Startups need partnerships to participate in bigger ecosystems

By Dat Nguyen   November 29, 2020 | 10:04 pm PT
Startups need partnerships to participate in bigger ecosystems
A Vietnamese entrepreneur works at a coffee shop. Photo by Shutterstock/Dragon Images.
Vietnamese startups need to expand their partnership network with domestic and regional firms for functioning deeper in big firms’ ecosystems, industry insiders say.

Nguyen Anh Duc, CEO of retail chain Saigon Co.op, said among its 2,500 partners and suppliers in ASEAN, nearly 60 percent are young entrepreneurs in Vietnam who contribute about 28 percent of Saigon Co.op’s annual revenues.

However, the contribution of young entrepreneurs to the company has been falling in recent years, he said Monday at the ASEAN Young Entrepreneur Carnival held in Hanoi.

Saigon Co.op is constantly looking to improve it ecosystem and expand its market size, and for this, it needs more contributions from young entrepreneurs, Duc said.

"There are gaps in the business environment among ASEAN countries, and young entrepreneurs need to fill those," he said, adding that this process will lead to the creation of more unicorns in Vietnam and other ASEAN countries.

Other forum participants said Vietnamese startups need to implement their ideas faster in the modern market to improve their ecosystems.

Nguyen Dang Quynh Anh, chief operating officer of media giant Yeah1 Group, said a key factor in improving a company’s ecosystem is digital transformation, which requires young entrepreneurs to make quick decisions to make their services and products match the demand of modern customers.

The pandemic will create new shopping habits among consumers who now are more familiar with sitting at home and ordering products to be delivered to their doorstep, and startups need to take advantage of this new trend to expand their market, she added.

Although one of the biggest challenges startups face in expanding their network is mobilizing funds, experts say that there are many funding sources available now for young entrepreneurs with potential.

Nguyen Phi Van, chairwoman of startup support organization Vietnam Angel Network, said that a group of angel investors in ASEAN this year has established a financial company to support startups with the biggest potentials in the region. So, if a Vietnamese and a Malaysian investor decide to fund a startup, it will be able sell its products to both markets.

"Vietnam is currently one of the markets receiving great attention from investors in ASEAN thanks to its growth potential," Van said.

Investment in Vietnamese tech startups in the first six months fell 22 percent year-on-year to $222 millionfrom 40 dealsdue to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a report by Ho Chi Minh City-based venture capital firm Do Ventures.

Among six major economies in Southeast Asia, Vietnam accounted for 16 percent of the total investment, ranking third behind Singapore (37 percent) and Indonesia (30 percent), it added.

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