This is the third post of “Now in Vietnam“, where TechNode visits Vietnam’s leading companies, to explore the next startup ecosystem to emerge among Southeast Asian countries. Vietnam GDP growth could surpass China by 2020 according to Turicum Investment Management.
Where there is a startup ecosystem, there is co-working space to house their innovation and passion. Boosted by confident views on Vietnam’s future growth, co-working spaces are sprouting up in Vietnam to home its 3,000 startups. In Vietnam’s Hanoi, most of the co-working spaces are circling around West Lake (Tay Ho) and Hoan Kiem Lake, the heart of Hanoi.
Among the dozens of co-working spaces in Hanoi, the UP Coworking Space is becoming a must destination for startups and angel investors in Vietnam and those who want to find out what Vietnam’s startup vibe is like.
The idea for UP Coworking Space was put out on the table in 2016 by Do Hoai Nam, the chairman of SeeSpace InAir, the augmented TV experience which successfully crowdfunded on Kickstarter in 2014. With other Up co-working space co-founders, Mr. Tuan Phan, Mr. Tuan Do and Mr. Hung Tran, Namster had travelled a lot of places and witnessed the significant development of many million dollar startups in Silicon Valley.
“After researching many business models and investing in startups, he found that the main reason why so many startups, especially the young startups, lose their market competitiveness and delaying their development. It was because of extremely high sunk cost,” Mai Lan Van, Head of community at UP Coworking Space space told TechNode. “In order to give support to startups in where they have invested so much of their time and effort, Nam Do created UP co-working space.”
UP Coworking Space aims to give startups better working conditions to work, learn, expand relationships, raise capital and consult with mentors with the best price. The four co-founders are angel investors in companies at UP co-working space as well.
However, it’s not only the creators of the co-working who are seeking for the fresh startups. VIC Partners is a private investment group of credited angel investors that I met at UP co-working space. As a visitor, I couldn’t miss them, because two of the investors were sitting at the entrance of the UP co-working space, with their big logo on their desktop. They were wearing T-shirts just like other founders.
“I spend time in almost every co-working space in Hanoi, but mostly at UP Coworking Space, and Toong co-working space, because they are the largest, have the most startups. You just happened to meet us at UP co-working space,” Managing director of VIC, Trinh Anh Duc told TechNode.
Trinh was previously co-founder of Curnon, a fashion watch brand and currently serves as a Managing director of VIC Partners as well as Hanoi Chapter Director at Startup Grind.
Dedicated to investing and fostering startups in Vietnam, some investors like Trinh will spend time at the co-working space talking to startups, then the group would gather up to discuss whether to invest. VIC Partners’ fund comes from angel investors who are diversified high-net-worth entrepreneurs with different business backgrounds but share the same interest in angel investing.
“We invest in consumer-driven businesses that our insights, experience, and expertise can add the most value. We aim to become the official voice of the Vietnam Angel Investor community, create awareness on angel investments to spur the growth of business angels in the country,” Trinh says.
Priced at US$ 50 a month per a seat, UP Coworking Space is full of hard working entrepreneurs even on a Friday evening.
“In UP Coworking Space, about 70% are tech startups, and about 20% are media. Most startups are early stage companies with 2 or 3 people in the team,” Hung Tran, co-founder of UP co-working space told TechNode.
Apart from their first location in the French quarter in Hanoi, they have another location in Hanoi University, which is 1.5 times bigger than the first one. They are planning to expand the business to Ho Chi Minh city.