Did I ever play a part in inflating startup companies’ valuation?


I apologize for a very long break in updating this blog without a notice. But here I’m back.

A bit of update from my side: I have left DEALSTREETASIA to a new position at Mekong Capital, Vietnam’s earliest private equity fund manager, being in charge of corporate communications.

The transition explains the long pause in feeding VStartup. But it has broadened my view on how to write about entrepreneurship. In the end, this blog is not limited to articles about new tech startup companies. It’s about business stories from a content writer’s viewpoint.

When things got quite settled down at Mekong Capital (I joined the firm almost 3 months ago), I promised myself to resume VStartup, and the very first idea that came into my mind was to tell the truth about the media frenzy around startups in Vietnam.

I had nearly 20 posts on VStartup, all about promoting startups in Vietnam. Those were nice truths.

This post is going to be kind of an ugly truth.

Am I going against what I saw and wrote before? No. It’s just because now I’m in a different position that allows me to see that the media attention to startups is irrational.

Government statistics showed that Vietnam had around 600,000 enterprises by the end of 1H2017, some 96% of which were operating in the private sector. The number of startup companies might be around 3,000, which is only 0.5% of the total private companies. Still, what looks like to me is nearly half of business coverage in Vietnam is about startups.

Let’s take this as an example:

There are 53,800 results for “Shark Tank Viet Nam” on Google News search, even as the TV series was launched only three months ago. That’s almost 600 URLs per day! When Mekong Capital met a senior editor in Hanoi, a third of our conversation was about startups and Shark Tank, as the editor ignited (well, he knew Mekong Capital is not a VC firm).

Meanwhile, Google showed 318,000 results for “Chung khoan Viet Nam” (Vietnamese securities) – a 17-year-old market.

It’s good to promote a young sector. But it should be realistic and reflecting the right position that the sector is playing in the context of the entire economy. Balancing the coverage amongst different sectors can help avoid valuation inflation and lead to a sustainable business environment.

Words are powerful. One’s decision can be bent towards what’s said or written, especially when it is repeated constantly. Unless you write something very insightful, something that is a big achievement or even a big failure, your stories won’t add much value.

Opinions are personal and you might not find them right at your standpoint. This blog post of mine is opened for debates. Please share and comment if you think I’m “wrong”.

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