Vietnam Market Dive, Bull (Education, FDI, Friendshoring) vs. Bear (Exit Pathing, Stock Market, Banking Liquidity), Anti-Corruption Campaign and Patient Capital - E256

· Podcast Episodes,Founder,Vietnam,Start-up

 

 

"I hope to see more talents returning to Vietnam. I’m so impressed with Vietnam’s Gen Z but now they choose to start their careers in developed countries like Singapore, the US, and Europe. I spend a lot of time giving them advice on how to best move back to Vietnam and navigate the differences here. That's why I'm passionate about building a community and giving out the best educational content. I show conviction and build up their conviction for the country so they can return home to make an impact and build up Vietnam." - Valerie Vu

 

"We get a lot of learning and inspiration from Chinese politics. China has also consolidated power and launched anti-corruption campaigns in the last eight years. Vietnam is also going through an anti-corruption campaign, but on a shorter timeline. Things might seem overwhelming for a lot of foreign investors, especially US investors who are not familiar with Asian politics. We want to attract more FDIs for the country, grow the economy, and improve Vietnamese people's lives." - Valerie Vu

 

1. Valerie and I discussed the bull case for Vietnam’s startup landscape including consistently high GDP growth (one of the fastest in the world with 8.0% in 2022), low inflation rate, rising middle class, strong education culture with an engineering focus, manufacturing “friend-shoring”, and high foreign direct investment (with USA, China and Singapore as key drivers).

2. She explains the bear factors including the lack of strong local startup exits to date, underperforming stock market, banking liquidity issues and the need for clearer regulations. She believes in the need for patient capital and long-term horizon investing. For example, local digital payments took more than 10 years to legalize through founder, VC and regulator collaborations.

Read, listen or watch the full insight including regulatory sandboxes, the current “burning furnace” anti-corruption campaign and the entrepreneurial drive of Vietnam’s Gen Z at https://www.bravesea.com/blog/vietnam-market-dive

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Jeremy Au: (01:43)

Hey, Valerie, really excited to have you on the show. We've had multiple episodes together, more on a personal side, and yet today, of course, on this wonderful Monday morning, we're discussing Vietnam, the market of Vietnam, the bull and bear case, the regional slash local view because there are so many questions about Vietnam. Vietnam is the hottest star. So, Valerie, please introduce yourself real quick.

 

Valerie Vu: (02:04)

Morning, Jeremy. So happy to be back. A quick reintroduction about myself. I think most audience of the BRAVE Southeast Asia podcast already kind of knows about me because I'm one of the earliest guests in the podcast but happy to be back. I'm Valerie, founding GP of Ansible Ventures, a pre-seed and seed fund dedicated to Vietnam headquarters in Ho Chi Minh city. I announced the first close of the fund back in December last year. So really, we are a new fund. We are proud to be one of the earliest venture capital investors in Vietnam, and a homegrown fund from Vietnam. Before founding Ansible, I worked for Venturra for the last three years. It's an Indonesian headquarters venture capital fund. During the three years at Venturra, I led and invested in 12 different companies and startups from Vietnam, mostly in the sector of ConsumerTech, FinTech, HealthTech and EdTech. I started my career at Deloitte in the US but decided that I want to spend the rest of my career building in Vietnam, so yeah. Happy to be back here again.

 

Jeremy Au: (03:11)

And also after some discussions about how to launch a podcast, which we recorded, you launched Forward Vietnam, which is one of the hottest Vietnam language podcasts. So if you speak Vietnamese, definitely check out her podcast later. If you don't speak Vietnamese, good luck with this one, I guess. I guess let's jump straight to it, right? So, Vietnam has an economic miracle. He’s grown 5X in terms of GDP per capita. Foreign direct investment is the highest in ASEAN excluding Singapor, of course. I pulled these facts from the wonderful Matthew McDonnell. Check out matthewmcdonnell.substack.com. He shares a little bit about this high-level overview and that was a very wonderful way to talk about Vietnam. It really seems to be the beneficiary of so many factors, educated the population on the links with China, but also to some extent, the links with people reshoring away from China into Southeast Asia and a lot of the stability, in terms of economic and social stability over the past decades. So really, it’s kind of like a tremendous place. What do you think about that? How have you seen Vietnam change from your own eyes?

