Following the launch of our startup series, we decided to write a piece explaining why Saigon is a perfect place to build a startup. In short, it is the perfect city for bootstrappers and dreamers. Living costs are insanely low, getting around is unbelievably easy, and the visionary energy is abundant. We go more into these reasons below.
1) Saigon is Lean and Versatile
The prevalence of motorbikes in Saigon makes it incredibly easy to move around. Perfect for entrepreneurs who need to hop around multiple locales at once. If you do not want to drive your own motorbike, you can hire a “Xe Om,” which is a Vietnamese motorbike taxi. Short trips range from 80 cents to $1.60 USD. Yes, you read that right. A longer trip might cost you $4. Compare that to an Uber in the United States, where the average price for a ride hovers from $12-14. Or even worse, a taxi. On that tangent, Ubers are only slightly more expensive than motorbike taxis in Saigon. You can snag a ride from District 1 to District 7 for approximately 100,000 VND, which is a little over $4.
Entrepreneurs in the states may not be able to move around as much because big city transportation costs are hefty and add up. Even if they were able to afford constant commute, wait times are not always convenient. In Saigon, it is cheap easy for startup members to hop to one place, work on a product, and then jump to another place easily. Gyms, restaurants, and co-working spaces abound in the city. You do not have to give up an hour to meet a co-worker or squeeze a workout in. It is lean and versatile – as every startup should be.
2) Saigon is Insanely Affordable
The average salary of a coder is around $1,000 USD a month. Compare that to the cost of development in San Francisco. If you really want to bootstrap, you could live like our friend Kevin Cook from Monkey Abroad, who gets around Saigon for less than $20 USD a day. For the more traditional entrepreneur, living costs could hover slightly over $1,000 a month. Having room service is cheap. Getting a private chef is cheap. Because general expenses are so low, your lifestyle would still be considered rather luxurious. It is much easier to crank out a product when you do not have to worry about heavy overhead expenses, or time invested in house cleaning.
3) Saigon is Incredibly Young
With seventy percent of the country’s population under 30 years old, there are plenty of youngsters ready to soak up the startup dream. The culture is fast-paced and energetic, with an open mindset ready to embrace. This youthful energy has not only revolutionized Vietnam’s economy and made it a prime investment destination, but it has spurred a innovation blitzkrieg as well.
Furthermore, the lack of the large undergraduate-to-corporate culture prevalent in the U.S. means college superstars who would have gone on to work for big banks and consulting firms have instead chosen to work on passion projects.
You can find talent here easily and affordably, and the vibe has drawn plenty of expat entrepreneurs as well. Saigon is an incredible startup city place to there are plenty of others who share similar ambitions and are willing to cheer you on. Being in a place where so many other people anything is possible makes you believe it as well.