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Jun 02, 2021 / 15:17

Investors interest more Vietnam proptech startups

Proptech, standing for property and technology, is expected to tackle the current problems of Vietnamese real estate.

The real estate market in recent years has witnessed the boom of investment activities involved in technology or proptech in all aspects is a trend globally and domestically. Many deals have been sealed between local startups and foreign investors.  

 Many Vietnamese proptech startups are attractive to investors. Photo: propzy

Series of funding 

The latest additional US$1.3-million investment of Go2Joy, the Vietnam-based hotel-hourly booking app, to its Series A round has stirred the proptech market amid Covid-19 uncertainties. 

This was the second time the startup successfully raised funds this year. In February, it obtained US$2.3 million in a Series A+ funding round led by HB Funding and Platform Companions Asset Administration. 

Last February, it closed a Series A+ funding spherical of US$2.5 million led by STIC Ventures, KB Investment, Wonik Investment Partners, and Wadiz Platform. With the investment, the startup plans to expand its scale into Southeast Asia and become the leader in the region.

Citics, a Vietnamese proptech startup, raised US$1 million in a pre-series A round from a group of international and domestic investors in March. The investors include Vulpes Investment Management, a seed investor in Singapore-based unicorn PropertyGuru, Vietnamese company Nextrans, and South Korea’s TheVentures.

The startup has raised US$700,000 from multiple angel investors, many of whom also participated in this round.

Also in March, Homebase, the Vietnamese startup, received US125,000 from the US-based accelerator Y Combinator. Last December, it mobilized an undisclosed sum in a pre-series A funding spherical led by VinaCapital, US venture capital company Pegasus, and Singapore’s 1982 Ventures.

Last year, Infina (formerly RealStake), as a digital investment platform where investors can invest with US$1,000, also closed a seed funding from the 500 Startups Vietnam venture capital fund and well-known angel investors. 

Reasons for increasing investment

Covid-19 has negatively affected the traditional models of renting and buying property but opened the opportunity for proptech startups focusing on leasing, project management, and sales in a bid to meet the housing gap. 

Neil MacGregor, General Manager of Savills Vietnam, said that the proptech market is tapping into the tech-savvy population, especially residents in apartment buildings or those using property apps. 

This is part of the reasons for the growth of proptech during the pandemic, MacGregor told Hanoitimes.

Matthew Powell, Director of Savills Hanoi, said that an amount of real estate information is not public, and there has not been a clear and agreed way of regulating, storing and transmitting the information. The barrier is mainly where the information is, the accuracy of the information and the definition of the information as well.

"A lot of it comes down to the opaqueness of the real estate market and a Central Land Registry where transactions are fully recorded in a digital format," Powell added.

Without digitzing information in the property sector, the market is not transparent and the housing price is too high compared to the affordability of the people. 

MacGregor said: “Proptech is able to provide solutions to tackle these problems."

Proptech platforms can assist with liquidity and that has been taken a step further with platforms that actually enable the fractional ownership of real estate as well, opening up real estate to the mass population and allowing everybody in Vietnam to participate in real estate as an investment channel, he added.

 Source: Proptech Vietnam Network

Another reason comes from experienced founders. They are the appeal of a proptech startup, drawing the interest of angel investors and investment funds, according to Eddie Thai, General Partner of 500 Startups.

Infina’s founders are experienced entrepreneurs and investors. Its co-founder & CEO, James Vuong, whose prior company was acquired by LINE Corp while Calvin Lam, the other co-founder & CFO, has been an entrepreneur and investor in start-ups and local businesses in the US, Singapore, and Vietnam.

Homebase, providing real estate financing to buy and invest in property in Vietnam, owns a team of real estate investors, veteran computer scientists, and serial entrepreneurs hailing from institutions such as Harvard, Goldman Sachs, McKinsey, Microsoft, and Cisco.

Though proptech startups in Vietnam are still young but potential, venture investors have the interest to seize the country’s US$500-million market. The industry is estimated to have nearly 100 proptech startups, 80% of which are foreign companies or funded by foreign investors. 

According to Savills Vietnam, the real estate market will continue to grow, especially in key cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and other “resort cities”. MacGregor believed that Vietnam's proptech market has increased its market share in Southeast Asia and expected this trend to continue. 

However, the target for the development of the fledgling industry is to have sustainable and truly profitable proptech platforms.

“Many proptech startups will struggle to prove their profitability in many years, and investors will be looking for platforms that demonstrate sustainable growth and high returns, rather than burning money into rapid scaling,” noted MacGregor.