ThinkZone Accelerator: Startup accelerator program with the largest domestic investment resources in Vietnam
According to TechinAsia, ThinkZone Ventures is the most active venture capital in Vietnam. It was founded by individuals with experience in business startups and numerous failures before success. Because of this, they are the best at comprehending the challenges that startup founders face and the obstacles they encounter. As a result, ThinkZone is able to gradually incubate ideas and help startups realize their full potential while walking alongside them on the sometimes rocky road to entrepreneurship. All of that knowledge and friendship helped to shape the great ThinkZone of today. DNES is delighted to tell ThinkZone's story with you in this article on the "Vietnam Startup Support Incubator" and share the lessons they acquired while putting their incubation mission into action.
I. About ThinkZone Ventures:
ThinkZone was founded in 2018 and became one of the acceleration programs in Vietnam. After three years of operationThinkZone has successfully established ThinkZone Fund II, which is governed by Vietnamese law and is entirely funded by Vietnamese corporations. Since that time, ThinkZone has formed itself as Vietnam's biggest venture capital fund. ThinkZone's current focus is on supporting and funding early-stage technology startups across a wide range of industries, including: fintech, edtech, logistics, transportation,… By doing this, ThinkZone empowers the startups in generating a variety of different values and making a positive impact on the community.
Over its years of operation, ThinkZone has consistently consolidated its position in the startup ecosystem by providing remarkable start-up assistance initiatives and events. Among them are the following:
November, 2018: Startup Funding Camp with more than 100 registered startups and more than $1 million in investment commitments.
April, 2019: ThinkZone Accelerator Batch 01 was launched, featuring 3 funded startups and 3 support packages from partners (scale of $15,000).
January, 2020: ThinkZone Accelerator Batch 02 launched with 2 funded startups and 13 support packages from partners (scale $50,000).
May, 2020: ThinkZone accompanied Startup Viet 2020, featuring more than 300 registered startups.
August, 2020: ThinkZone Accelerator Batch 03 launched with 3 funded startups and 18 support packages from partners (scale of $100,000)
November, 2020: ThinkZone accompanied Techfest 2020, welcoming 7000 participants and more than 150 startups, universities, and startup support organizations.
November, 2020: Vietnam Venture Capital Alliance established with 21 members including investment funds, law firms and government startup support program. The Alliance started out with managed assets worth more than $1 billion USD.
January, 2021: ThinkZone joined the Vietnam International Innovation Expo, along with 10,000 participants and more than 200 startups, SMEs, corporations, investment funds, and investors.
February, 2021: Established BK Fund I, jointly invested up to $1 million/startup with ThinkZone Ventures. (ThinkZone created and oversees BK Fund I).
March, 2021: ThinkZone Accelerator Batch 04 officially launched, with 3 funded startups and 24 support packages from partners (scale of $150,000)
II. Operation Model
ThinkZone is a venture capital fund that places a strong emphasis on assisting and funding technological startups in all industries, from the seed stage to Series A, with investments up to $3,000,000. Additionally, ThinkZone developed an accelerator program to help early-stage startups who just begin to introduce products to the market. Startup projects will all receive full support from ThinkZone even if they don't receive investment. Startups that are a part of the Accelerator program and receive funding will be given help in the form of both cash investments and non-cash investments. For cash investments, startup projects may receive an investment of up to $200,000. During the acceleration phase, this is one of Vietnam's greatest scale cash investments. The startup project also gained sponsorship from large companies in a variety of ways, including communication, infrastructure, offices, legal concern advice, support issues, and recruitment,… More specifically, ThinkZone for Startups provides crucial help through three-month-long 1:1 consulting and mentorship sessions. The ThinkZone network offers founders a wide selection of mentors. Mentors will take the time to assist and make up for the shortcomings of the founding team. Additionally, fundraising is one of ThinkZone's main parts of consultancy support. ThinkZone takes every effort to advise startups on fundraising tactics and documentation in order to maximize their success rate of capital raising. ThinkZone has a network reaching more than 200 investment funds, both locally and globally. That makes it considerably smoother for ThinkZone-invested startups to raise funds in later stages of development.
Afterwards, ThinkZone began to scale up investments in startups in the post-accelerator stage, with the formation of ThinkZone Fund II. However, ThinkZone Fund II still maintains its focus on the accelerator program while allocating resources to early-stage startups.
ThinkZone's operating structure distinguishes it from other funds. The team at ThinkZone has consistently worked to connect local resources and expand the ecosystem; as a result, it has developed into a favorable environment for startups to access into the ecosystems and resources of Vietnamese businesses. In order to provide resources for the Startups in ThinkZone's portfolio, ThinkZone is also eager to combine investments with foreign investment funds in investment deals. Additionally, the fact that ThinkZone offers a number of investment tools that are authorized both domestically and globally enables ThinkZone to be flexible in the structure of its startup investments.