 

Valerie Vu: (04:11)

Yeah. I always have had the strongest conviction in Vietnam, and that's why I make the move, leaving everything to move back to Vietnam. As you mentioned, Vietnam's economy is consistently one of the farthest-growing economies in the world. So last year, in 2022, Vietnam’s GDP grew by 8.02% which is the highest in the last 25 years of Vietnam's development. If you look at inflation, we are going reversing with the world trend. So our inflation is actually really under control compared to other countries in the world. And that's because during the two years of Covid, unlike all the governments who have been printing money, the Vietnam government actually did not do that and have really kind of reserved regulations and policies to monitor the economy. So that's why our inflation is really stable and this year, we are aiming for about 4.5% inflation, which is really low, lower than a lot of countries in the world. And in terms of FDI you mentioned, I think we might be one of the highest FDI destinations in Southeast Asia, and actually, the highest FDI investor for Vietnam is actually Singapore, another country in Southeast Asia.

Yeah, so, so a lot of robust statuses, a lot of talents. Vietnam, if you look at the innovation index, we are among the highest country within the lower middle-income country. That is the rank that has the highest innovation index. So the highest country with the highest innovation index among the low middle-income bucket is India and then followed by Vietnam. So Vietnam is always leading in Southeast Asia in terms of innovations, in terms of producing more engineering, STEM kind of talents. So, that's why my belief, my conviction in Vietnam is still stronger than ever.

 

Jeremy Au: (06:02)

Yeah, education is really interesting. I think prerequisite, obviously for technology as well as the value chain. Vietnam honestly benefits from two interesting parts, that I read. Of course, first of all, it has strong links with East Asian culture in terms of focus on outcomes like Korea, Japan, and China. So some similarities there in terms of focus on parenting and making sure there's learning. And also I think interestingly I was reading about how a lot of socialist countries around the world have really focused on Science and Engineering and Math to focus on, which is very much a Russian, China kind of like focus versus, humanities and so forth.

So, an interesting dividend, I guess from auto engineerings being trained. And I think what's interesting when I think about that is that there's a hunger when I meet a lot of Vietnamese folks, right? I think engineers are smart, they're savvy, they code and they're hungry, right? So how have you seen the next generation, Generation Z I guess, for Vietnamese folks? How are they hungry or different from other folks that you've met?

 

Valerie Vu: (07:03)

So this part, I'm so proud to mention I'm so impressed with Vietnamese Gen Z. Ever since my fund announcement, I never post anything about I have a job application open or I'm looking for an intern or anything because honestly, I'm not looking to hire anybody right now. I must receive over 10 resumes from young Vietnamese students who are in the first year or second year of their university. But the resume is so much more impressive than my own when I was their age and they sent me a long cover letter and on why they're interested in entrepreneurship, why they want to intern at a venture capital fund, why Vietnam? I'm happy to take calls with all of them.

But I might actually hire one just because they actually reach out to me and have been following up with me on so many levels even, sending me the investment recommendation, even though I did not ask them to. So I'm really happy and really impressed with Vietnamese Gen Z. and that's why I spend so much more time with Gen Z. If you want to kind of explore, there are about 17 million students in primary, secondary, and high school in Vietnam every year according to the Ministry of Education. So that's about one-fifth of Vietnam's population and monthly tuition for these students are about two, $2, to $13, including the extra supplementary classes. So every year, in Vietnam, Vietnamese students spend about 16 billion on after-school tuition because of the East Asian culture that you mentioned, like, we are so hungry to learn to get better to change our life. And that's why I invested in education technology as well. But yeah really proud of Vietnamese Gen Z.

 

Jeremy Au: (08:53)

Yeah. Well, first of all, you reveal our age because we hear you talking about Gen Z. Clearly we're not Gen Z.

 

Valerie Vu: (09:00)

I'm close enough to Gen Z, but mentally, I'm technically like Gen Z.

 

Jeremy Au: (09:07)

I think recently they called me a geriatric millennial, and I was like an elderly millennial. I was like, oh no. What's interesting, of course, is English fluency has really been improving, actually. So I think Gen Z versus Millennials in Vietnam. I think I really actually see that, not just of course, improving in terms of literacy standards, but also I think more exposure to English language content.

