KASIKORN Vision (KVision) – an investment holding company under KASIKORNBANK PCL in Thailand (KBank) has joined hands with VIISA, a leading accelerator in Vietnam, and UP Co-Working Space, to hold a three-day hackathon on June 28-30, 2019.
The event targets startups with products or ideas to tackle finance and business challenges facing Vietnamese and ASEAN economies. Bringing together KBank’s expertise in regional banking, KVision’s 245 million USD of funding, VIISA’s local know-how, and innovative ideas from local startups, the aim is to drive synergy that will spur cutting-edge solutions that create value and drive growth in Vietnam and the wider region.
Chat Luangarpa, first senior vice president of Thailand’s KBank, said Vietnam has emerged as one of ASEAN's most vibrant startup markets and active venture capital markets. With a fast-growing economy, a pool of youthful tech talent, and strong government support, it has all the key ingredients for rapid innovation growth, he said.
"The country's young, change-oriented consumer market makes Vietnam a perfect place for startups to thrive."
KVision, aiming to drive innovative growth in the region, sees the potential for Vietnamese startups to not only grow in the local market but also capture opportunities across ASEAN.
Supported by KBank's presence in the region, the hackathon is aimed at equipping Vietnamese startups with the right tools to take them to the next level on the regional stage.
The program will bring seasoned mentors from the local and global startup communities, including Akamai, Sendo, and other leading accelerators, and business veterans such as UniBrands. Through a series of mentoring and sharing sessions, startups will receive real-world advice, hands-on supervision and invaluable networking to help them step up their game in all aspects.
From design thinking to pitching, the end goal is to inspire and drive startups to come up with real solutions to materialize their business, and form real connections to make their business happen. Startups with potential will have the opportunity to gain financial backing from investors in Vietnam and overseas and fast-track entry into a range of other startup programs.
At the heart of this program lies the idea of co-innovation. Duc Tran, CEO of VIISA, said the time for partnerships is now. Gone is the time when brick-and-mortar corporations and startups could simply view each other as competitors, he said. Partnerships between the two could bring a synergy and combination of various strengths to accelerate growth, allowing startups to expand at a time of increasing competition while also allowing corporations to transform in the digital age.
Luangarpa said this is now one of KBank's key strategies too. The establishment of KVision in Vietnam as well as other countries with outstanding technology sectors like China, Israel and Indonesia is to scout for innovative startups to co-launch new services in the region's underserved and quickly evolving markets.
KVision will hold the three-day "KVision x VIISA Hackathon: Building Co-Innovation" event at UP Co-Working Space, Ho Chi Minh City, from June 28 to 30. The program is open to both startups with business ideas and those with existing products. Prizes include $2,000 for the ideation track winner, $5,000 for the acceleration track winner and fast-track guarantees to various startup programs and perks from hackathon partners. Applications are open until June 15.
KVision looks to play an active role in linking startup ecosystems in ASEAN. Earlier this month the Thai company signed an agreement with the Vietnamese government's Business Startup Support Centre to support Thai startups' entry into the Vietnamese market.
KBank first entered Vietnam in 2015 with representative offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. To continue its focus on Vietnam, KBank plans to upgrade its Ho Chi Minh City representative office to its first branch in Vietnam once the license is granted.
Alongside setting up branches, KBank also looks to bring in digital solutions, including partnerships with startups to address financial service gaps and drive disruption in the region.