ESP Capital, the one-year-old homegrown venture capital firm in Vietnam, targets to increase investments in pre-seed and seed rounds to $300,000 and hopes to help build the first unicorn in the country, said the firm’s new General Partner.
Le Hoang Uyen Vy (Vy Le), who was featured in the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia in 2016, quit the CEO position at Adayroi, an e-commerce arm of real estate giant Vingroup, to head ESP Capital as General Partner earlier this month. She hopes to create more opportunities for startups in the early-stage and build the first unicorn in Vietnam.
“Vietnam has not seen a unicorn until now while Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines are spawning many new unicorns in Southeast Asia. Vietnam lacks early stage-focused venture capital funds that motivates ESP Capital to focus on this segment despite many risks,” Vy says.
ESP Capital has invested $1.4 million into total nine startups to date since the launch of its $20-million debut fund last year. She adds that the Vietnam-based VC firm will accelerate the expansion across Southeast Asia, not only Vietnam, and will be deploying capital in startups engaged in sectors such as housing, health, lifestyle and travel.
“Vietnam is listed among the top five ASEAN countries with the fastest increase in the number of middle-class consumers. Meanwhile, the number of young families is growing rapidly that will be the core focus of ESP Capital,” she said, adding that the VC firm will establish a system of portfolio which targets the needs of young families.
Most recently, ESP Capital led a $155,000 funding round in Fitness platform WeFit.vn which helps connect workout enthusiasts with fitness studios across Vietnam. WeFit is ESP’s fifth investment after Canavi, Jamja, Homedy, Luxstay and Cooky.
“Although the portfolio is very diversified, ESP Capital aims at reaching a common goal called “business convergence” in which different startups in the portfolio will create a general value for young people,” Vy says.
In addition to financial investments, ESP Capital also supports founders in strategic planning, operation, and capital mobilization for the next phase. ESP’s biggest goal is to help potential startups to become unicorns, which has a market capitalization of over $1 billion.
Vy graduated as valedictorian of the US’s Georgetown University, Business Administration Faculty. In Vietnam, before serving as CEO for Adayroi.com, she was the CEO of the snack chain Aiya and e-commerce platform specializing in fashion and beauty Chon.vn.
- By Quynh Nguyen, Deal Street Asia