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Jul 02, 2022 / 15:20

Ascend Vietnam Ventures seeks building global startups in Vietnam

Ascend Vietnam Ventures has exceeded its US$50 million target for its flagship early-stage venture capital fund, AVV Alpha.

Ascend Vietnam Ventures (AVV), the fund led by Binh Tran and Eddie Thai, is seeking the next wave of globally iconic startups emerging from Vietnam.

 Eddie Thai is speaking at a growth event for founders. Photos: AVV

The team has increased its investments in startups in Vietnam, seeding up to US$2 million into 25 startups next year and following on with checks of up to $5 million.

With the new fund, AVV has been exploring a broad range of tech opportunities including those in financial inclusion, education, and future of work.

AVV Alpha is backed by a mix of investors from Asia, Europe, and the US, including development finance institutions, funds, corporate VCs, and high-net-worth individuals from leading local and regional companies. 

It has picked ten startups in the past nine months, including Kilo (SaaS & wholesale marketplace for over 30,000 micro-small-medium-sized retailers across Vietnam), Virtual Internships (remote internship placement & management platform for companies in over 70 countries worldwide), T&C Logistics (ecommerce fulfillment platform starting in Vietnam), Mandu (social commerce platform focused on reseller enablement).

Binh Tran said Vietnam’s dynamism, accessibility, low cost of living, as well as abundant quality engineering talent attract many founders. “On top of that, many tech solutions built here can address similar challenges and customer behaviors in other emerging markets worldwide. Vietnam will continue to be seen as one of the best places to build global or regional market-leading companies,” he underlined.

Being of the same mind, Dave Richards, Managing Partner at Capria Ventures, said: “Vietnam’s start-up ecosystem has demonstrated rapid growth, unique solutions, and the ability to create meaningful differences at scale.”

Capria has chosen to invest in AVV because of their extensive knowledge and networks in Vietnam, positive track record as entrepreneurs themselves and as investors in the next generation of top startups in the region, he added. “This is Capria’s first partnership in Vietnam and we look forward to contributing to a fast-growing vibrant digital economy.”

A fundraising training in AVV' SHINE woman-focused incubator. 

AVV’s commitment to back diverse founders led to the development of its SHINE women founder initiatives, launched in partnership with the Australian Government’s Investing in Women initiative.

Since its inception in early 2021, SHINE has organized training, mentoring, and community-building programs for 60+ women entrepreneurs and executives, helping them advance their growth, people & leadership, and capital strategies as well as expand their support network. 

Sarah Hooper, Consul-General of the Australian Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City said: “The Australian Government prioritizes gender equality and recognises the power of investments in women-led enterprises to contribute to inclusive economic growth. We are pleased to support AVV’s work in facilitating resources and opportunities for women founders in Vietnam and we expect to see more investors adopting a gender lens in this fast-growing and dynamic country."

Speaking about AVV’s support, Linh Dang, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer at Mandu shared: “After investment, it all comes down to who can genuinely advise and support. I could not be more appreciative of the hands-on support we have received from AVV ranging from guidance on strategy and culture to timely encouragement to ensure we achieve our vision.”

 “All that we have gained in the last seven years - an amazing team, a wide range of local and global partners, extensive experience investing and supporting startups, and an active community of exceptional founders - will be carried over into AVV,” shared Tran.

Tran and Thai have been investing together in Vietnam since 2015 and have backed home-grown international successes such as Axie Infinity (NFT gaming unicorn, later backed by a16z and Accel), ELSA (AI-driven edtech, later backed by Google’s AI-focused fund), and Trusting Social (financial inclusion fintech, later backed by Sequoia).