The Year of the Korean Startup is 2015

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2015 looks to be a huge year for the new wave of Korean startups. Here are several of the reasons why.

Founders with global ambition

Young entrepreneurs in Korea are founding Asia’s most dynamic startups. In the past, many young Korean innovators who earned advanced degrees outside of Korea came back home to pursue careers with conglomerates like Samsung, LG, and Hyundai. The recent trend, however, sees more young entrepreneurs taking risks to start companies of their own with global ambitions. These entrepreneurs team up with local talent and march forward to build things for the global market.

National infrastructure highly conducive to startups

South Korea ranked first in Bloomberg’s Global Innovation Index. The country has the highest broadband penetration in the world at 97 percent and is a leader in broadband speed with an average peak connection of close to 50 megabits per second.

Better investment environment

In Korea in years past, Korean investors weren’t willing to invest in startups or they wanted collateral from the companies in exchange for their investment. But going into 2015, more local VCs and angel investors are looking to take on risk and are actively hunting for promising startups. Local accelerators offer attractive packages that include capital, mentoring, and networking that startups need to expand to global markets.

More attention from big players

Korean startups are getting more attention from Silicon Valley giants. Next year, Google is opening a 20,000-square-foot startup center in Gangnam to nurture domestic startups and give them mentorship and global exposure.

Recent major funding news demonstrates Korean startups’ increasing profile among global investors. Coupang, one of the country’s top startups, has received $100 million in an investment capital round led by Sequoia. Seoul-based startup Woowa Brothers, which operates the food delivery app Baedal Minjok, has raised $36 million led by Goldman Sachs. Hard-working Korean startups will not stop their effort to deliver impressive funding news to us.

Global presence

Korean startups gradually realized that Silicon Valley investors are interested in local startups and hesitate to invest in startups outside the US. In order to free Silicon Valley investors of their worries, more startups are establishing a physical presence not only in Silicon Valley but also around the world.

Government support

The South Korean government, eager to help nurture an economy that relies less on its conglomerates, has begun to invest in the startups in the future. Korean startups are getting more help from government programs that match private investments with public grants.

In 2013, Korea launched the new Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning under the slogan of “Creative Economy”. In 2014, the ministry’s budget increased to over $12 billion. Over two billion of this budget went directly into fostering growth for the startup ecosystem. Since that, the tides are shifting rapidly to promote entrepreneurship. The Korean government’s immense support of startups through venture capital infusion, as well as the tireless efforts of many organizations and individuals in startup ecosystem, has led to a startup boom that I believe will continue into the future.

Gangnam Style

Lastly, Gangnam is more than Psy’s playground – it is also a bustling geography for tech startups. Venture capitalists from Silicon Valley and Japan are opening offices in the area to find promising Korean startups to invest in. Silicon Valley is not the only place that you can find startup networking events or education programs; Gangnam is now competing with Silicon Valley as a core startup hub with diversity, rich culture, and tech geeks. Additionally, many of Gangnam’s startups and venture capitalists are located along Teheran Road in Gangnam increasingly referred to as Asia’s Silicon Valley.

startup support ecosys
Source : Startup Alliances Korea

It’s the right time for Korea to prepare for a post-Samsung economy, one that may come earlier than expected. 2015 looks to be the year that Korea moves beyond an economy dominated by conglomerates and starts build a thriving startup ecosystem.

Will Korea be the world’s new startup powerhouse? I believe we will find out in 2015.

글 : 노영희
원문 : http://goo.gl/WFP9of

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/ youngheenoh@goglobalconsulting.com

노영희 GoGlobal Consulting 대표는 현재 실리콘벨리 심장부인 팔로알토에서 GoGlobal Consulting을 운영하면서 실리콘벨리의 대표 스타트업과 한국 스타트업의 글로벌 진출과 파트너쉽을 전문으로 컨설팅하고 있다. 한국의 유망 스타트업들의 엔젤투자가와 멘토 이자 KOTRA Silicon Valley의 고문으로서 한국 스타트업들이 실리콘벨리 진출하는데 가교 역할을 하고 있다. 스타트업의 글로벌 진출 전문가로서 실리콘벨리에 다양한 네트워크를 보유하고 있고 스타트업 교육 프로그램의 일환으로 창업자에게 1:1 멘토링을 제공하고 있다. 실전 경험을 바탕으로 한국과 미국 미디어에 활발한 기고를 통하여 한국스타트업에게 유용한 정보를 공유하는데 앞장 서고 있다. GoGlobal Consulting 창업 전에는 세계 최대의 Globalization 전문 업체인 Lionbridge Technologies 한국 지사장을 역임하였으며 재직시 한국의 대표기업 (삼성, LG, 엔씨소프트, 넥슨 등) 의 글로벌 진출에 기여하였다. LinkedIn Profile : www.linkedin.com/in/younghee/

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