup accelerator that has invested in seven Vietnamese tech startups, for instance, Gimo, Anfin, Infina, and Nano Technologies.
Jungle Ventures: A firm from Singapore that funds Asian tech innovators. It has backed Vietnamese fintech startups like Medici, Timo, and KiotViet.
Goodwater Capital: a US-based VC firm that specializes in consumer technology. It has invested in MoMo, Anfin, and Nano Technologies.
VSV Capital: a Vietnamese government initiative that supports technology startups in Vietnam. It has funded fintech startups such as Trusting Social, Finhay, and Money Lover.
500 Global Vietnam: a US$14 million fund that invests in Vietnam-connected startups. It has 15 startups in its portfolio, including Papaya, Bizzi, and Sky Mavis.
VinaCapital Ventures: a US$100 million Vietnam-focused VC platform that invests in and builds world-class technology companies. It has 18 companies in its portfolio, which includes Fundiin, Wee Digital, and Timo.
Zone Startups Vietnam: an accelerator program that helps startups grow and succeed. It connects startups with investors, corporate partners, and advisors. This part of the global network of Zone Startups programs has 30 startups in its portfolio (e.g., Ezin and Fundiin).
1982 Ventures: a firm in Singapore that funds fintech startups in their early stages in Southeast Asia. It has 21 companies in its portfolio, some of which are Infina and Fundiin.
1.4. The development of cutting-edge technologies
Aside from attracting foreign investments, Vietnam has developed its cutting-edge technologies in various fields like artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, fintech, e-commerce, edtech, health tech, and gaming. Some examples of innovative technologies developed by Vietnamese startups are:
FPT.AI: an AI platform that offers solutions for natural language processing, computer vision, speech recognition, and chatbot.
Abivin: a logistics optimization platform that uses AI and big data to help enterprises reduce costs and improve efficiency.
ELSA Speak: an AI-powered app that helps users improve their English pronunciation and speaking skills.
Medlink: a health tech platform that connects pharmacies with drug suppliers and provides data analytics for inventory management.
Beeketing: an e-commerce automation platform that helps online sellers increase sales and conversions.
VNGO: a gaming company that produces hit titles such as Dead Target, Sky Dancer Run, and King Rivals.
2. Emerging trends and opportunities in Vietnam’s tech scene
As the Vietnamese’s tech scene continues to grow and evolve, new trends and opportunities are emerging for both local and foreign players.
2.1. Telcos can use mobile money to win the payment battle in Vietnam
Vietnam has a large population of people who do not have bank accounts or access to financial services. This is about 70% of the country’s population. Mobile money, which does not require a bank account or an e-wallet, could be a solution for them.
This digital medium of exchange allows users to send and receive money using their phone numbers. The three main telecom operators in Vietnam, Viettel, VNPT, and Mobifone, are competing to offer mobile money services and gain an advantage in the payment market.
2.2. Vietnam’s pro tech sector: What’s next after the first wave of disruption?
Vietnam is entering a new phase of property technology, or proptech, after the first wave of innovation. The market leader, Batdongsan.com.vn, was bought by a Singaporean company in 2018, and another major player, Muabannhatdat.vn, closed down in 2020. This means new companies can enter the market and offer new and better ways of doing things in the property industry.
2.3. Vietnam and China: Exploring the opportunities of cross-border eCommerce
Vietnam has a booming e-commerce market that offers many opportunities for foreign businesses and investors. With a large and young population, high internet and smartphone usage, and growing online spending, it’s an attractive destination for e-commerce. Indeed, according to a forecast by the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), online shoppers in Vietnam spent more money per person in 2022, with an estimated range of $260 to $285 per user. Many Vietnamese consumers shop online from international sources, especially from China, which has a strong e-commerce industry and advanced logistics networks.
As more people shop across borders and China’s e-commerce market becomes more integrated, there are huge opportunities to reach more customers, offer high-quality products, and use advanced logistics networks for smooth operations. Businesses can take advantage of these opportunities to build a strong market position and succeed in the dynamic e-commerce environment of Vietnam and China.
