Nestled in the Silicon Valley is an innovative, venture capital investor called 500 Startups. By investing in talented entrepreneurs, 500 Startups impacts our world by helping start-ups create successful companies, allowing foreign markets to thrive. More than half of the invested companies are located outside the United States, including countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, China, Egypt, South Korea and Lebanon.
500 Startups in Vietnam
500 Startups focuses on investing in emerging markets that struggle with poverty and poor living conditions in order to achieve the greatest amount of positive change. One example of how 500 Startups impacts our world is the organization’s work is in Vietnam. Just a few years ago, companies would not have thought to make investments in technology in Vietnam. The World Bank listed the country’s GDP per capita at barely more than $2,000, and the country was struggling with government corruption. However, low-cost, high-tech talent caught the eye of 500 Startups, which began a partnership that is having a lasting, positive impact on the country.
In November 2018, the company exceeded its Vietnam startup fund target by four million dollars, raising $14 million to support more than 36 startups in the country to fund sectors such as education, financial services and transportation. According to 500 Startups partner Eddie Thai, “People in Vietnam understand the pains of poverty more intimately than their counterparts in San Francisco, New York, or London, and so are probably better positioned to find solutions for them.” 500 Startups’ increased activity in the region has inspired other investors to invest their resources. Startup funding has increased from 29 deals in 2013 to 92 deals in 2017.
500 Startups Offers Training in the U.S.
Not only does Startup 500 invest directly overseas, but it also brings startup teams to Silicon Valley in order to participate in an intense, four-month-long boot camp that teaches important strategies in sales, fundraising and storying telling. At the end of the camp, each organization participates in Demo Day where they present how they have grown throughout the course.
Once the startups are transformed into lucrative businesses, they are able to positively benefit their countries back home. Copper Cow Coffee, founded by Debbie Wei Mullin, delivers Vietnamese coffee through biodegradable pour over technology to homes and offices. Now based in Los Angeles, Copper Cow Coffee supports sustainable, organic agriculture in Vietnam. The company has grown to 3,000 stores since 2016.
500 Startups Invests in the U.S.
500 Startups also invests in companies across the United States. One company, KiwiCo, creates educational and craft activities for kids aged five to eight by delivering monthly subscription boxes. CEO Sandra Oh Lin said, “We help kids see themselves as citizens of our global community: to develop an appreciation for other cultures, and to grow their understanding of – and empathy for – communities and customs beyond their own experience.” These “hands-on” projects are available to satisfy a number of interests from arts to science to geography.
KiwiCo also helps educate kids in poverty. Budget and education cuts have hindered American school systems and their access to classroom supplies. It is estimated that “one in 10 teachers at high poverty-schools spends $1000 or more each year” on materials. KiwiCo has partnered with ClassTag Coins to offer exclusive discounts to teachers as well as ways access these supplies through community interaction.
500 Startups is a company that sees and rewards innovation. Its work helps to create job opportunities through funding and training people around the world. How 500 Startups impacts our world will continue through its investments, going above and beyond funding new companies. This organization is actually changing our world for the better.
– Grace Klein