With the success of VIISA’s Batch 1 and 2 teams that graduated from its 2017 Acceleration Program, VIISA continued its investment into more startup teams that were admitted into Batch 3 of its 2018 program. The Batch 3 startups are on their way to complete the program and will graduate from the Accelerator Program at VIISA's 3rd Investment Day on July 3, 2018.
"It goes without saying this is just the beginning, and we are so excited to play our role in making Vietnam an innovation hub.” - Dr. Le Hoang Anh, VIISA Chairman
WisePass was one of the 7 selected companies to join VIISA’s Acceleration Program Batch 1. WisePass is a mobile app that offers its users access to free perks everyday with its monthly subscription plan starting from US$300. Following its graduation from VIISA’s Acceleration Program, WisePass went on to raise US$400,000 in seed funding led by Expara Ventures, with VIISA as a co-investor in this round. From merely offering drinks to its subscribers when they first launched, WisePass went on to add set lunches and dinners at high-quality restaurants, VIP access to events, barbershop services, Starbucks and movie tickets at CGV theatres, to their list of services. The third and fourth quarter of 2018 will see WisePass further expanding its services to include free flight bookings and transportations for loyal members of WisePass. Having expanded to Hanoi, Bangkok and Manila already, WisePass also plans to increase its geographic scope to other cities like Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Hong Kong throughout the year, targeting one new city per quarter. According to CEO and Co-Founder Lam Tran, WisePass was designed to be global from day 1, which is one of the reasons why their market expansion is moving at such a fast pace.
In the past month, WisePass achieved yet another milestone - the launch of their ICO. WisePass decided to take the bold move of launching an ICO because firstly, they trust that it will provide massive help to them in expanding even faster across Asia Pacific and Northern America. Secondly, they believe in blockchain technology, and feel that they will be able to attach even more services with this type of technology and offer a token with real-world utility. What makes their ICO even more attractive is that people holding the WisePass token can trade them for anything their monthly subscription offers - drinks, meals, movie tickets and even more. Furthermore, with a growing revenue of 50% every quarter, WisePass definitely stands out from the crowd. WisePass has partnered with Kyber Network for their payment processing. This partnership will enable users to pay on WisePass with PASS tokens and all other ERC-20 tokens accepted by Kyber. To further promote the presence of their company, Lam Tran says that the team will attend as many events as they can, release articles on the internet and do more live-streams so that people who want to know more about them can get to do so more easily.
Along with WisePass, WeFit was also one of the teams that VIISA selected to be part of their Acceleration Program Batch 1. WeFit is a mobile service that provides its customers with access to more than 500 venues in Vietnam and over 30 types of fitness options such as gym, yoga, zumba, boxing and more. After graduating from VIISA’s Acceleration Program, WeFit raised $155,000 of seed funding in a new venture led by ESP Capital, with the participation of VIISA and other angel investors who believe in the company. From having 600 regular customers before joining VIISA’s Acceleration Program, WeFit’s customer base increased tenfold. With its speedy growth, WeFit's revenue margin reached 1600% in Q1-2018, comparing to Q1-2017.
Presently, WeFit operates with 550 partners, consisting of small to big studios across Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. In the first quarter of 2018, WeFit grew 16.34 times in terms of revenue as compared to in the same period in 2017. WeFit is also further expanding into the lifestyle industry with beauty services, offering its users more options and new experiences. This year, Founder and CEO of WeFit, Nguyen Khoi, also made it into Forbes Vietnam’s 30 Under 30 list, for his rich entrepreneurial spirit at a young age of 27. He was also nominated as one of the top 10 outstanding Vietnamese youths in 2017 to receive a certification of merit presented by the Prime Minister, HE Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
"For 2018, we are looking at even harder problems to solve, and the impactful startups that come with them." - Tran Huu Duc, VIISA CEO
In August 2017, following the success of Batch 1, VIISA launched the Acceleration Program Batch 2, which graduated in October 25th, 2017 at their second Investment Day. Among the “graduates” was CYFEER, a company that provides a solution to making the operations and management of apartments less complicated. Launched in July 2017, CyHome, a product of CYFEER, has gathered dozens of apartment buildings in Vietnam and (most recently) Cambodia to use its service, and has more than 2,000 residents using their application. CyHome is a resident-friendly building management solution streamlining all processes and communication between property managers and residents in a transparent and convenient way.
The problem that Cyfeer discovered was the increase in responsibilities following the increase in apartments in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. AirBnB, Booking.com and WeWork have completely changed the nature of using apartments; because of them, making money through renting out apartments has been brought to a whole new level. CyHome aims to empower the apartment management by allowing them to manage and operate their buildings in a simpler way through a digital solution that saves time and manpower. Through CyHome, the apartment management, service provider and residents can be connected and will benefit from their management, communication and service providing platform. With CyHome, not only will the level of productivity within the apartment management increase, service providers will also be able to reach out to a large audience of customers, and residents will be able to receive better services and experience better standards of living.
In addition to expanding its customer base in 2018, CyHome will also be collaborating with security vendors and smart houses this year, aiming to become the first condominium ecosystem in Vietnam.
In terms of publicity, CYFEER also attended the Global Startups IN-N-OUT Support Project organised by Busan Metropolitan City and B-Square Corp. CYFEER was one out of the 5 promising Vietnam teams invited to fly to Korea for this project. During this program, CYFEER will be able to enter into the Korea market, while being given opportunities to network with investors and match up with appropriate Korean teams there. The program will commence this June.
Another prestigious startup that graduated from VIISA’s Acceleration Program Batch 2 was Ella Study, one of Vietnam’s the top online educational platform, specialized in international and overseas-study issues. Ella Study focuses on solving the current pain-points of students via a marketplace-based platform that connects aspiring students directly with Insiders (Alumni) called Ella Study, as well as a student enrollment - marketing service that targets local & international institutions and academies; supporting them to scale-up recruiting students to international programs (exchange programs, studying abroad programs) named Ella Uni. This process provides both students and schools/institutions with the most helpful, objective information, as well as reduces 50% of the time & 90% of the cost in comparison with other service providers.
For Ella Uni, this year, the sales performance has significantly improved, doubling revenue-in-cash in comparison to the whole year of 2017, with nearly 30 big university partners up to date). For Ella Study, the team remains committed to the mission at hands, by reinvesting into system development, conversion into P2P matchmaking model (limiting the number of active high-profile alumni at less than 50), as well as integrating third-party services for scheduling and live conferencing.
Furthermore, Ella Study is quickly growing its partnership network, including top-tier global universities such as Uppsala University in Vietnam. They are also under trial-operation of their partnership with hocmai.vn, one of Vietnam’s top online learning platforms with over 3 million active users, in which Ella Study supports the platform users with career orientation post-high school graduation. Another activity by Ella Study that attracts a great deal of attention is the weekly online/offline events (paid live-streaming and coffee talk series), in which alumni and guests share their experiences and learnings with live audience in the cafe and via Facebook. Each event attracts 100-200 registered users on average.
After completing the development of Ella Study system (beta.ellastudy.com) and fine-tuning the flow of traffic and active users from all platforms and sources, in mid-July of 2018, Ella Study will proceed with fundraising for the next round.