[Weekly VentureSquare Stories] – ‘Making Study Fun’

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Weekly VentureSquare Stories are summaries of some of the week’s top posts relating to the Korean startup and venture Industry.

Smartstudy – Making Study Fun
사용자 삽입 이미지Smartstudy started from the premise that ‘basic study cannot be done in a fun way’. They started by accepting the idea the study is developing oneself and this process can be a very tiresome one. Smartstudy’s three founders all have the common history of working in a game company ten years ago. The years of experience working in a game company provided a good background to develop an educational app. “We wanted to take the elements which made games successful and apply them to education. To make study fun is nearly impossible but through the satisfaction of receiving some type of reward while studying, I think it is possible.” Using their skills and experience from working at Korea’s biggest gaming company, they plan to make their app more comprehensive than others. They are not only planning on online apps but also apps which use offline content. “Our goal is to become the ‘Netflix’ for education.”

Naver Matome in Crisis due to Yahoo Japan?
사용자 삽입 이미지There is a new rival to go up against Naver Japan’s most recent entry into the Japanese market, ‘Naver Matome’. On September 28, Yahoo Japan revealed ‘Kukuru’, a service which aggregates a range of websites, images, videos and information according to the users interests that they have pre-selected. The service appears to be exactly the same as Naver Matome’s service. Naver Matome has been redeveloped several times since the site opened into what it is today and in August recorded 8,090,000 visitors. With 90% of users in Japan using Yahoo Japan, it would seem that Yahoo have the upper hand but Naver’s advertising system which offers returns to users may be reason enough for some users to change the service they use.

Will Samsung be able to make a Comeback?
사용자 삽입 이미지The patent wars between Samsung Electronics and Apple continue to appear throughout the media. Samsung is putting pressure on Apple regarding telecommunications patents while Apple accuses Samsung of using Apple’s designs. Interestingly enough, Apple have been a lot more aggressive since Steve Jobs stepped down from his former position of CEO and they appear to be doing well. After the failure of 3D displays with LG, Samsung needs to establish a new platform for in order to recover. If Samsung stick to the same road they are on now, they may find themselves overtaken by Chinese companies the same way Sony was overtaken by Samsung 10 years ago.

Policies to Rebuild Venture
As the venture bubble starts to fade and certain incidents came to light, at first the government did not show any particular interest in fostering ventures. But from fall 2004 the Venture Association met with various parties, NGOs, government departments and committees to convince them why they should support ventures. With a long period of domestic slumps and unemployment problems there were many pressing issues. In the end the government admitted the need to foster ventures in order to develop the economy and create jobs. In December 2004 the government announced a financial and tax support plan for venture growth and in June 2005 a supplement measure for venture revitalization. Ventures which fell victim to certain policies in 2002 started to gain strength again. The less than 8000 ventures which were reduced these policies rose to 12,000 by 2006. (In 2011 there are currently over 25,000) This is proof that the measures that were put in place helped revive the venture ecosystem. However due to stock options, recorded KOSDAQ loss, venture certifications and angel investment being at the core of reviving ventures, due to the memories from the collapse of the I.T bubble and the impact it had, policymakers have not been accommodating. This is a problem that needs to be solved in the future for “Ventures 2.0”.

Startup Forum 2011 – Keynote Speech “Why Startups?” – Han Kim
Han Kim asked the question ‘Why Startups?’ in his keynote speech and talked about ‘Why Start Now / When To Raise / How to Pitch / What We Look For

Why Start Now? – Now is a time where one can create a service across a platform for all to experience.
When to Raise – At the start of a company, they will experiment in many different ways but when the company gets a rough idea of how to go about growing their business it is a good time to invest. When an upcoming company is unsure of why they need investment then the company can actually do better by not receiving any in the first place.
How to Pitch – Rather than the history of the company you need to explain; ‘Why big?’. ‘Why now?’ and ‘Why you?’

What We Look For
1. Team – What type of person, motives and experience one has.
2. Market – How big the opportunity is, what the timing is like, ability to read the market.
3. Traction – Consumers’ reactions after the idea stage.
In the end, the investment decision depends on these three factors.

Social Media’s Effect and Success Rate
On October 23 around 70 people attended the ‘Social Media ROI Seminar’ which was mentioned in previous posts. Professor Lee Jong-hyuk from Kwangwoon University gave a keynote speech about the value of social media and how it leads to goals, Kim Jeong-sun from SK Telecom explained about developer solutions, Hong Young-hak from SK Networks talked about how he used social media to accommodate various concerns at Walker Hill Hotel, Yoon Dae-geun from Burson-Marsteller described his success in using certain platforms and finally, Park Jun-wan from GS Caltex talked about his company’s current digital campaign and choice of key performance indicator.

FabFi Project
In the Afghanistan city of Jalalabad there is a high-speed Internet network made from old parts found among trash. A lot of the network, which is called the FabFi, has been built by engineers from the U.S. Using boards, metal, plastic tube, cans, etc. the FabFi node was made for around $60. FabFi is an open source project run by MIT’s Fab Lab together with the Center for Bits and Atoms and is currently in use in Jalalabad plus three other cities in Kenya. In Afghanistan the system helps employees who work in places like hospitals and other critical infrastructure. While the FabFi project in Afghanistan will not solve the big problems, it can be run independently and make life a little bit better for those living there.

* Upcoming Events for Startups in Korea

Third Coolidge Corner ‘Young Entrepreneurs’ Start Up Launch Competition

Who: Korean Entrepreneurs in their 20s and 30s
Registration: E-mail ccvc1@ccvc.co.kr
Registration Ends: 6pm, November 25
Announcement of Entrants: December 9
Documents: Registration form, business plan, company profile and resume
Contact: 02-2183-2749

Competitors will be judged on 52 different factors incluing business idea, economic skill, business viability and market viability.

Awards for Winning Teams
2nd round finalists: For 16 week Coolidge Corner will offer experts in relevant fields and an incubating program for successful CEOs.
Final Winner: Capital investment and consulting to help maximize and grow the business.
Student Team Prize: A top team of university students will be chosen and awarded 20,000,000won provided by Lee & Jung.

iFramework Entrepreneurship Workshop – Start! Knowing Yourself.

A small workshop for young entrepreneurs to find out who they are and how they can unleash their potential.

Date: 7pm – 9pm Wednesday, October 19
Venue: Rehoboth – Seocho Station, Seocho-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul
Places: Up to 15 people (Pay to ensure your place)
Target: Anyone who is seriously thinking about their future. 
 15,000won (Simple meal included)

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