On 2 July 2020, at The MOONLAB Co-working space, the four-month journey of the VIISA Acceleration Program Batch 7 reached the signature “Investment Day” milestone. With the aim of showcasing graduating startups to investors all over the world despite the COVID-19 situation, for the first time, VIISA organized the Investment Day in a hybrid manner. The Investment Day welcomed more than 100 active investors, corporations, and startup community builders to both the on-site location, as well as to an exclusive virtual event via a conference call.
Mr. Hieu Vo, Board Member and Program Director at VIISA, said:
“This is quite a special time for everyone. The coronavirus pandemic has turned the entire world upside down in just a couple of months. Lots of business giants failed, among them airlines, tourism companies, retailers, etc. We started Batch 7 in the early days of March, and one week later Vietnam declared national social distancing. Thus, we decided to shift the entire program online. Surprisingly, the challenge was not so much trying to survive and avoiding getting infected by the virus. Instead, it was about how to adapt, continue the business, and even in some cases – how to grow – despite the virus. We believe technology is only one part of the solution. In the VIISA acceleration program, we work with the people who are striving to become the other part of the solution. In this global pandemic, I think the situation re-emphasized a rare quality of company founders: They are really resilient, and they strive every day to be a better version of themselves. My personal belief is that in combination with the technology element, these people are about to give us an answer and solution to this situation.”
Mr. Hieu Vo – CFO of VIISA
In the first part of the Investment Day, VIISA presented three fund-raising pitches from its alumni startups and a portfolio investee. Mr. Hieu Nguyen, founder of iSpeaking, an EdTech startup in the VIISA portfolio, started the pitching session to fund-raise its series-A round and showcase how it attempted to react to the new environment in just weeks during this uncertain time. Launching its online English platform in late February, iSpeaking ensured that its platform delivered the best learning outcomes with the highest interaction level between teachers and pupils.
Hieu was followed by Ann Nguyen, founder of VDES – a pioneer event marketplace and technology solution provider, who shared with VIISA’s guests their impressive traction even during the pandemic. This Batch 5 alumnus claimed to be able to combine big-data and personalized references at scale bringing a whole new experience to their end-users.
Lastly, Hang Ly, co-founder of TripHunter, a VIISA Batch 6 alumnus, came on stage to share how this TravelTech startup has been doing while the whole travel and tourism industry is struggling. Facing survival challenges, TripHunter showed their persistence with a new business model that pivoted from B2C to B2B. The startup managed to onboard their very first customers and the new SaaS model is believed to equip travel companies with the technology to prepare for the rebound of the tourism industry.
VIISA portfolio and alumni startups
For the main part of the event, the three startups from the VIISA Acceleration Program Batch 7 took the stage. Despite the circumstances created by Covid-19, VIISA and the founders still managed to follow the agenda set out at the beginning of the batch. Batch 7 startups have gone through seven intensive online business management training sessions, 80 hours working with the mentors, entrepreneurs-in-residence and VIISA’s executive team. Prior to the Investment Day, the companies were also given the chance to trial pitch their business to reputable investors to gain valuable feedback from 11 investors in 1-on-1 sessions. Finally, as always, they enjoyed VIISA partners’ world-class services such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Payoo, MOONLAB Co-working space, etc. The promising startups will have a chance to get follow-on funding of up to $200,000 from the VIISA Investment Track if they manage to secure a new round of funding from other investors.
Ask Locals: Ask Locals is a travel tech startup which focuses on tourism mapping services. Its mapping platform integrates the beauty of traditional paper maps with the technology of online map infrastructure to provide authentic experiences for independent travelers. Whether in print or online, the expressive Ask Locals maps help tourists navigate around their desired destination by promoting local culture, traditional delicacies, and unique experiences.
Medigo: Medigo is a med-tech startup driven by the mission to provide remote healthcare 24/7 with top-notch quality for everyone. The team started with a mobile application where users can upload doctors’ prescriptions, search for pharmacies, be advised by pharmacists and have medicine quickly delivered to their doorstep. Since launching in September 2019, Medigo has been serving customers in most areas of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi 24 hours a day. The team is working on expanding to major cities throughout Vietnam and providing online consultation with doctors via the same mobile app.
Gring: Gring is an employee training platform for corporates that can fit any size and type of company, anywhere. This B2B subscription model has five key components, including a mobile app, a content recreation mechanism to digitize content from words to video, audio and infographics, an interactive internal community, a management system with automated testing and reporting, and an external resources library distributed by third parties. Together, all components enable Gring to solve and to serve complex corporate training needs.
VIISA Acceleration Program Batch 7 startups
VIISA is looking to launch Batch 8 of its Acceleration Program in August 2020.
Established in January 2017 by FPT Ventures and Dragon Capital, VIISA is an acceleration program and seed-stage fund that invests to build global-ready startups from Vietnam. After six batches, there have been 32 graduates, with some highlighted names such as UrBox, WisePass, VDes, BoxShop, EcomEasy, and TripHunter, which have created more than 400 jobs and raised a total committed $5 million from other investors.