Rising Titans: A Comparative Journey of Startup Ecosystems in Indonesia vs Vietnam

Introduction Between Indonesia vs Vietnam in Startup

Drawing a parallel from the football match history between Indonesia vs Vietnam, the rivalry between those extends also in startups ecosystem.

Since 2014, Indonesia and Vietnam have faced each other 13 times, with Vietnam holding a competitive edge. Vietnam has won 4 matches, while Indonesia has not won any, and the remaining 9 matches ended in draws. This trend is evident across various competitions such as World Cup Qualification, AFC, AFC Asian Cup, AFF Championship, and International Friendly Games. Similarly, the startup ecosystems in these countries reflect a competitive spirit with unique strengths and challenges.

READ ALSO: HoK vs MLBB: Could Tencent’s Crown Prince Dethrone the King of Mobile Esports in SEA

The Southeast Asian startup ecosystem has been rapidly evolving, with Indonesia and Vietnam emerging as significant players in the region. Both countries boast vibrant entrepreneurial landscapes, yet they present unique characteristics in terms of the number of unicorns, funding scenarios, government support, challenges, and future prospects. This essay aims to provide a comparative analysis of the startup ecosystems in Indonesia vs Vietnam, exploring these key aspects in detail.

Unicorns: A Measure of Success

Unicorns, startups valued at over $1 billion, serve as a barometer of a country’s startup ecosystem maturity. Indonesia stands out in this regard with a remarkable number of unicorns. As of 2024, Indonesia is home to 15 unicorns, including prominent names like Gojek, Tokopedia, Traveloka, Bukalapak, and OVO. This significant number reflects the robust growth and investor confidence in the Indonesian market.

In contrast, Vietnam, while rapidly growing, has fewer unicorns. As of 2024, Vietnam has produced eight unicorns, up from only four in 2021. Although fewer in number compared to Indonesia, these unicorns signify the potential of the Vietnamese startup ecosystem and its trajectory towards growth.

Funding Landscape

The funding landscape in both countries highlights the scale and investor interest in their respective markets. Indonesia has witnessed substantial funding rounds, with Gojek’s $3 billion funding round in 2019 standing as the largest. This massive investment underscores Indonesia’s appeal to global investors and the confidence in its leading startups.

Vietnam, while not yet reaching the same funding heights as Indonesia, has also seen significant investments. VNLife raised over $300 million in 2019 from SoftBank Vision Fund and Singapore’s GIC, marking one of the largest funding rounds in the country. Another notable funding round was MoMo’s $200 million in 2021, which propelled the company to unicorn status.

In terms of total funding, Indonesia’s startup ecosystem secured approximately $4.2 billion from 260 funding transactions in 2022, despite a decrease from $6.9 billion in 2021. This highlights Indonesia’s position as a leading destination for startup investments in Southeast Asia. Vietnam’s total startup funding in 2022 was significantly lower, but the country still attracted considerable investments across various sectors.

Government Support: A Comparative Analysis

Government support plays a crucial role in nurturing and sustaining startup ecosystems. In this regard, both Indonesia and Vietnam have made significant strides, though with differing approaches and levels of impact.

Indonesia’s Government Support:

The Indonesian government has been proactive in supporting its startup ecosystem through various initiatives and policies. Programs like “1000 Startups Movement” aim to create 1000 startups by 2020 and have since been extended. Additionally, the government offers incentives such as tax breaks, grants, and access to funding through institutions like the Indonesia Investment Authority.

Moreover, Indonesia has established several tech hubs and incubators, fostering innovation and providing startups with the necessary resources to grow. The government’s focus on digital transformation, especially in sectors like fintech, e-commerce, and logistics, has further bolstered the startup ecosystem.

Vietnam’s Government Support:

Vietnam has also made commendable efforts to support its startup ecosystem. The government launched the “National Program to Support an Innovative Startup Ecosystem by 2025” (Project 844) to create a conducive environment for startups. This program includes initiatives like tax incentives, grants, and the establishment of innovation hubs and incubators.

Furthermore, the Vietnamese government has been actively promoting digital transformation through its “Make in Vietnam” initiative, encouraging local startups to develop innovative solutions. The focus on sectors like fintech, healthtech, and agritech aligns with the country’s developmental goals and creates opportunities for startups to thrive.

Comparative Analysis:

While both governments have demonstrated strong support for their startup ecosystems, Indonesia appears to have a more comprehensive and established framework. The sheer number of unicorns and the scale of funding in Indonesia suggest a more mature ecosystem, potentially indicating more effective government policies and support mechanisms. However, Vietnam’s recent initiatives and growing investments signal a rapidly improving environment, which could catch up with Indonesia in the near future.