They're watching like Jason Calacanis and All In podcasts and a lot of different stuff. So it's kind of interesting to see them really work through that ladder. So what's interesting, like you said also earlier is there are some similarities with Singapore, right? So Singapore's pushing a lot of foreign direct investments into Vietnam. Definitely see that. I've met about three startups over the past two months who are basically looking to build out their engineering teams in Vietnam. And obviously, they need to communicate in Vietnamese, they're going to communicate in English across the whole team. And they're hiring, they're putting money, they're training, so an interesting kind of alliance. But also, as you said, Singapore also loves education and tuition as well, so I think some interesting parallels there.

I was recently met with a family office, right? And the US base and obviously thinking about moving money to Southeast Asia and obviously talking to the various geographies. So he was like, okay, Singapore, Switzerland, plus New York for ASEAN, easy, but very small. Okay. It obviously talks about Indonesia, right? So 200 million people America size, will get there eventually. What do the valuations look like? How should we think about it? And so, so forth. And then he was like, okay, I've heard about Vietnam and looks like Vietnam is benefiting from the decoupling so, so forth. But what is the future hold for Vietnam? And I think there were a lot of question marks because in his head, he was very clear about Singapore, he was very clear about Indonesia in terms of the story, but very unclear about the future of Vietnam. So I think let's talk about that bull versus bear, we'll just see what we can do. So I'll start with one. I think one positive thing is of course, the US and China, the decoupling of the supply chain, obviously I think it's bad for consumers everywhere around the world because things are gonna get more expensive.

What's interesting is that Vietnam is becoming a bit of a neutral place, it feels like, for manufacturing. Americans are happy to buy from Vietnam. Vietnam is happy to host manufacturing and create more jobs, middle-class jobs, and lots of Chinese companies are moving to Vietnam to transfer talent and labour, and take advantage of the labour cost arbitrage. So everybody benefits, right? It’s like China plus one strategy. But I think it's an interesting growth in the manufacturing sector. I guess, what do you think about that?

 

Valerie Vu: (11:36)

Yeah. So I've been fundraising, right? And I fundraised a lot last year, so this kind of question, I'm not too foreign with. I get a lot of doubts that some family offices, especially in the US, are interested but not comfortable enough to invest. But if you want to invest in Vietnam, you have to have a long-term belief and long-term commitment. This is not a market that you can invest in and get money out in like three to five years. If you come to Vietnam and that's what kind of, a timeline that you are looking for, then Vietnam is not for you unfortunately. Like if you look at, let's say for example the legal framework for digital payment. The likes of Momo, VNPAY, the current unicorn in digital payment right now. It took them more than 10 years to legalize and lobby and, work with the State Bank of Vietnam to bring the framework for digital payment into action. It's gonna take a long time. A lot of family office who doesn't have patient capital and really long-term belief in the growth of the country, then, it's pretty hard for me to actually work with them actually. A lot of the benefits from the Trade War are real.

So, Foxconn has already moved a lot of its manufacturing capability to Vietnam. I think airpods, Apple watch, and soon iPad are gonna be manufactured in Vietnam. Not only that, Samsung and LG, they're all moving to Vietnam. And I haven't really mentioned the garments and textile industry. It's about 40 billion export industries in Vietnam. I think it's only lower than China government industry. So all of this, like manufacturing, moving to Vietnam is actually improving Vietnamese people's life. And that's why, there's an emergence of middle-class emergence of new consumers, whose lives have been changed entirely because of this, like new jobs and new opportunities coming to their hometown. So it's, it's really insane how much our country has changed recently, but again, like if you don't have a long-term view and patient capital, then Vietnam probably ona day, you can find a quick return elsewhere.

 

Jeremy Au: (13:49)

Ooh, patient capital, does that exist anymore? It's an oxymoron maybe. So you need at least two to five years and you talk about how the public companies need at least 10 years to legalize and lobby for the exits. And I think that's really kind of like the other part of it. That's not about the bear point that we have here, right? It's like, the investor reflected me is like, oh, okay. The VNG group was supposed to list in the US, but unfortunately, they stated publicly that they had the list in the Vietnamese stock exchange due to government requirements. And so, there haven't been too many exits from the Vietnam ecosystem. And if there have been, they've been domestic. And if so, they've also kind of underperformed so far. So, and then also as a function of like government action, is it because of underperformance? It's hard to tell. So that's a question that people have. There's a bear point and a proof point. So how do you react to that?