2.4. Vietnam: A hotspot for tech innovation opportunities
Vietnam is a rising star in the tech startup scene, attracting more and more foreign investment from global players. The country has all the ingredients for creating successful tech firms, such as a young and tech-savvy population, a strong education system, affordable labor costs, and favorable trade agreements.
Furthermore, it has more startups per capita than Indonesia, China, and India. This shows the country’s vibrant and innovative potential. As one of the fastest-growing tech scenes in Asia, new startups in Vietnam will achieve an increasing amount of investment over the next decade.
3. Best practices and tips for finding and working with potential business partners in the Vietnamese’s tech scene
On the one hand, Vietnam’s tech scene offers many opportunities for potential business partners. On the other hand, it is also important to be aware of the best practices and tips for finding and working with them.
3.1. How to find and leverage the best opportunities in the local tech sector
They’re one of the most effective ways to meet and connect with potential business partners. Various organizations and communities like Techfest, Startup Grind, Tech in Asia, and Startup Vietnam Foundation organize many networking events. These events provide a platform for entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, experts, and enthusiasts to exchange ideas, share experiences. and explore collaborations.
These platforms offer various services and resources for startups and investors, including matching, funding, mentoring, and training. Some of the platforms that are popular in this country are e27, Betapage, AngelList, and Crunchbase. With them, you can discover, follow, contact, and evaluate startups and investors based on your profiles, portfolios, and ratings
Incubators and accelerators
Lots of incubators and accelerators offer various programs and support for startups, such as seed funding, mentorship, training, and networking. VIISA, Zone Startups Vietnam, 500 Startups Vietnam, ThinkZone, and Hatch Ventures are some of the incubators and accelerators that are active in Vietnam. They’ll help you validate your ideas, refine your products, scale your businesses, and connect with investors.
Mentors and experts
They have extensive experience and knowledge in the tech sector and are willing to share their insights, advice, and connections with startups and investors. As far as we know, the mentors and experts that are well-known in Vietnam include Le Hong Minh (founder and CEO of VNG), Nguyen Thanh Nghia (founder and CEO of Sky Mavis), Pham Thanh Hung (founder and CEO of CenGroup), Binh Tran (general partner of 500 Startups Vietnam), etc. You can reach them through channels like networking events and platforms.
Reliable partner for tech staffing in Vietnam
To tap into the potential of the Vietnamese’s tech scene, you need a trusted and experienced partner who can provide you with the best IT talent and solutions in the region. That’s why you should consider JT1, Vietnam’s leading tech recruitment agency.
JT1 has years of experience in sourcing and hiring software engineers, technical leaders, project managers, CTOs, and more for various sectors and functions. Moreover, we offer flexible pricing packages, guarantee options, and payroll outsourcing services to suit your budget and needs. You can visit our website here or contact us to learn more about our services and achievements.
3.2. How to deal with cultural and language differences and trust issues
Cultural and language barriers
Importantly, you’re aware of and respect cultural differences and norms, such as communication styles, etiquette, values, and beliefs. Besides, we recommend that you learn some basic Vietnamese words and phrases, or use a reliable translation tool or service, to facilitate communication and understanding.
Trust and rapport
You should be honest, transparent, and reliable in all interactions and transactions. Moreover, show genuine interest and appreciation for the partner’s business, vision, and goals. Establishing regular communication and feedback channels and celebrating achievements and milestones together is also advisable.
3.3. Examples of successful partnerships
Grab and Moca
Grab, a Singapore-based ride-hailing and delivery giant, partnered with Moca, a Vietnamese e-wallet and e-payment startup, in 2018 to offer cashless payment options for Grab users in Vietnam. The partnership has enabled Grab to expand its services and reach more customers in the country. Meanwhile, Moca has benefited from Grab’s large user base and brand recognition.
2359 Media and JT1
2359 Media, a software solutions company based in Singapore needed more talent for their projects, but they struggled to find qualified developers in the market. That’s when they decided to partner with JT1. We helped them hire mid-level and senior developers for their internal and external needs. We also provided 2359 Media with two-week aftersales support after each hire.
JT1 has a large database of developers and a strong network in the Vietnamese’s tech scene. We screened the candidates thoroughly and only sent them the ones who passed their online test and met their requirements. Our efforts paid off when 2359 Media could find and deploy skilled developers in Vietnam.