Interested in Vietnam’s startup scene? These are the events to keep an eye on
(Even if you can’t make it to Vietnam.)
Events are a great way to bring a community together. Sometimes, they can even bring different communities together for a day or two in the case of SLUSH, Web Summit, Disrupt, and other global startup movements. In Vietnam, local event organizers have been busy this year with an assortment of new formats and recurring themes. Most of these events are an easy “one-stop shop” for newcomers to meet people and companies operating in Vietnam (and they are usually held in English).
However, these aren’t the only events in Vietnam — there are a variety of Demo Days and other pitch events which occur on a monthly basis in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Danang. Yet, the following events are the most impactful in terms of regional and international interest — as well as showcasing some of the most promising startups that operate in Vietnam.
The events are listed in chronological order and event names are hyper-linked for additional information.
Back in March the first Saigon Tech Startup Fest was held at Independence Palace in Ho Chi Minh City with a theme of “Bringing Silicon Valley to Saigon” for the day-long event. Among the organizers were Startup.vn, Viet Youth Entrepreneurs (VYE), S.H.I.E.L.D., the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and the Asian Development Bank’s Mekong Business Initiative (MBI), supported by the Government of Australia.
According to Linh Hoang, Vice President of External Relations and Operations of VYE:
“Saigon Tech Startup Fest 2016 is [one of the] biggest startup festival[s] in Vietnam, gathering 5,000 participants from diverse background and 60 companies (both startups and innovative corporations). The goal of the event is to foster entrepreneurship and innovation in the city. This event was also supported by Department of Science and Technology, as a leading government agency which cares about developing Ho Chi Minh City into a startup and innovation city of Vietnam and South East Asia.”
Held in June, the SoGal Summit Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City focused on four pillars: inspire, empower, network, and educate in order to embrace and promote gender diversity in entrepreneurship in Vietnam. Co-organized by SoGal, S.H.I.E.L.D., Lotus Fund, and TIGERS@Mekong, part of the Lower Mekong Initiative, the gathering of female influencers and entrepreneurs celebrated and empowered female entrepreneurship. The event was promoted as:
“…a full-day event featuring panel discussions with prominent women entrepreneurs and investors on the theme of empowering female entrepreneurship, as well as Her Startup VN CrowdPitch Competition.”
BlockFin Asia 2016 was another first-time event held in June. However, this event focused exclusively on Fintech and Blockchain technologies. Organized by the Vietnam Fintech Club, which is sponsored by Dragon Capital and Standard Chartered Bank Vietnam, the conference (also co-organized by VYE) brought together public and private sector leaders to discuss the regulatory, adoption, and payments challenges ahead.
The city of Danang hosted Startup Fair Danang this past June, which featured roundtable and panel discussions organized by the Danang City Startup Network Coordinating Council and the Danang Business Incubator along with their local and foreign supporters. The event was promoted as “an opportunity to discuss entrepreneurship support policies and programs as well as to explore investment potentials in Da Nang.”
Vietnam Mobile Day was actually three events across Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Danang. This series of events was supported by Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade and began this year on June 18 in Ho Chi Minh City, before continuing onto Hanoi a week later and eventually ending in Danang in July. The Mobile Days focused on anything and everything related to mobile, including marketing, games, trends, technologies, and e-commerce.
The fourth annual HATCH! Fair returns with a theme of “Invisible Technology” this October 7–8 in Ho Chi Minh City. This event even has its own app for getting the most out of your conference experience — a feature that sets it apart from other events. A competition via a partnership with the University of Dayton is a new addition this year, which will allow for a “US $5,000 cash prize to the winning teams, as well as a trip for second pitching round in Suzhou, Shanghai for 2 members.” Co-organizers include Viet Youth Entrepreneurs, Vietnam Creative Entrepreneurs Network, and the Energy Conservation Center of Ho Chi Minh City.
Spearheaded last year for the first time by the National Agency Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Development (NATEC), a body within Vietnam’s Ministry of Science and Technology, Techfest is back this year on November 12–13. The event was described last year as:
“The national festival for innovators, entrepreneurs, angel and institutional investors, supporting agencies and communities, technology experts, consumers and the tech media.”
Last year, the event spanned three days at Vietnam National University in Hanoi, however, this year the event will be held over two days at the National Convention Center. As a result of matchmaking and other introductions at Techfest Vietnam 2015, over $1 million in investment transaction between startups and investors took place, according to NATEC. Furthermore, some investors, like Expara Ventures, became so interested in the Vietnamese market (after the event) that they decided to launch a local accelerator.
As for what’s to be expected for this year’s Techfest Vietnam, according to Lan Phan, who is on the Techfest organizing committee:
“This year [was] announced by Vietnamese leaders as the year of entrepreneurship and Techfest Vietnam 2016 is officially recognized as the national startup ecosystem event. So it will [be] bigger, more fun and aim to bring over more startups, investors and ecosystem builders from all over the world so we can really share experience and explore great collaboration opportunities. So far we have seen registration from the US, Finland, Israel, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia and really look forward to seeing many more to come.”
“…a two-day tech and business conference that attracts top-tier digital professionals and entrepreneurs set to create and amplify opportunities in the fields of technology, business and investments across Vietnam and Asia.”
Viet Tech Conference
If Vietnam is too far for you to visit, but you are still interested in startups, innovation, and entrpreneurship in this Southeast Asian country of 90+ million, then you have the option of heading to Silicon Valley to learn about Vietnam’s developing enterprise ecosystem. Scheduled to be held in 2017, the first Viet Tech Conference will be a bridge between Vietnam and Silicon Valley, where there exists a large community of Vietnamese-Americans. (There are over 100,000 Vietnamese-Americans living in San Jose, California.)
According to organizer Lucy Keoni, cofounder of StartUpRising:
“Never has there been a better time to bring together the Vietnamese community within the tech ecosystem, both in the US and abroad. Our goal is to capture a large breadth of the community spanning from young Vietnamese that want to make it in the USA to older Viet-Kieu generation that has already ‘made it.’ We will feature seasoned entrepreneurs and investors as well as industry experts. The summit is open to people interested in the tech business and potentially people with an interest in Vietnam.”
So there you have it: a brief wrap up of this year’s events thus far — as well as a preview of what is to come for the rest of the year and beyond. These are exciting times for Vietnam’s enterprise ecosystem as it welcomes new and additional interest from Southeast Asia and around the world. As the enterprise ecosystem in Vietnam develops, event organizers will continue to offer platforms for the best teams to showcase their talent and products to investors, media, and/or corporate partners.
Hope to see you at one of these events in the future! In the meantime, feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com or follow me on Twitter for more updates: https://twitter.com/MrRowan