 

Valerie Vu: (14:37)

Yeah, so that's another common question that I have to answer to potential LPs in my fundraising journey, but exit in Vietnam most likely happens through M&A rather than IPO because unfortunately, we don't have an exchange that allows the loss-making company to be IPO yet so APCOM is the only one that VNG was listed because of the government regulations. But even if APCOM is in APCOM, you can only make a loss in one year. So the next year, you have to turn profitable. However, there are a lot of actions lobbying being done by tech unicorns in Vietnam. So I'm happy to kind of join that if I can. My setups are still very early stage right now but to list out a few exits in Vietnam, we can see every credit got acquired. Also, VP Bank is also doing a deal with Sumitomo Financial Group. So a lot of M&A transaction is in the financial service industry. And Japanese banks have the patient capital that a lot of US investors don't have. And also, there are several more M&A transactions in Vietnam, such as foodie being acquired by C Group. So the exit is there.

You just have to be patient and I guess actively fight for it by helping the lobbying process, et cetera, instead of sitting there and complaining that actually Vietnam doesn't have any exit. So if you don't do anything, it's not going to be changed. You have to do something. And that's whyI launched my fund. I want to actively be a voice in the ecosystem instead of just sitting there and complaining.

 

Jeremy Au: (16:31)

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And honestly, I think I get the same sense as well that because of that unclarity, it means that if you were to invest in Vietnam, in technology, you're more likely to invest in the early stage where you're at because you still can make good returns by true trade sale and M&A versus I think if you're trying to deploy larger checks or late stage capital in Vietnam, then there's a lot of question marks about, more question marks than you would if you were kind of like building a company in, say Indonesia. Obviously, I think we still have Vietnamese companies increasingly domiciled in Singapore. That's why I'd see a lot. So they travel, fly to Singapore, they sign out various documents, and then you have a Singapore entity, you have a Vietnamese entity. I guess one more positive side is it feels like Vietnamese folks are really pushing hard to attract more foreign direct investment which has not been necessarily the same. I think in China, there's a lot of FDI that is slowed on both ends, right? Both on the entry point from the recipient, but also from other folks putting in. It feels like Vietnam is very open to funding our investment. It's trying to attract more and also vice versa. Sighting FDI is willing to come in, not necessarily again in terms of late-stage tech capital, but perhaps in a form of engineering hardware, factory factories, and, so forth. And it's coming from both China and America. How do you see that changing in the future? Do you feel like that's going to continue?

 

Valerie Vu: (17:52)

Yeah, definitely. Our government wants to attract more FDI. we're still a developing country. There's still a lot of sectors that need FDI given how our economy last year saw a lot of crackdown in the real estate sectors. So our Prime Minister wants to increase credit growth, increase economic growth and attract more FDI investor, and that's why our central bank just cut the discount rate to 3.5% effectively yesterday. We also reduce the lending rate in the interbank market to 6% and, also lower the cap on the lending interest rate for short term loans. This is, again, going really reversing, with the world trend. So there's a lot of difference between US and Vietnam right now. So, the US, like the Fed, keeps increasing the rate, but the Vietnamese government is actually trying its best to support economic growth and control inflation at the same time, even though the world bank adjusted for the GDP growth forecast for Vietnam this year. So initially the forecast was about eight, 8%. But then we adjusted the economy GDP growth to 6.3% because of inflation. I'm pretty positive, cautiously positive about the rise of FDI to Vietnam in the following years.

 

Jeremy Au: (19:20)

Yeah, I think it's interesting to see again, FDI comes from both sides, right? It comes from both China, Asia and America. So I think it looks like it's coming from everywhere because normally, I think other places are kind of like a push and pull, right? So one is leaving and one is coming in, right? So I think it's an interesting dynamic here. I think one of the big complaints I always remember is like, when Singapore's absorbing a lot of FDI there's eventually a kind of like cultural pushback by society saying like, okay, there's too much money coming in from other people, or frustrated because, I mean, this doesn't just show up as hardware in the factory. It shows up in cars or rich people walking around, so is that gonna be like a societal pushback or how does that work out from your perspective?

