Millennial Entrepreneurs Are Fueling Vietnam’s Tech Boom
Millennial entrepreneurs, take note. With a population nearing 100 million and a median age of just 30, the Vietnam that was once primarily known for its agriculture and textile industries is shaping up to be the next Silicon Valley, or as Vietnamese-American entrepreneur Nguyen Minh Hieu would describe it, as Saigon Silicon City. This small Southeast Asian country has become home to tech giants like Samsung and Intel, and continues to attract investors from around the globe.
Vietnam had hardly any IT companies 15 years ago, but now there are close to 14,000 IT businesses spanning hardware, software, and digital content. The Vietnamese government sees the tech sector as the driving force behind the country’s economic growth, and heavily invests in infrastructure and economic policies that encourage both domestic and international entrepreneurs to start businesses.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development ranks Vietnamese 15-year-olds above peers in the U.S., Australia and Britain in science and math, and it’s these young coders, engineers, and other millennial entrepreneurs that are driving economic growth and technological innovation. Many students are recruited straight out of university by companies like Cisco, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, LG, Sony, and Toshiba, while the rest are taking a more entrepreneurial approach and seeking out venture capital (VC) funding to launch their own start-ups.
Vietnam’s Tech Boom Shows No Signs of Slowing Down
After visiting Vietnam last year, Google chief executive Sundar Pichai announced that the search engine giant would help train about 1,400 local IT engineers. Even the US Embassy sees the value in investing in Vietnam’s workforce, recently announcing the Ambassador’s Entrepreneurship Challenge, which will allow regional winners the opportunity to attend the Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) Startup Camps in Vietnam. Three winners of the challenge will receive seed money to help them bring their ideas to market.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade bloc and free trade deals with the European Union, along with a cheaper workforce than competitor China, make Vietnam especially attractive to venture capitalists, leading Silicon Valley-based venture capitalist 500 Startups to announce a $10 million Vietnam-focused fund.
Not only is Silicon Valley money coming to Vietnam, but the infrastructure to support the IT community is expected with the development of Saigon Silicon City, a $40 million high-tech park designed to attract domestic and international investment and slated for completion in 2020.
Silicon Valley may have its own HBO show, but Vietnam’s tech market is one that shouldn’t be underestimated, and is already standing out among millennial entrepreneurs in search of the next big boom. With venture capital money betting on its potential, a physical infrastructure in development and a highly skilled workforce ready to go, Vietnam may just be the next “IT” place.