Ho Chi Minh City, promised land of startup "unicorns"

Following the footsteps of ancestors, the Southern region has proven to be a sacred land with extraordinary people for many generations.

Determination, engagement, recklessness and enterprising are the essence of people in the Southern region where innovations and great things have emerged.

The country is progressing strongly with technology start-up trends and three-fourth of startup unicorns valued at over US$1 billion have been grown from the Southern region.

Ho Chi Minh City is home to over US$1 billion startup companies like VNG, formerly VinaGame, which is considered as the “giant brother” of the startup community. VNG's assets and stature are now an aspiration and an overwhelming ideal model for other startups.

The owner of the tech company chose Ho Chi Minh City to start its business because of the city’s generosity, dynamism and adaptability. In 2014, the World Startup Report valued VNG Corporation at US$1 billion, making it the first-ever technology unicorn in Vietnam. Five years later, Temasek Holdings of Singapore valued VNG Corporation at US$2.2 billion to continue to hold Vietnam's first technology "unicorn".

CEO of VNG Corporation, Le Hong Minh who regularly delivers speeches at large-scale startup forums is proof for the success of a "unicorn."

The influence of VNG

The impact of VNG Campus is expected to turn Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone into a technology zone with greater values to change the image and characteristics of the current export processing zone.

VNG Campus is located at the Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone, District 7, Ho Chi Minh City.

Similarly, Sky Mavis, founded and developed in Ho Chi Minh City by Nguyen Thanh Trung, has been valued at US$3 billion, officially becoming Vietnam's most valuable unicorn after over three years of operation. Despite operating discreetly, the unicorn became one of the most renowned startups in the blockchain gaming world at the beginning of 2021.

Notably, the Axie Infinity game had more than 2.6 million players and a total monthly transaction value in the game of nearly US$1 million. In October 2021, Sky Mavis successfully raised US$152 million in a series B funding round, valuing the company at US$3 billion.The two unicorns have strongly taken off from the game sector but they are developing in different ways.

VNG and Sky Mavis are both considered as enterprises for developing, trading and distributing online games. However, VNG is mostly trading in the traditional game while Sky Mavis is dominating the market share of developing NFT games on blockchain technology which is the new trend in the world and has potential to develop more and more in the future.

A very familiar name to Vietnamese customers is MoMo. Almost a decade ago during a press conference announcing a new project, General Director of MoMo at that time Pham Thanh Duc confidently stressed building an ecosystem covering 63 provinces and cities nationwide and received many concerns about its feasibility.

A modern working space of MoMo.

For many years, the announcement has become true and MoMo has been developing more than expected. MoMo has now built an ecosystem covering the country with more than 50,000 partners, 140,000 payment acceptance points and direct cooperation with more than 70 partners.

This digital platform can meet the basic shopping and payment needs of Vietnamese people. MoMo has now become a technology "unicorn". The vision of MoMo leaders and employees is that its products and services must target young people and especially always pioneer the implementation of the Government's cashless policy.

Co-founder of MoMo Nguyen Ba Diep shared that MoMo’s mission was to make digital finance familiar to customers, notably Gen Z and Gen C.

As a pioneering financial platform, MoMo, together with Vietnamese people, are fostering an intelligent lifestyle.

According to the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM) under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, in order to reach the set target of ten unicorns by 2030, the Government needs to take measures to open up stronger investment capital flows from the public and private sectors into startups.

It is essential to study policies for building a separate capital mobilization form for technology startups, create the ability to mobilize capital for startups and create liquidity for venture investors at the end of deals.

Besides, it is important to encourage the development of innovative start-up investment forms through tax incentives and policies to attract talented individuals.

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