 

Valerie Vu: (20:00)

I don't think so. Singapore is already developed as a country, a developed economy whereas Vietnam, we are still trying to improve its GDP per capita. We are still classified as a frontier market. So we want to move to that emerging market status. So I don't think it's the same sentiment with Singapore.

 

Jeremy Au: (20:20)

Yeah, that's great to hear. And I think it's been surprising. I always hear about how a lot of Americans are always surprised that they feel like they're welcomed right now, even though obviously American-Vietnam history has not been peaceful. I guess that's a nice way of saying it. But it feels like memories are a bit shorter. I mean, is there, I think some people ask like, hey, am I going to be welcome in America? Why don't you answer that question? Am I, as an American, welcome in Vietnam?

 

Valerie Vu: (20:46)

Oh, more than welcome. So Vietnam, if you look at pop culture, we actually lean more toward American culture. But if you look at politics, we are more leaning toward China. So because we are such a small country that wants to be independent we have to stay kind of neutral, right? I think as a Singaporean, you understand it really well. And the war has been, such a long time passed already. We normalize trading, we normalize the kind of exchange between the two countries a long time ago. So, I think the largest export partner for Vietnam right now is indeed the US. So very important trade partner for Vietnam.

 

Jeremy Au: (21:35)

Yeah, well now I have to swim back to the bear side. So, Asia Partners obviously release a report in January. Again, a 300 plus-page report. And I think they had a really great set of slides that we did cover in a previous podcast, so please check it out if you haven't, at www.bravesea.com. But I think basically it did a map between, the Y axis was stock market performance. So how is that growing? And then on the X axis, it shows GDP growth effectively, right? And so what they were trying to point out was that in general, as a country grows, the economic growth can be fully captured by shareholders. So imagine this, the theoretical line going from bottom left to top. And there are some companies where countries where have poor economic growth as some markets's doing really well, so that means it's kind of decoupled from actual growth. But what was interesting to share was they were saying there's a bunch of countries around the world where there's strong economic growth, but a limited amount of that growth is actually being captured by shareholders.

And so the countries you mentioned were like China, Vietnam and more recently Indonesia and Singapore have started to combat approach that as well. But I think China and Vietnam, in terms of like the biggest gap, right from that theoretical line has really been interesting. And of course, Asia Partners, at a high level, talks about how, because of similarities on the role of capital and how it should be divided. So I thought it was an interesting conversation because then, what they are theorizing is like, what does that mean for the future? It doesn't, not to make conclusions, I'm looking forward to next year's report. So I hope you hear that Nick Nash. So, I'm just kind of curious here about how you think about that.

 

Valerie Vu: (23:16)

Yeah, I think it's an interesting point to mention. So Vietnam index is the worst underperforming stock market. If you compare the average of its regional peer stock market. So if you compare to, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam index is the worst. Even though our economy is developing much faster, much better than other countries. The P/E multiple for Vietnam is the cheapest right now. So if you look at the 2023 PE forward multiple, it's about eight to nine x, which is like 40% lower than the P/E forward multiple of another neighbouring country in theASEAN. What did they say?

And also our banking system faced a lot of liquidity issues last year. I think that's also a reason why it was underperforming. But fundamentally, because I think the stock market has not seen a lot of participation from retail investors, but rather very concentrated in a few kind of manipulators and big wells. And that's why the VN Index doesn't justify our actual, normal GDP growth. So, also if you look at regulations for our financial market, it's still a bit underdeveloped.

So, our bond regulations are still going through a lot of adjustment, especially with the real estate bonds last year. Even like regulation in terms of allowing loss making company to be IPO. I want to reiterate on the point that Vietnam requires long-term capital, patient capital, long-term horizon, long-term view because we are still trying to improve ourselves, making the financial market more mature. That's my main point regarding the VN index.

 

Jeremy Au: (25:14)

Yeah, I mean, obviously that's the dissonance, right? This is like Vietnam is growing like crazy on GDP per capita and GDP and then stock market is like bloop, bloop, bloop.

 

Valerie Vu: (25:27)

Yeah. It's controlled by too many well investors and not who trade based on insider information and not fundamental analysis. So we need more retail investors. We need more, I guess, fundamental investors, joining the VN index. So this morning, Barn ETF officially invested in Vietnam stock market. So things like this will come slowly, step by step and that's why you need to be patient with Vietnam.