III. The role of ThinkZone in the startup ecosystem:
ThinkZone's motto, "Zone for great minds," demonstrates the goal that ThinkZone have persistently been pursuing up to now. Gathering resources and support from numerous organizations that share the same objective, according to ThinkZone, is crucial to accelerating the growth of the startup ecosystem. In fact, a number of entrepreneurs have been a part of the ThinkZone ecosystem and have benefited greatly from this program.
According to Ms. Diep Bui, founder and CEO of eJOY: "Back there, ThinkZone has supported eJOY a lot right after the first conversation regardless of whether eJOY and ThinkZone had the possibility to work together or not. ThinkZone was dedicated to sharing what eJOY lacks and assisting eJOY team in fulfilling its shortcomings”. Ms. Diep Bui wrote "Value" for ThinkZone in reference to the priceless bricks that ThinkZone has brilliantly constructed at eJOY.
Not only eJOY, but GIMO, another ThinkZone-invested startup, has benefited greatly from this accelerator program. Mr. Quan Nguyen, Founder & CEO of GIMO, stated that the the whole ThinkZone team, notably the investment team, has joined and accompanied the GIMO team since the early days, assisting with ideation, building pitch decks, pitching,… and creating opportunities for GIMO to connect with investors who are ThinkZone partners. The success of GIMO's first fundraising round is a testimonial to ThinkZone's tremendous support. ThinkZone also assisted GIMO significantly in the second round of fundraising by consulting on formulas and indicators to persuade foreign investors to invest in GIMO and the Vietnamese market.
IV. Outstanding Achievements of ThinkZone:
Within just three years, ThinkZone could indeed achieve impressive results due to the interesting activities and continuous efforts of the team members. These distinctions include Top 1 Most Active VCs in Vietnam and Top 40 Most Active VCs in Southeast Asia (ranked by TechinAsia). Additionally, ThinkZone has supported 11 startups in its portfolio through its startup accelerator program, with a total valuation of 110 million USD and a total capital raised of up to 20 million USD for these startups. In addition, ThinkZone also incubates three national startup programs. Until now, ThinkZone has been constantly growing both domestic and international startup support network. ThinkZone is currently part of a global network of investment funds that includes more than 200 investment funds. ThinkZone also connects with over 100 network partners. As a result, ThinkZone successfully solicited 24 support packages for Startup totaling $150,000 from ThinkZone's partners.
V. ThinkZone's Challenges:
ThinkZone has encountered a variety of obstacles in assisting startups, which are also common challenges for incubators.
The first challenge is the capacity to connect. The majority of the startups in ThinkZone's portfolio have not yet completed the founding team; these companies lack the individuals needed to lay a solid foundation for the business. What ThinkZone must accomplish is connect startup founders with the ideal talents who are passionate about startups and have skills that the existing founding team lack.
The second challenge is identifying prospective startup projects. To counter this, ThinkZone had to conduct extensive research on how to communicate in order to maximize ThinkZone's presence in the ecosystem in the early days. As a result, new potential Startups may quickly know and approach ThinkZone, as well as have confidence when ThinkZone invests. ThinkZone expands its online visibility through blogs, website, fanpage, community group, and so on; and offline presence through being a professional partner of certain major events in Vietnam such as Techfest, Startup Viet, and so on.
ThinkZone's most difficult challenge is the risk of losing cash flow from the start. With a ThinkZone model, if there are insufficient resources to invest but must wait for profits from businesses in the ThinkZone Portfolio, the operation process will be gravely affected. Fortunately, ThinkZone still has angel investors who believe in it, so its steps are more stable than ever.
Thanks to the companionship and support of domestic and foreign corporations, ThinkZone increasingly strengthens its investment philosophy: investing is about more than just money; it's also about values that resonate with the help of ThinkZone and ThinkZone's partners.
VI. Lessons Learned from ThinkZone:
After operating for more than 3 years, the operation team attempts to draw lessons for ThinkZone and for other businesses that wish to adopt ThinkZone's model. As a result, ThinkZone and the Vietnamese startup ecosystem can continue to grow and expand in the future. The human resources team is one of the key components of a model like ThinkZone. The incubator's staff needs to have a thorough understanding of startups, particularly those in the investment sector. Additionally, incubators must select a specific direction and concentrate completely on that direction. This will help speed up the incubation organization's growth and result in impressive numbers, which will make it easier to attract numerous resources and turn big ideas into reality.
Despite being a relatively new accelerator program, ThinkZone has made some incredible progress. DNES sends readers the real story of ThinkZone in the hopes that readers will see opportunities for businesses in this startup ecosystem. This story is also representative of the startup support process of accelerator programs in Vietnam. From there, you will have more faith in the direction you are going, more courage in your business goals, and a greater ability to grow your business for a more successful Vietnamese startup ecosystem.