Building at VC Scale in Southeast Asia
Play • 27 min
Binh Tran, the founder of Klout and a partner at VC firm 500 Startups, looked out over time and geography and saw in Vietnam a place with a steadily growing engineering culture, and a population ready for an economic breakout. The question he needed to answer was this, did Vietnam and Southeast Asia broadly meet his criteria for investments? Could the region deliver those 100X-plus returns that keep venture capitalists in the hunt? At first glance, the answer was “no.” But then Tran saw in startups like Grab a strategy to get to VC scale, and then some.

“There is VC scale here,” Trans says from his base in Ho Chi Minh City. “But to do VC scale, you are going to have to piece together a bunch of very, very different markets. You have Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam. Those are all separate ecosystems with their own regulatory barriers, languages and cultures. So, to get to VC scale you are going to have to approach it in a very different way.”

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