Woomentum is bringing women-focussed crowdfunding to Vietnam

Yon Heong Tung
Woomentum

Woomentum will initiate its entry into Vietnam with the hosting of CrowdFundHer Live, a pitching event

Singapore-based women entrepreneur community platform Woomentum has announced its expansion into regional emerging markets. Its first stop: Vietnam.

Woomentum will mark its entry by hosting its signature event, CrowdFundHer Live!, an offline crowdfunding competition in Ho Chi Minh City on 25 April 2017 at Dreamplex 2 (more details here).

CrowdFundHer Live! works similarly to a pitching session — startups present their concepts live to a panel of investors, mentors and other entrepreneurs. The exceptional criterion is that each startup has to have at least one woman co-founder.

Woomentum’s Vietnam tour will be the first time CrowdFundHer live will be held outside of Singapore. Woomentum has already shortlisted the six Vietnamese startups that will be participating. They are:

  • Rudicaf:  Rudicaf is a subscription-based dating app in Vietnam for high profile single professionals
  • Phleek:  Phleek is a personal styling app in Vietnam, which analyses the user’s style profile based on swiping left/right on the outfits Tinder-style. Phleek then connects them to their own personal stylist, who sends weekly outfit recommendations which users can browse and purchase.
  • EnGeek: EnGeek! is an education app that aims to help English learners master
    thousands of difficult academic words quickly, using techniques devised by Cambridge’s memory and linguistics experts.
  • CricketOne: CricketOne is an Agritech business, or insect (cricket) protein production. CricketOne acquires used shipping containers and equip them with technologies so that everyone can rear crickets fed on agricultural by-products or waste efficiently.
  • DropDeck: DropDeck is a web platform that helps investors source and evaluate startups efficiently. It provides a tool to help entrepreneurs prepare and arrange information in the most investor-centric way.
  • Fastsell: Fastsell is a classifieds marketplace app.

Beyond the offline crowdfunding event, Woomentum will roll out its digital platform in Vietnam in the coming months. This means that Vietnamese entrepreneurs will not only be able to crowdsource funds, but they can also access the platform’s  ‘Quora’-like feature, wherein women entrepreneurs can share professional advice and receive mentoring from more experienced founders.

Also read: Watch the 7 graduates from the first VIISA accelerator batch pitch in Vietnam

e27 caught up with the founder of Woomentum, Mouna Aouri Langendorf, to find out more about her thoughts on Vietnam and her plans for the platform.

What are your thoughts on Vietnam’s tech ecosystem? Does it have a gender diversity problem?

I have recently been invited to speak at the Forbes Vietnam Women Summit along side with the CEO of Vietjet Air and the 50 top selected most powerful Vietnamese women in the country. There were about 2,000 women and men in the audience, the debate was around of course women’s participation in the leadership positions and also in the STEM space.

What I learnt is that Vietnamese economy can benefit from involvement by women because they are very strong and ambitious, like in many countries around the world, they are still held back by cultural constraints and expectations around the role they should take in society in as opposed to men. It is still not well regarded when women outperform men. So that’s a huge struggle for them. But that will change.

I have observed from over 35 startup applications to our event that young Vietnamese women are innovating in many areas but still need advice and mentoring to navigate in a male dominated ecosystem. They were happy to apply to ‘Woomentum’, a name that is women-friendly but that is still a well-connected platform to the startup ecosystem, rather than an NGO that supports women — which we are SO NOT.

Can you tell me more about CrowdFundHer Live!?

This CrowdFundHer Live! is the 5th and the 1st overseas – CrowdFundHer Live is a powerful way to seed, build, and engage our community.

Our vision is to become the number one and the largest P2P platform in Southeast Asia by 2019 that supports connects founders to the mentors, experts, and the investors — everything they need to grow and scale their businesses.

We want to see more female innovators, and we expect to be the place to go for them. By requiring at least one female co-founder in the team we create a very diverse startup culture!

How much have the investors at CrowdFundHer Live! pledged so far?

30 per cent of our audience do pledge both in the event (offline) but also online (Woomentum.fund). Amounts range from US$25 to US$15,000 some for perks in return, and some are from angels as a way to support the founders.

Also read: Women tech founders need to become thought leaders, and here are key reasons why we need to get rid of subconscious biases

In Vietnam, we have partnered with CITIPASS to handle the payments of contributions on the event (People don’t really use PayPal and Credit cards in Vietnam yet).

And I understand that mentors/attendees can also pledge their time, as well?

In our last 4th CrowdFundHer Live! hosted at Bloomberg we raised 298 expert hours within 25 minutes from both the audience and the panel. It was AMAZING! We have our strategy to encourage and motivate everyone to contribute with their time which is also in a way a great opportunities for experts to find leads for their business should the startup decides to continue working with them.

You mentioned previously that Woomentum’s “Quora”-like community platform has over 3,000 members. Can you name me some of the prominent mentors on the platform?

We have serial entrepreneurs, investors, IT consultants, financial advisors, authors and many other experienced corporate professionals. We believe expertise is all about access. Our value proposition is to make expertise, mentoring and business advice easily and readily accessible to our members.

Hence, we are interested in bringing the experts that are willing to put in the time and are closer to our members. Perhaps having Sheryl Sandberg will be good for our PR but i do not believe she will be able to answer any of the questions.

For each country to expand we plan to localise our content and engage local experts while giving our members access to across border communities.

Are you active in other parts of the Mekong region? I seem to recall you are going to Cambodia.

Absolutely, our next three markets are Indonesia, Mynamar and Cambodia. It is all about the right time and the right partnerships. Myanmar is our next move as I have some consulting work there and the network between my family business and me is growing fast.

Our decision of going to Vietnam came after I worked with my Vietnamese tech team there for three years and after I met my Vietnamese business partner Ngcoc Anh Hoang in Vietnam. Moreover, it is just the perfect time to go there.

The growth is phenomenal, and the female entrepreneurs are increasingly engaging in the tech/entrepreneurship space. We don’t only want to facilitate that growth but we also want to be fully part of it.

Also read: Crowdfunding corner: 9 steps to a successful fundraiser

Can you tell me more about your monetisation model for Woomentum?

We have secured a few corporate strategic deals and that is giving cashflow. I also believe we reach the point where our value as a platform and a network is growing fast and we would like to pick the right strategic investor that brings not only money but also a strong network across region.

For now we would like to focus on seeding and growing our community which the asset and the key success for our brand and business.

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Image Credit: Woomentum

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