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500 Startups Vietnam partners with GS Shop

Released at: 11:24, 20/12/2018

500 Startups Vietnam partners with GS Shop

500 Startups Mexico City Seed Program (Photo: 500 Startups Vietnam)

Two team up to create Saola Accelerator program, supporting the next "Asian unicorns".

by Minh Do

500 Startups Vietnam announced on December 19 that it will bring 500 Startups’ Silicon Valley accelerator curriculum to Vietnam in 2019 in partnership with South Korean multimedia retailer GS Shop.

The Saola Accelerator will be operated in partnership with GS Shop, South Korea’s foremost multimedia retailer with an internationally-active corporate venture capital team. GS Shop and 500 Startups have had a close relationship for many years, with investments and collaborations spanning from South Korea to the US and the Middle East.

GS Shop plans to match 500 Startups Vietnam’s investment in select batch companies, bringing the potential investment per company to as much as $200,000. GS Shop also plans to send two representatives to attend the program.

The Saola Accelerator, named after the rare Vietnamese deer also known as the “Asian unicorn”, aims to support three batches of Vietnam-connected startups with $100,000 in investment as well as programmatic support.

Each participating company will also receive access to more than $500,000 worth of free perks and discounts from 20 partners of 500 Startups, including Amazon Web Services, Google, and Microsoft.

500 Startups’ flagship accelerator program has been named among the Top 3 in the US by notable publications such as Forbes and Entrepreneur. It has also been running growth programs in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. The Saola Accelerator is the latest step in its mission to back talented entrepreneurs anywhere, help them build companies at scale, and develop thriving startup ecosystems around the world.

“We’ve learned a lot from working with 1,000 companies in more than 40 growth program batches around the world,” said Mr. Marvin Liao, Partner at 500 Startups and Head of its flagship accelerator program in San Francisco. “We’re excited to bring that experience to Vietnam.”

In addition to capital, the Saola Accelerator will also offer enhanced programming, including 500’s signature Growth Hell Week plus hands-on support for growth. The program will conclude with a Demo Day, where the startups explain their products and progress to an invite-only audience of regional venture investors.

“We believe Vietnam’s existing incubators and accelerators have played an important role in nurturing startups in their earliest stages,” Mr. Eddie Thai, a Lead Partner at 500 Startups Vietnam, explained. “Our program is aimed at companies ready to break out and become Asian unicorns, or saolas.”

Interested startups can apply to the program if they meet the following three criteria: are tech or tech-enabled; are Vietnam-connected (serving the Vietnam market, having a Vietnamese co-founder, and/or have a meaningful portion of the team in Vietnam); and have meaningful traction.

The Early Bird application deadline is January 2, with a regular deadline of January 20.

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