VIETNAM'S FAST-GROWING CONSUMER BUSINESSES
The foundation of our partnership
Our partnership with any investee company starts with that investee company creating a bold, breakthrough vision for the future. That vision will be our shared commitment and the foundation for our partnership. Everything else we do as an investor will be from our commitment to the fulfillment of our shared vision for that company’s future.
Two Belgian entrepreneurs, Gaëtan Crielaard and Alexandre de Caters, began their adventure in 2013 after realizing the huge potential of insect protein for animal nutrition during their business school years. They quickly identified Vietnam would be one of the key markets to set up this kind of business. In early 2019, Entobel constructed one of the largest insect production sites in the world in Dong Nai province with an annual capacity of 1,000 tons of insect meal. Looking forward, Entobel’s next plant will be operational by 2023 and will respond to rising global demand while supporting the reduction of our global food chain’s environmental footprint.
10 years of researching Cancer Biology and Genetics in the U.S was eye-opening for Dr. Nguyen Hoai Nghia when he discovered the benefits and applications of genetic testing. With the intention to make genetic testing affordable and accessible to millions of Vietnamese, thus transforming their health, he returned to Vietnam to start his entrepreneurial journey. In 2017, Dr. Nghia together with Dr. Nguyen Huu Nguyen and Dr. Giang who also had background and solid experience in genetics, cancer biology, clinical medicine, and biotechnology co-founded Gene Solutions.
Ten years climbing the ladder from a fresh graduate to the senior executive at VNG – Vietnam’s first-ever unicorn start-up, Phan Le Manh saw himself as a mountaineer ready for the next climb. An opportunity came when he experienced the fragmented real estate market and noticed the rising needs of homeownership from the tech-savvy population. In 2016, Manh and his senior colleague at VNG, Vo Thang Loi, with two other friends founded Rever as one of the pioneering proptech companies in Vietnam with a mission to transform the brokerage market, enabling more people to access their dreams of homeownership easier.
After 15 years of studying and working in molecular biology in Japan, Dr. Nguyen Hoa Anh came back to Vietnam to pursue his mission: An antibiotic-free future for the Vietnamese. But at that time, probiotics products available in the market weren’t efficient after entering the intestines. In 2010, Dr. Anh and his friends, Mr. Duong Song Ha and Mr. Dang Quoc Hung co-founded the precursor company of LiveSpo to embark on the excursion called ‘spore probiotics’. It took them 3 years to successfully launch the first commercial spore-based probiotics in water form, which had much greater efficacy than the traditional probiotics in the market.
Back in the 2000s, on her trip to visit Korea, Mrs. Le Thi Bich Phuong, who was always excited about beauty for women, was dazzled by Korean skincare and cosmetics market and was inspired to bring the opportunity to Vietnam. Thus, in 2004, Phuong and Mr. Nguyen Quoc Binh co-founded HSV Group as the exclusive distributor of The Face Shop and then expanded the portfolio with Reebok and Adidas. In 2018, reflecting on her journey, Phuong realized that her commitment was beyond having more international brands, so she decided to open Beauty Box to provide Vietnamese women with an engaging shopping experience for all their health and beauty needs. Now HSV Group is the largest cosmetics retailer in Vietnam with 106 stores nationwide (as of 30 Sep) 2021.
Mutosi was established in 2018 by Mr. Tran Trung Dung and 3 co-founders with extensive operating experience in the water purifier industry. From the start, Mr. Dung was highly passionate about introducing safe, convenient, and efficient appliances for Vietnamese homes. Therefore, while the Home Appliance sector already has some strong players, Mr. Dung chose to set up Mutosi to offer more affordable high-quality household products in the water, air, and kitchen categories. After three years, Mutosi has grown from 300 points of sales in mid-2019 to more than 3,000 points of sale nationwide as of 30 Sep 2021.
Marou Chocolate was founded in 2011 by two Frenchmen, Sammuel Maruta and Vincent Marou, who came across Vietnamese fine flavored cacao, which somehow remained hidden for over a century. When they found it, they quickly understood that they could make great chocolate. On the ferry back to Ho Chi Minh City, decided to try their hands at chocolate making. Since then, Marou has achieved several accolades, including the Gold International Chocolate Awards, putting Vietnam on the world chocolate map. Henceforth, Marou Chocolate has stayed true to its origin of making dark chocolate entirely from Vietnam’s finest ingredients.
After his best friend unexpectedly committed suicide, Yosuke Masuko, underwent emotional battering and heartache and wanted to discover how to have lasting peace and happiness. Coincidently, through the journey of building a pizza oven in his backyard and hosting pizza parties, Masuko was fascinated by this simple yet flexible dish that seemed to hold the power to bring friends together for happy moments. He then left his job as a Country Director of a Venture Capital Fund and together with his wife, Sane Masuko, they set up Pizza 4P’s from scratch. Ten years later, Pizza 4P’s has grown to operate a chain of 23 full-service restaurants, 2 food trucks, and 2 franchised Ippudo ramen restaurants. The company stays committed to bringing happiness to its customers through its creative use of local ingredients, high-quality standards, and excellent customer experience.
Transforming from his high-school days as a famous computer hacker, Mr. Phung Anh Tuan began his entrepreneurship as the founder of a Cybersecurity company. The company then experienced financial hardship and Tuan had to pawn his things to pay his employees. This challenge led Tuan to co-found F88 with his entrepreneurial co-founders. After 8 years, given the founders’ strong commitment to leadership transformation and the company’s vision, F88 emerged to be the leading financial services group for Vietnam’s non-banked population with more than 400 branches nationwide.
In 2011, Chris Blank had been working at Ho Chi Minh Securities Corporation (HSC) and he together with two colleagues from HSC saw the opportunity of adopting the modern commerce model to bring a good and reliable supply of pharmaceuticals for Vietnamese. So they decided to build Pharmacity as the first cutting-edge retail pharmacy chain in Vietnam. As the pioneer in an exotic landscape dominated by traditional and informal shops, the founders faced numerous challenges both in finance and in operations. However, with an unmovable stand for the vision, the founders relentlessly reinvented themselves concurrent with the company’s growth. As a result, Pharmacity is now the biggest state-of-the-art pharmacy chain operating 1,000 stores nationwide (as of 31 Mar 2022).
Vua Nem was founded by two friends, Mr. Hoang Tuan Anh and Mr. Nguyen Vu Nghia, after Tuan Anh’s startup group won a start-up award for an e-commerce business plan. At that time, they also realized that, traditionally, mattresses were stacked on top of one another at shops, making it almost impossible to try. Therefore, Tuan Anh and Nghia were determined to found Vua Nem to offer a modern shopping experience with a wide range of mattress types and mattresses brands. Over 14 years, regardless of many hardships, the founders relentlessly discovered new ways to transform themselves and their teams, enabling Vua Nem to become the largest and most trusted retailer of mattresses and bedding accessories in Vietnam with more than 100 stores.
In the 2000s, Ngo Thuy Ngoc Tu and Pham Anh Khoa were co-founders of an online forum that helped students win scholarships to universities in the States called VietAbroader. They then received scholarships for themselves and departed to the US for their separate degrees. In 2009, after returning to Vietnam, the pair chose to continue their mission to help Vietnamese students access the life-changing experience of studying abroad. Together with two US alumni, they co-founded YOLA as a digital learning company that connected Vietnamese students with American tutors. 12 years later, YOLA continues its transformation to maximize and unlock students’ full potential through inspiring education provided by dedicated and experienced teaching professionals across its 12 centers nationwide.