K-ICT Born2Global, a start-up accelerating center affiliated with the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, announced on Feb. 25 that it will host “European Investor Invitation Seminar” at ZAG POT in Samsung-dong, Seoul on March 9.
According to the center, this seminar is designed to discover and nurture top startups, which are ready to push into the European markets. It will invite foreign investors and successful entrepreneurs to the seminar to provide startups with opportunities to evaluate their profitability and chances of global market expansion and help them attract investment and develop sales outlets by establishing networks with foreign experts.
Riku Asikainen, the current head coach of Startup Sauna and one of prominent angel investors in Europe, Kasper Suomalainen, COO of Startup Sauna, Otta Hilska, CEO of Smartly.io, and Moaffack Ahmed, funding partner of Superhero Capital, will be participated in the seminar as guest speakers.
On Feb. 10, the second day of the seminar, a pitching audition will be held to select participants in Startup Sauna’s accelerator program. At the audition, top three out of 15 companies, which passed the document screening, will be chosen through a pitch.
The final three firms will be exempt from the initial screening for Startup Sauna’s accelerator program and the finalist will be offered an opportunity to take part in Born2Global’s Demo Day in Europe.
Six European and Korean investors will do a screening. In addition, European investors will provide participating companies with one-on-one coaching and mentoring services and group pitching workshops.
K-ICT Born2Global, a start-up accelerating center sponsored by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, announced that its member company “DoubleH” attracted “Global Star Fund for New Growth Engines” from L&S Venture Capital on May 12.
DoubleH developed a smart wearable diet belt “LumiDiet” using light therapy technology. The company claims that the device helps break down abdominal fat and reduce abdominal obesity.
DoubleH CEO Lee Kyung-han said, “I think the company was able to attract investment since the device with trendy design can help consumers lose fat easily and effectively as they are always concerned about weight gain. We are planning to accelerate business expansion to global markets, including the U.S., Europe and Southeast Asia, in the future.”
All of “Super Early Bird” from DoubleH were sold out within three days after its release at Indiegogo, the global crowdfunding platform, last month, making a successful debut in the crowdfunding market.
Meanwhile, Born2Global Center is running the K-Global Startup Hub at the startup campus in Pangyo, Gyeonggi Province. Since March, it has been fostering 46 companies which were selected based on the evaluation of business value, technology and organizational competency.
K-ICT Born 2 Global Center President Kim Jong gap said, “As all of our member companies’ efforts are combined with steady support from the center, we are seeing them make good results, including DoubleH. We will fully support a full cycle service from providing space to mentoring to startups who seek to expand their businesses to global markets so they can run businesses more stably.”
Pangyo, the South Korean Silicon Valley, is emerging as one of the most fascinating startup hubs in Asia to connect next information communications technology (ICT) stars to the global market.
The Korean government is preparing for establishment of an over 582,000 square feet startup campus in Pangyo, Gyeonggi Province in order to nurture domestic startups and venture companies by providing them with a stable business space where venture capitalists (VCs), angels, accelerators and supporting institutions can conveniently exchange ideas.
The Born2Global Center is the main agency under the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning to implement the goal above through converging different industrial sectors mostly with information and communications technologies to generate new business opportunities and foster the growth of startups at K-GlobalStartupHub@StartupCampus.
More than 60 startups with global entry potential have been selected by the Born2Global, global VCs and accelerators.
The startups are offered facilities such as office rooms, meeting rooms, conference rooms and co-working spaces in addition to benefits exclusively provided by the Born2Global. Furthermore, opportunities are provided for them to be involved in a wide range of businesses developments, including training, working at practical jobs, and participation in conferences, seminars and business meetings.
The Born2Global provides opportunities for the startups to present their business models to key investors and potential business partners to raise funding and level up their businesses. Moreover, The Born2Global helps startups build strategic alliances with investors and business partners at home and abroad. In effect, such an alliance has been making investment attraction chances and get evaluations of startups’ potential for a success in the global market.
The Born2Global selects startups with global entry potential and provides them with membership services. The startup center has supported more than 100 startups every year, providing them with one-on-one consulting services fit for global market entry from expert groups including lawyers, patent attorneys, accountants, labor attorneys, investment specialists, business development and marketing experts. In-house experts also provide customized one-on-one consulting services that focus on helping startups to reach global markets beyond the traditional mentoring of corporate management tactics.
Founded in September 2013, the Born2Global has become a strong base for successful investment attraction for local startups and succeeded in attracting over US$ 133.2 million for 62 startups.
