VinaCapital Ventures backs two startups, appoints advisory board chairman

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VinaCapital Ventures, the $100-million venture capital arm of asset management firm VinaCapital, has added two more Vietnamese startups to its portfolio. The companies are Urbox, a digital gifting platform, and Wee Digital, a fintech startup that uses biometrics and AI to authenticate customers and enhance security. Financial terms were not disclosed. “These investments are part of our continued effort to nurture Vietnamese tech startups that are tackling some of the biggest inefficiencies in doing business and giving consumers access to advanced products and services at reasonable costs,” said VinaCapital Ventures partner Khanh Tran.

UrBox, which received pre-seed funding from Vietnam-focused accelerator and seed fund VIISA, has tied up with more than 3,000 retail outlets across Vietnam ranging from food, beverage and entertainment establishments to e-commerce sites such as Shopee, Tiki, Adayroi and Grab, and convenience stores. Its client base includes financial institutions such as VPBank, SeaBank, Timo Digital Banking, telcos such as Viettel, and regional unicorns such as Grab, VinaCapital Ventures said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Wee Digital, founded by serial entrepreneur Christian Nguyen, is the first mover in applying financial biometrics. VinaCapital Ventures’ investment is the first VC funding secured by the startup. VinaCapital Ventures has also appointed Philipp Rösler, former German Vice Chancellor, as chairman of its advisory board, who will provide counsel to both VinaCapital Ventures and its portfolio companies. He has previously served as an advisor to US-based Founder’s Fund. “Philipp’s experience and perspective are extraordinarily unique. He has served in both the public and private sectors, as a physician and a legislator, with large established companies and small startups. In Europe, he was a bridge between German startups and Silicon Valley, and now he will play this and other roles for startups in Vietnam,” said VinaCapital founder Don Lam.

The Ho Chi Minh City-headquartered $1.8-billion asset management firm launched VinaCapital Ventures in late 2018 with a $100-million kitty to invest in both Vietnamese and Southeast Asian startups. Prior to UrBox and Wee, it has backed homegrown ride-hailing app FastGo and logistics startup Logivan.

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