Challenges Faced by Startups in Indonesia and Vietnam

Both Indonesia and Vietnam present unique challenges for startups, although some commonalities exist.


  1. Regulatory Hurdles: Navigating Indonesia’s complex regulatory environment can be challenging for startups. Inconsistent regulations and bureaucratic red tape often hinder growth.
  2. Infrastructure Gaps: Despite improvements, infrastructure, especially in rural areas, remains a challenge, affecting logistics and distribution for startups.
  3. Talent Shortage: There is a shortage of skilled talent, particularly in tech and managerial roles, which hampers the scaling of startups.


  1. Regulatory Environment: Similar to Indonesia, Vietnam’s regulatory framework can be cumbersome. Startups often face challenges related to obtaining licenses and navigating legal complexities.
  2. Access to Funding: While improving, access to funding remains a challenge for many Vietnamese startups, particularly those in the early stages.
  3. Market Maturity: Vietnam’s market is still maturing, and consumer adoption of new technologies can be slower compared to more developed markets.

Comparative Analysis:

Both countries face regulatory challenges, but Indonesia’s more established ecosystem might provide slightly better support structures to navigate these issues. Infrastructure and talent shortage are more pronounced in Indonesia, while Vietnam’s primary challenges lie in funding access and market maturity. However, both countries are actively working to address these challenges, which bodes well for their future.

Additional Comparisons Between Indonesia vs Vietnam

To further understand the nuances of these ecosystems, consider these additional comparisons:

  1. Internet Penetration: Indonesia has a higher internet penetration rate, with around 66% of the population online, compared to Vietnam’s 79%.
  2. Mobile Economy: Both countries have a high mobile penetration rate, but Indonesia’s larger population translates to a bigger mobile user base, fostering a more extensive market for mobile-based services and startups.
  3. Startup Density: Vietnam has a higher startup density relative to its population size. This means there are more startups per capita in Vietnam, which can indicate a more intense entrepreneurial activity relative to its market size.

Future Prospects: Indonesia vs Vietnam in Startup Ecosystem

The future prospects for the startup ecosystems in Indonesia and Vietnam are promising, albeit with some differences.


Indonesia is poised to continue its upward trajectory, driven by a large and growing digital-savvy population. The government’s ongoing support, combined with significant investor interest, suggests that more unicorns will emerge, and existing startups will continue to scale. Sectors like fintech, e-commerce, and healthtech are expected to drive future growth.


Vietnam’s startup ecosystem is on a promising path, with increasing investments and government initiatives fostering innovation. The focus on digital transformation and the development of key sectors like fintech, agritech, and healthtech will likely propel the ecosystem forward. Vietnam is expected to see a rise in the number of startups and potentially more unicorns in the coming years.

Number of Unicorns (2024)158
Largest Known Funding Round$3 billion (Gojek, 2019)$300 million (VNLife, 2019)
Government Startup Programs1000 Startups Movement, Digital Economy Initiative, Indonesia Investment AuthorityNational Program to Support an Innovative Startup Ecosystem by 2025 (Project 844), Make in Vietnam Initiative
Key ChallengesRegulatory Hurdles, Infrastructure Gaps, Talent ShortageRegulatory Environment, Access to Funding, Market Maturity
Focus Sectors for GrowthFintech, E-commerce, HealthtechFintech, Agritech, Healthtech
Internet Penetration Rate66%79%
Mobile EconomyLarger mobile user baseHigh mobile penetration rate
Startup DensityLower relative to population sizeHigher relative to population size
Prediction for FutureContinued growth, more unicorns, significant investor interestRapid growth, increasing unicorns, improving funding landscape


In conclusion, while Indonesia currently leads in terms of the number of unicorns, funding, and overall ecosystem maturity, Vietnam is rapidly catching up. Both countries have demonstrated strong government support and are actively addressing their respective challenges. The future looks bright for both Indonesia and Vietnam, with significant potential for growth and innovation in their startup ecosystems. As these ecosystems continue to evolve, they will not only drive economic growth but also contribute to the broader Southeast Asian entrepreneurial landscape.

Just as in their football rivalry, where Vietnam has held a competitive edge in recent years, the startup ecosystems in these two countries are marked by a spirited competition. This dynamic ensures that both Indonesia and Vietnam will continue to push each other towards greater innovation and success, much to the benefit of the entire region.

Yabes Elia

Yabes Elia

An empath, a jolly writer, a patient reader & listener, a data observer, and a stoic mentor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.