In addition, Born2Global’s experts have conducted 4,537 consulting services to 2,921 startups, including 358 overseas patent applications, 198 overseas business contracts and alliances, and 26 overseas incorporations.
Startups supported by the Born2Global are already paying off. ASD Korea is one of the examples. Established in 2013 and attracted an initial investment of 1.1 billion won, ASD Korea has helped enterprises and service providers extend their own ecosystem with “Cloud for Business” service, posting 1.6 billion won in sales in 2014. The Born2Global provided legal, accounting, and marketing services, and secured a spot in the B2G Global Connect Overseas Demo Day in Silicon Valley and New York, helping the startup draw the funding.
Another startup SmartStudy has attracted a total of US$10.8 million from the global venture capitalists like NXC, IBK Capital, and KDB Capital. With legal, accounting, and marketing supports, SmartStudy launched a series of 170 apps and has accumulated over 85 million global downloads with monthly 8.8 million active users. Their flagship app, PINKFONG Best Kids Songs and Stories, has been the top-grossing education app in 98 countries, and the YouTube channel brings in about 1.5 million daily views.
Lastly, Stratio, a Short-Wave Infrared (SWIF) image sensor developer, has received a Phase 2 SBIR grant of US$750,000 from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) for its innovative technology. The Born2Global provided legal, accounting, marketing services while providing opportunities for Straio to participate in a global Demo Day.
“We believe that startups be able to become independent in near future through development of their own unique business models that can compete with those of global companies,” Kim Jong-kap, Chief Executive Director of Born2Global.
Dr. Kim Jong-gap, who has helped South Korean small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and venture firms make inroads into global markets in the Silicon Valley for the past 20 years, was appointed as the head of the K-ICT Born2Global Center in September last year. His past career includes a director of the iPark Silicon Valley under the former Ministry of Information &Communication that assisted in the business of South Korean venture firms and SMEs in the United States, the head of the Electronics &Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) USA R&D Center and a representative director of Macrovia Partners, a startup incubator located in the Silicon Valley. He has helped no less than 500 South Korean venture firms to expand their business abroad so far.
“What matters the most for the overseas business of South Korean venture firms and SMEs to become successful is to think in the local way as well as the acquisition of local languages and cultures,” he stressed based on his own experience, adding, “Then, they will be able to develop and provide services that suit the needs of local customers, and also important is to have a good grip on market demands.”
With regard to the name of the Born2Global Center, which is pretty distinctive, he said that the name is to aim for the concept of born global, that is, targeting global markets from the get-go instead of penetrating overseas markets after growing in the domestic market. “Another implication of the name is to turn South Korea into the center of the global market,” he mentioned.
Enterprise diagnosis reports are one of the parts the K-ICT Born2Global Center is currently concentrating on the most in order to assist in the overseas expansion of promising startups. The reports are to analyze startups in terms of legal, patent, accounting, technological strength, marketability, MRD aspects and so on in determining which to help. Expert groups consisting of lawyers, patent attorneys, accountants and the like check details of consulting for each startup and manage the content, schedule and progress of their assistance.
The K-ICT Born2Global Center has brought in a new program by the name of Go-to-Market Roadshow, too. The purpose of the program is to organize one-on-one business meetings between startups and local investors and accelerators reflecting IR demands on an ongoing basis. In other words, it is an intensive support for an occasion comparable to demo day events.
The head of the K-ICT Born2Global Center also explained that it started public relations (PR) services this year and will provide the around-the-clock services based on an increasing level of foreign media exposure. “South Korean startups’ performance was relatively poorer than those of their U.S., Chinese and Singaporean counterparts at the Global Startup Conference 2016 Spring recently held at the COEX Convention Center and this was because of the lack of PR,” he continued to say, “Their advanced and excellent technological and service models were underestimated and failed to be publicized to a sufficient extent as the South Korean startups could not blend in due to the lack of their linguistic and cultural capabilities and this is why we are trying to help them in PR and networking by means of our public relations services.”
According to him, the competitive edge of the Silicon Valley, which is a role model for a large number of startups in South Korea, lies in its robust ecosystem above anything else. “Wide spaces are open and abundant funds are available for startups there and more than 90 unicorns are continuing to enrich the ecosystem while boosting a virtuous cycle,” he explained, continuing, “I believe that such a virtuous cycle should be created in South Korea as well, led by firms successfully growing based on collaborations, and the presence of 10 or so unicorns in the country will be enough for the venture and startup ecosystem of South Korea to become mature to the point of many other countries trying to take a leaf from it in the near future.”
