The past two years have seen a huge increase in the number startups appearing in South Korea and just recently Yonhap reported that the number of business startups was already on the rise this year with a total of 6938. The explosion of smartphones since the iPhone appeared in late 2010 led to a wave of startups focused on developing various mobile services, apps and games. While startup media and news sites published various articles about startups, there was still no ideal place to find a list of startups like Crunchbase or YouNoodle in the US.
As 2012 came to a close, this changed when a number of sites suddenly sprung up almost simultaneously, all listing information about Korean startups and some offering options such as online funding and being able to post ads to recruit talent. Today we’ll take a brief look at four websites leading in this area — OpenTrade, Demoday, RocketPunch and Venster.
OpenTrade is primarily a crowd funding platform designed for angel investors, startups and entrepreneurs. The site offers slightly more intricate details about startups than other database websites, which is probably the main reason why users need to sign up before they can view company information on the site. Companies upload their business model, team, financial information, special characteristics and any intellectual property to create a comprehensive profile for potential investors. A list of milestones also lets users know the progress of companies in an easy to view format.
Another one of Open Trade’s main purposes is to establish communication between startups and investors. As well updating company information and milestones, companies have a feed which they update with text or images. Like other social networks, users can like and comment on any updates. These features give startups that are constantly working hard, a chance to show their progress, and investors can keep in contact more easily with companies. Open Trade is better suited to early stage companies looking for funding long-term rather than companies in need of quick capital.
Demo Day is another service which has been catching the eye of startups. While the name may seem familiar and conjure up images of pitching in front of a group VCs, the site is actually a startup portal which aims to offer a hub where companies can introduce their company and put up notices to recruit for new talent. The service began in December last year and the number of startups registered on the site has already grown from just 40 to 1200.
One of the highlights of Demo Day is the weekly and monthly ranking of startups updated on the site. Users can choose which startups they like and leave messages of support which then boosts their profile. The site has also added a crowd funding platform where startups can freely pitch their company or idea and request investment. Apart from this, promotions and news related to startups are also regularly uploaded to the site. Of all the sites, Demo Day’s services are the most comprehensive and it will be interesting to see whether the service will focus more on one area in the future.
Launched at the start of the new year, RocketPunch is a database for Korean startups which can be edited by anyone ”Wikipedia style”. The service is run by startup Pristones and hopes to help put lesser known startups in the limelight, the general media usually focusing on fast-growing and profit earning companies.
GetROCKET is a recruiting plaform that is part of the service, and companies are able to upload job positions as well as information about their company. With an API on offer, company profiles can be easily embedded into pages for those that need it. Pristones says it made the service because it was “desperately needed”. While developing and launching one of its new services, it needed a place to systematically store information and decided to create a ‘Wikipedia for Startups’.
RocketPunch recently released its new map service which shows the locations of startups not just in Seoul, but the rest of Korea. Startups are also tagged so users can easily search by category. The map does a great job of showing which areas in Seoul are popular for startups, with a large number in central Gangnam, Apgujeong, Hongdae and Guro.
Venster was the first service to launch and is primarily focused on helping startups find the talent they are looking for, and to also help job seekers find the right company for themselves CEO Beomseom Kim was originally part of Fast Track Asia as a developer and during his time there saw companies struggling to find developers. At the time there were no other sites with detailed information for venture recruiting and so Kim took things into his own hands.
Companies can register themselves on the site for free and Venster has made partnerships with developer communities “OKJSP” and “JAVA” to further help searching out the talent that they need. Profiles not only include recruiting information, but detailed profiles of companies including related news links and team members. The site also has partnerships with OpenTrade and recently helped support VentureSquare’s Open Recruiting Day event.