Vietnam is a very important place to me. I lived in Vietnam for 2 years. I met my wife in Vietnam which means I have family in Vietnam & a vested interest in its success.
I went to Vietnam after a brief study abroad trip opened my eyes to the energy that is Vietnam from the busy streets full of motorbikes to the people building new things hungry to connect & learn new things.
I spent my first few months connecting with many people building startups in Vietnam, locals & expats. I made friendships that I hope last a lifetime. There was certainly no shortage of events to meet new people & check out what people were building. I actually fell back into creating myself because another expat asked me to show him how to code mobile applications. In Vietnam, I grew the most I have ever grown in my life to this point because I allowed myself the time & space to create and stumble. I made close friends who became my mentors professionally & personally.
I could bore you with stats you can read every other week in news articles about how good the Vietnamese economy has performed & it's growth prospects because of their successful handling of the Covid outbreak, but it probably won't inspire you until you go see for yourself when it's safe to do so.
In addition to growing FDI (foreign direct investment) in traditional industries, the country is heavily pushing digital transformation which provides tech entrepreneurs tons of opportunity to solve new problems.
Why Tech.Viet & Process
I wanted to map out a new version of the Vietnamese ecosystem so I researched & built Tech.Viet, an open-source view into tech companies in Vietnam.
I started with the one Google Sheet document mapping out the Vietnam Startup Ecosystem. The problem with this open Google Sheet was it opened the door to years of bad data.
I combed over the 1800+ companies in that document writing simple Google Apps scripts to check links for valid websites & social profiles. A lot of data was out of order because of people copying & pasting into the document over the years. I found a hack to check valid Facebook company pages using an open Facebook API endpoint that would only return a certain code when a page username existed & an error if it was not a valid username. I got a Twitter API key to do the same but quickly realized that Twitter is nearly useless for Vietnamese companies & very very few had recent tweets.
I focused on Facebook & LinkedIn as the 2 primary social media sources for companies. I believe a lot more Vietnamese companies should be improving their social presence on LinkedIn especially if they are selling B2B solutions. A strong presence on LinkedIn will also make it easier for outside investors to learn more about the company.
Vietnam is leapfrogging other countries when it comes to mobile so I wanted to provide links to mobile applications for companies that have them.
Since Vietnamese is a huge tech outsourcing hub, most of the companies on the original Google Sheet list were agencies building products for clients & not their own products. I made the decision not to include agencies for now. I wanted there to be a database of Vietnamese tech companies started in Vietnam or initially building for the Vietnam market as their primary market. To further shrink the list, I tried to only list parent companies that make several products. It gives a clearer view to who owns & operates what in Vietnam.
The whole project was created with React+Next.js & is open-sourced on GitHub. The project is fully contained within GitHub as well, using JSON files in GitHub + Google Forms as a CMS system & also using GitHub Pages to host the static website after GitHub Actions creates a new build. My friend Franck helped automate the addition of companies via Google Form with his project gform-to-github. If you submit a company via Google Form, a commit gets added to the "gform" branch in the project. He literally wrote it for this project in a couple hours while sitting next to me. This is the magic of Vietnam, I got to meet & work with amazing people like Franck who I never would have met otherwise.
Anyone can help improve this list with updates & new Vietnamese Tech companies using GitHub or the project Google Form. There are some limitations with special characters when using JSON files so I'm keeping my eye on that & may implement something different in the future to make sure if Vietnamese characters are used they actually show up properly.
I hope the project can help some Vietnamese companies be found & seen by more people outside Vietnam and in turn they find more success globally. I hope aspiring entrepreneurs in Vietnam also see this list & get ideas where they can focus their efforts to solve problems for businesses and consumers.
I am also considering adding new parts to the site - ie list of accelerators, incubators, and investors in Vietnam tech. Let me know what you think.
Connect with me on LinkedIn.
Thanks for reading!