Twenty years ago, South Korea pulled out of the Asian Financial Crisis in only three years—and its economy has been thriving ever since.
With that same drive, South Korea has begun to position itself as the Asian startup hub, with the express intention of not only boosting the economy, but of sparking the interest of global venture capitalists.
And to back up their claim and prove their chops, they’ve made a massive investment in a project its Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning hopes will create a “South Korean Silicon Valley.”
High global growth potential
As part of the drive to create the Korean Silicon Valley, the Korean Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning established the Born2Global center to nurture early-stage startups with exceptional ideas or products and connect them to venture capital companies.
“We strive to introduce startups with low recognition but high global growth potential to the world,” said Chief Executive Director Jong Kap Kim.
To that end, Born2Global provides support in a variety of ways, including law and patent counseling, accounting, mentoring, marketing support, and global expansion, as well as conventional R&D support, plus below-market rent and opportunities to interface with other startups to foster a community of innovation—what President Park Geun-hye calls the “creative economy.”
Born2Global has been particularly focused on attracting global VCs by nurturing best-in-show companies with support from Korean VCs, angel investors, and accelerators.
Programs like the overseas Demo Days leverage the extensive network of Born2Global, and let startups lay the foundation for global growth by actively building strategic world-wide alliances in the cities they visit.
And, Jong Kap Kim notes, “If global investors settle at the Pangyo Global Startup Campus in Korea, they have a pass to the government-guaranteed startups all in one place.”
Small startups supported by the creative economy are already showing big results.
ASD Korea, which enables enterprises and service providers to extend their own ecosystem with their “Cloud for Business” service, was established in 2013. After obtaining an original investment of 1.1 billion (KRW), ASD Korea posted $1.6 billion (KRW) in sales in 2014.
Born2Global provided law, accounting, and marketing services, as well as secured the company a spot in the B2G Global Connect Overseas Demo Day in Silicon Valley and New York, helping to draw the funding the company needed to show profits within a year.
SmartStudy, another startup, has attracted a total of $10.8 million US dollars in global venture capital investment from NXC, IBK Capital, and KDB Capital.
With law, accounting, and marketing support, SmartStudy launched a series of 170 apps that have accumulated over 85 million global downloads and 8.8 million monthly active users. Their flagship app, PINKFONG Best Kids Songs and Stories, has been the top-grossing education app in 98 countries, and their YouTube channel brings in about 1.5 million daily views.
Local support, global reach
Born2Global reports that Korea’s top 60 startups are located in the Pangyo Startup Campus. Spaces are open to any individual or company wanting to start a business.
“It’s a win-win situation for all involved, including the large companies operating in the centers,” says Jong Kap Kim. Big firms working at the centers link startups to their large, pre-established networks. In return, the large companies benefit by collaborating with startups and enhancing their supply chain by outsourcing some of their business to smaller firms.
Of particular interest to global venture capitalists is the ease with which the rapidly-growing number of startups can expand overseas through networks set up with foreign accelerators and Korea Innovation Centers branches abroad.
In the end, that’s the most profound promise of the Korean Silicon Valley to the world: offering global venture capitalists the opportunity to sit down to a banquet of investment opportunities.
The initial capital needed to start a tech venture in Korea is estimated at about 70.5 million won ($57,500) on average, with the most coveted area being mobile apps, a recent survey found Tuesday. Born2Global, a start-up accelerating center affiliated with the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, recently conducted a survey of 707 Korean start-ups established over the past seven years.The highest number of respondents, or 29 percent, said it took 50 to 100 million won to start their business. Mobile apps were the most popular area with 200 companies, followed by the Internet of Things and wearables (9.1 percent), and big data (6.9 percent).Based on the survey, a typical start-up entrepreneur here is male (81.7 percent), a 30-something (45.6 percent), a college graduate (85.5 percent), and an engineering major (69.2 percent). The average business period was 3.28 years. Almost 60 percent of the companies were based in Seoul. More than 50 percent said they suffered financial problems in the first one to three years. Their most favored overseas destination was the U.S., with 299 companies entering the market. China came in second with 259 companies. The two countries were also the most lucrative markets for the companies. They said technology and product quality were the most important factors for success, followed by pricing, management, design, brand awareness and geographical advantage. They also cited marketing as their weakest point, saying they need marketing and promotional support when they enter overseas markets.