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IDG’s capital gives PeaceSoft and iSphere a fresh outlook

Things have been cer-tainly looking up for PeaceSoft and iSphere Software since IDG Ventures Vietnam recently announced its intention of investing in the two software companies.

Not just the money

Like other young businesses, iSphere and PeaceSoft were a bit short of the capital needed to grow and the expertise needed to gain orders from abroad, but not any more.

Foreign-owned iSphere says it will spend IDG’s money on equipment, brand-building, and of course research and development, and fully expects IDG’s involvement to make it more competitive.

‘The investment of IDG Ventures Vietnam improves the company’s chances of success,’ says iSphere general director Jin Lim.

‘IDG’s vast network, resources, experience and understanding of the global markets help growing companies like iSphere Software to overcome challenges in the highly demanding information technology business.’

At PeaceSoft, IDG Ventures Vietnam is now a major shareholder but does not intervene in the day-to-day running of its partner’s business, preferring to limit itself to an advisory role.

‘It’s a fair and reasonable arrangement, and one that should have a positive impact on us,’ PeaceSoft general director Nguyen Hoa Binh told the Daily.

Back in high school, Binh made quite a name for himself by coming up with original ideas. One of these he began to commercialize four years ago at the age of 20 but, he says, success could not come with only a good idea but no capital, experience, professional network or knowledge of business administration.

Most young businesses lack these, and some turn to the venture capitalists as their way out. In the event, the risk is shared and of course any profit the company might make.

‘We hope that the capital, name and experience of IDG will help PeaceSoft deal with its current problems and allow us to develop strongly,’ says Binh. Planning ahead

Any investment fund deliberates carefully before deciding whether to invest in an existing business or not. If yes, the subsequent demands by the venture capitalists might be too much for the targeted business, whose own demands and conditions might be deemed unacceptable. A cozy arrangement can be hard to come by.

Nguyen Bao Hoang, the general director of IDG Ventures Vietnam, admits that the arrangement is favorable to IDG, but the decision to invest was only made after much careful thought about PeaceSoft’s ‘prosperity of ideas and products, and its management.’

Hoang reckons IDG is not only in it for the profits but genuinely wants to nurture budding business ventures. His criteria for investing in a business are strong feasibility, capable management, good sales and sound technical staff. With PeaceSoft and iSphere, IDG was also impressed by their ‘business plans of great potential for development’.

Jin Lim, an American of South Korean descent who put his own money into iSphere last June, says the company employs over 35 engineers ‘specializing in IT services and enterprise solutions for the manufacturing industry,’ to repeat some of the publicity verbiage.

Its markets are Vietnam and Korea but now the first steps are being taken to add the United States and other countries, he says, and adds that iSphere is closely involved with ‘well-respected companies’ like Vietnam Auditing Co. (Vaco) and Deashin Networks Corporation.

The emphasis in Vietnam is on generating government and manufacturing business through ‘customs application development, enterprise application solutions, web applications, e-commerce platforms and information management systems,’ to quote more spiel.

‘We also provide these services and products in Korea plus the Offshore Development Center (ODC) model, from which customers benefit dedicated infrastructure and managed engineering team,’ says Jin Lim.

Back to PeaceSoft, where the 32 people on the payroll have designed E4Portal, an electronic information gate that is being used by several

State agencies, schools and companies. And its E4Meeting television-conferencing-over-the-Internet is arousing the interest of the corporate community.

Relying on IDG’s infusion, PeaceSoft aims to double its business through current and new products and more marketing, partly through the website it is building at www.chodientu.com.