 

Jeremy Au: (25:55)

So what's been interesting is that you mentioned about manipulators and about there's a banking liquidity crisis and I think since then I think it's really triggered a whole bunch of cleanup and anti-corruption work by the government. There's a lot of financial system and accompanying reform that's happening. So what do you think about that? Do you feel like that's working out?

 

Valerie Vu: (26:18)

Yeah, another major frequent question that I get from LPs. So as I mentioned before, we get a lot of learning and inspiration from Chinese politics. So China has also the consolidation of power and also the anti-corruption campaign was done or done in the last eight years. Vietnam, also going through the anti-corruption campaign. But it was done a bit in a shorter timeline. So things might seem a bit overwhelming for a lot of foreign investors, especially US investors who are not as familiar with Asian politics. Our anti-corruption campaign was done in the last two years. But I think this is a change for good, a change for the better. But they still want to attract more FDI for the country and still want the economy of the country to grow, improve our Vietnamese people's life and move up our economy.

 

Jeremy Au: (27:19)

I think the crux of it is anti-corruption is great. I mean corruption is bad. Nobody in a system benefits from corruption.And rent-seeking behavior, especially when you talk about technology startups, they're looking to create customer value, try to climb up the value chain, and be able to serve customers that are not being served by incumbents. So, adding less corruption is great for the technology sector. That being said, of course, as you said, it's Asian politics. And I think people have forgotten that Singapore has had a very strong anti-corruption drive, multiple drives over the decades. And I think the reason why Singapore is trusted as an FDI destination is because of that perception of strong anti-corruption requirements, but also strong anti-corruption culture. So I think that the interesting part is obviously it's not just one drive, it's multiple campaigns.

So it's always a painful transition. But of course, people are always concerned if anti-corruption drives drive more corruption. At the end of the day, as we look a little bit further down the road, what would you think are the most important changes or proof points that Vietnam as a market needs to demonstrate in order to attract technology investments and support?

 

Valerie Vu: (28:30)

Yeah. I think the most important factor is the openness and friendliness of the government to support the young. We need more sandbox regulatory framework and encouragement from the State Bank of Vietnam to allow setups to experiment with new technology, whether it be open banking digital lending, et cetera. So I think I want to always start with FinTech because FinTech startups in Vietnam right now are being led by hustlers, pure hustlers. They don't know if a digital bank, open banking if digital lending will be legal. I mean, they don't want to wait for the State Bank of Vietnam to actually allow them to have a proper framework. They’re still building anyway, so this is the exact story of Momo 15 years ago. So the chairman and CEO of Momo is one of my really highly respected mentors. He literally starts Momo with a PC in his apartment like this because he believes in the future of mobile payment, so mobile economy.

He shared with me that he did the MBA in Chicago Booth. His professor advised him that, if you want to build something for the future and for the next 10 years, mobile is the future. So that's why he moved back to Vietnam, also left a really cushy, high-paying job in the US, moved back to Vietnam, started Momo in this tiny apartment and lobby, and I guess really work with the State Bank of Vietnam to implement a legal framework for digital payment. And it took more than 10 years, I think 15 years. So a lot of other startups, whether it's like Cake, Timo, other banking funding societies who have expanded to Vietnam, other lending, digital lending startups who have expanded to Vietnam that are allowing the SMEs to thrive in Vietnam right now, they are purely run by hustlers.

There's no support or open sandbox from the State Bank of Vietnam right now, but they still do it anyway. So I just wish that we have a bit more clear guidance and clear support from the government.

 

Jeremy Au: (31:01)

Yeah. There was state action right by the finance regulator asking all the various trading apps and robot advisors right to seek licensing which was like a systematic crisis across, simultaneously, across all the various Y Combinator-back, slash you know local, slash regional apps, that were servicing Vietnamese customers as well. And the problem was it was also a pretty short deadline too that was like a very weird moment for so many folks. So I guess for me, on my end, I think the biggest thing that Vietnam needs to show is consistency. All the measures that you just mentioned, all the trends are, in every market, like you said, there's good things, there's bad things. Even if you look at the US as a market, there's good things, there's bad things. So I think people have to make individual decisions, but the part that frightens investors is unpredictability. So you are predictably good on these things and predictably bad on these things. Everybody's like, okay, I got a handle on this. But to make investments in technology where your time horizon is effective, on average 10 years, maybe 15 years, it requires all these LPs to suddenly become economic, slash social historians, slash forecasters reading Ray Dalio's book.

