Over 200 regional investors, entrepreneurs, corporate leaders, and startup ecosystem supporters and stakeholders converged on the “500 Startups Demo Day” in Ho Chi Minh City on September 6.

500 Startups, one of the world’s most active venture capital investors, in partnership with AmCham Vietnam, hosted an action-packed evening of discussions and presentations to spotlight the dynamic technology landscape in Vietnam and broader Southeast Asia.

The evening’s highlight was presentations by eleven “rising star” startups in Southeast Asia. Six were graduates of the first batch of the “Silicon Valley-inspired, Saigon-based” Saola Accelerator, organized by 500 Startups in partnership with leading South Korean retailer GS SHOP and venue sponsor Kafnu Ho Chi Minh City.

“The Saola Accelerator is one of the best programs out there in Southeast Asia and even in the world,” said Mr. Herve Vu Roussel, Co-founder of Quod AI.

Five startups joined from beyond the accelerator, including investments by 500 Startups Vietnam’s sister funds, 500 TukTuks - focused on Thailand - and 500 Durians - focused on Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.

The presenting startups are pioneers in logistics, e-commerce, fintech, blockchain, agri-tech, and other fields. Collectively they are doing business in more than 15 markets across Asia-Pacific, North America, and Europe, and have raised more than $30 million in venture financing.

“These startups show that innovation from Vietnam and broader Southeast Asia can transform lives not only in the region but potentially around the world,” said Mr. Eddie Thai, a General Partner at 500 Startups Vietnam.

A panel of experienced venture capitalists provided real perspectives on Vietnam’s tech scene. Panelists included Ms. Linh Thai, a Shark Tank Vietnam “shark” and CEO of VinGroup Ventures, Mr. Yinglan Tan, Managing Partner at the Singapore-based Insignia Ventures Partners, Ms. Shuyin Tang, a Partner at impact investor Patamar Capital, and Mr. Thai as moderator. All agreed that this is an exciting time for Vietnam overall and provided more context on trends, opportunities, and challenges.

Mr. Nguyen Nguyen, Founder and CEO of fast-growing fintech startup Trusting Social, shared his mission, his biggest challenge, and some wisdom for other entrepreneurs. After several years in the US earning his Ph.D. and working in finance, he returned to Vietnam to found what has become the fastest-growing credit scoring platform in Southeast Asia, now scoring nearly a half a billion people. It was one of 500 Startups Vietnam’s earliest investments, and eventually became Sequoia Capital’s first investment in Vietnam.

AmCham Vietnam, meanwhile, announced the launch of an Entrepreneurship and Innovation Committee at the event. Ms. Mary Tarnowka, recently appointed as AmCham’s Executive Director after completing a decade-long career in the US Foreign Service, culminating with her term as US Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City, said the committee will focus on sharing and supporting emerging technologies, disruptive business models, and approaches to innovation. Mr. Thai will serve as its inaugural chair.

Mr. Binh Tran, a serial entrepreneur turned General Partner of 500 Startups Vietnam, reiterated the points made by many of the guest speakers. “There’s more hype about Vietnam’s tech scene now than ever before,” he said. “To maintain the momentum, it’s important for entrepreneurs and investors alike to separate the signal from the noise, with the help of strong partners.”