500 Startups Vietnam on Wednesday revealed a new accelerator program for 2019, in its latest initiative to back talented entrepreneurs in the Southeast Asian country.
The program, Saola Accelerator - named after a rare Vietnamese deer that is also known as the Asian unicorn, is intended to help Vietnamese entrepreneurs build companies at scale and develop thriving startup ecosystems around the world, 500 Startups Vietnam said in a press release.
500 Startups Vietnam, the Vietnamese affiliate of 500 Startups, a Silicon Valley startup accelerator and venture capital fund, works to back a new group of Internet-era startups with a US$10 million target.
The new accelerator program will bring 500 Startup’s Silicon Valley accelerator curriculum to Vietnam, in addition to a total investment capital of US$100,000 to support three batches of Vietnam-connected startup.
Under the program, each participating company will receive access to more than $500,000 worth of free perks and discounts from twenty 500 Startup partners including tech giants Amazon Web Services, Google, and Microsoft.
“We’ve learned a lot from working with 1,000 companies in more than 40 growth program batches around the world. We’re excited to bring that experience to Vietnam,” said Marvin Liao, the Partner at 500 Startups and head of its flagship accelerator program in San Francisco.
Capital aside, the Saola Accelerator will also offer enhanced programming including 500’s signature Growth Hell Week plus hands-on support for growth.
The program will then conclude with a Demo Day where startups will share about their products and progress to an invite-only audience of regional venture investors.
Saola Accelerator is a partnership with South Korean multimedia retailer GS Shop.
The retailer plans to match 500 Startups Vietnam’s investment in selected batch companies, bringing the potential investment per company up to $200,000.
“We believe Vietnam’s existing incubators and accelerators have played an important role in nurturing startups in their earliest stages. Our program is aimed at companies ready to break out and become Asian unicorns – saolas,” said Eddie Thai, a lead partner of 500 Startups Vietnam.
Startups interested in applying for the program need to be tech or tech-enabled, have meaningful traction, and must either have a Vietnamese co-founder, team on the ground in Vietnam, or be focused on serving the Vietnamese market.
The deadline for application is on January 20, 2019, with an early bird cutoff on January 2.
Early-bird applications will get first consideration and can access investment capital sooner.
Last month, 500 Startups Vietnam’s announced the close of its oversubscribed fund at $14 million, exceeding its initial target of $10 million.
The fund, led by Eddie Thai and Binh Tran, was launched in 2016 and has since then invested $3 million in 36 Vietnam-connected tech startups.