That's the tricky part. Consistency is the part that just maybe 10 more years of Vietnam being Vietnam is what I think is what's needed.

 

Valerie Vu: (32:33)

Yep. Again, moral of the story is patient capital. Yeah.

 

Jeremy Au: (32:42)

Oxymoron. Capital is the only one that returns, but you're right. I think capital can be patient in some scenarios, especially when the returns are over a longer period of time and your time horizon. We saw in the Asian financial crisis that there's a lot of impatient capital that moved in and out really quickly and, was not the right form of capital for the region. So when you think about patient capital, obviously there's something that you said four or five times now. What are your hopes, for patient capital?

 

Valerie Vu: (33:07)

Yeah. Definitely my hope is to see more talents returning to Vietnam. I'm also building a career opportunity in the Vietnam group. Mostly young professionals overseas. We actually have really many talented people. And as I mentioned earlier, I'm so impressed with Vietnam’s Gen Z but they all choose to start their career in a developed country right now. So Singapore, the US, Europe. So, I have to spend a lot of time consulting them and giving them advice on how to best move back to Vietnam and navigate the differences here. That's why I'm passionate about building a community, and want to give out the best, educational content. And that's why I do the Forward Vietnam podcast in Vietnamese to invite them and to attract them back to Vietnam. So, really, showing my conviction and building up their conviction as well to the country so that they can move back home in making an impact at home and building up Vietnam. I think that's the most important element right now.

 

Jeremy Au: (34:11)

Yeah, I think Asia Partners and then later January Capital talk about Vietnamese sea turtles as the trend to watch for in 2023. The sea turtle is someone who came from, again, a Chinese term which means that they left for distant shores and then they came back, so they talk about Vietnam sea turtles. For all the Vietnam diaspora who's listening wherever they are, what advice do you have for them to evaluate whether to come back to Vietnam and how to come back to Vietnam?

 

Valerie Vu: (34:40)

I think I repeat this too many times, but again, having a long-term horizon and long-term commitment and adjusting your expectations. You cannot move back to Vietnam and ask for a salary that is the same as your US salary. That doesn't happen. Really just move back. See how life here is, how hardworking Vietnamese people are. Don't just spend time in Ho Chi Minh city or Hanoi, go to tier three tier two cities and see how life is there. See how ordinary Vietnamese are working, living, how hungry they are and again, having a long-term commitment. Don't chase for high salary at the beginning. If you really come in with a passion, with a heart, with a belief and conviction, it will pay off.

 

Jeremy Au: (35:33)

Awesome. Well, on that note thank you so much Valerie for sharing all your thoughts. Three big takeaways I got, of course was the deep dive on Vietnam from both your local, slash GP, slash emerging fund manager slash proud citizen perspective. The second of course was really the bull versus bear, the factors that are positive, the factors that are concerning and that range from education to the French drawing, slash manufacturing supply chain. And of course on the other end, we talked about how we are concerned about some of the legislation around exit pathing and technology startups as well as talking a little bit more about some of the other dynamics we had. We also talk about the importance of patient capital in terms of making a decision about Vietnam, and we also talk about some of the impacts and hopes for the current anti corruption campaign. So, on that note, thank you so much, Valerie. I look forward to hanging out with you in Vietnam this week and then let's go party slash talk business.

 

Valerie Vu: (36:31)

Yes, yes. You mentioned something I really like, just that I'm a proud Vietnamese citizen. I have a Vietnamese passport, I'm proud of it. I'm proud of being Vietnamese. There's so much history in the country. We, as Vietnamese go through so much pain and history in the past, so many wars, but we are still standing here protecting our country. So just be proud and take ownership of that identity. That's my message to a lot of Vietnamese diasporas overseas right now. Yeah. Can't wait to see you in Vietnam.

 

Jeremy Au: (37:04)

Yeah. Awesome See you.

 

Valerie Vu: (37:06)

See you.