Exosystems, an artificial intelligence (AI)-based digital healthcare company and a member of Born2Global Centre, has succeeded in attracting Series A funding worth USD 3.9 million from SBI Investment, Laguna Investment, and Korea Technology Finance Corporation. With the addition of the new investments, the company has now amassed a total of USD 4.5 million in funding.
Exosystems is known for its digital care solution, consisting of a wearable medical device and connected user app, which enables patients undergoing neurorehabilitation or suffering from musculoskeletal disorders to monitor their health and receive appropriate treatment. The wearable sensor analyzes digital biomarkers related to musculoskeletal disorders and, through digital treatment software complete with behavioral intervention components, offers recommendations on exercise program or electrical stimulation therapy.
The technology of Exosystems has been verified through clinical research conducted in cooperation with the Seoul National University Bundang Hospital and other prominent Korean medical institutions. The device and its technologies have also been approved by the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety and the CE-MDD (Medical Devices Directive) in Europe.
Exosystems' technology and growth potential were recently recognized when it was selected by government-funded R&D project worth USD 5 million. The company's digital healthcare device is now covered by public health insurance of Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.
With the latest investments, Exosystems plans to expand clinical & technical capabilities to further develop the company's technology and overseas business.
"Exosystems is a company with both AI software and hardware technology, and it makes products in the digital healthcare field that can be commercialized," said SBI Investment Team Lead Lee Joo-hyuk. He added, "Providing continuous monitoring and treatment outside the hospital is a critical factor in future medical care, and we expect Exosystems to bring about digital innovation not only to musculoskeletal healthcare but to all aspects of people's health and lives."
"Exosystems will be able to secure competitiveness in the overseas markets because of its unique technology that analyzes digital biomarkers and provides behavioral intervention protocol based on scientific evidence," said Exosystems CEO Lee Hoo-man.
EdTech startup CLASSUM has raised a $6M Series A funding round led by Pearl Abyss Capital and Storm Ventures along with existing investors Big Basin Capital and Smilegate Investment.
“CLASSUM understands the core of communication, essential for education, that is missing from today’s LMS’s” says Kyung-yeop Kim, CEO of Pearl Abyss Capital. “Their team has the potential to lead change in the global education market.”
CLASSUM was founded in 2018 by Chaerin Lee and Youjin Choi, two female students at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), to address the challenges they faced as learners. Now used by over 3,700 institutions worldwide, CLASSUM continues to break communication barriers and build learning environments that foster growth and collaboration. Users include institutions such as KAIST, Yonsei University, and Ewha Womans University, as well as global corporations including LG, Samsung Electronics, Shiseido, Hyundai, World Vision, and Prudential.
“We’ve found that the most valuable learning comes from critical thinking and human exchanges that often begin with asking questions, and that’s what we hope CLASSUM will bring to learners and educators around the world,” says co-founder and COO Youjin Choi.
CLASSUM is constantly updating new features, adding and improving support for a variety of course styles based on active feedback from users. Their latest update, new and improved ‘Live Sessions,’ marked the beginning of a new partnership with Zoom, a video-conferencing platform. Later this year, CLASSUM will introduce an intelligent AI assistant that analyzes engagement data accumulated through interactions.
“I’m amazed at CLASSUM’s growth and their users’ enthusiasm,” said Storm Ventures Managing Director Tae Hea Nahm. “I look forward to seeing CLASSUM become a global leader very soon.”
Sky Labs, a global healthcare startup, has closed a 22.5 billion KRW (~$20 million USD) Series B round, which brings its total investments raised to about 34.3 billion KRW (~$30 million USD).
New investors, such as KB Investment, Korea Investment Partners, and LB Investment participated in this round along with prior investors, such as Atinum Investment, Anvil Asset Advisors, and Soo Investment Capital. The involvement of large domestic investors this time around can be attributed to the company’s technological competitiveness and business capabilities.
Sky Labs uses an AI-based cardiac monitoring platform CART-I consisting of a ring-shaped wearable medical device and an accompanying app for the users, as well as a web platform for doctors so that patients with atrial fibrillation can be monitored outside hospital walls. An irregular pulse wave is measured by automatically observing the blood flow in the finger through the PPG optical blood flow measurement sensor. This data is then sent to a cloud storage to detect and analyze atrial fibrillation through AI analysis, and the results are delivered to the user app and the doctors-only web.
The accuracy of atrial fibrillation detection had been certified through simultaneous conduction of product development and clinical research with leading domestic and international medical institutions. With this, they have obtained the Medical Devices Directive CE-MDD Global Product Certification, which is licensed to medical devices in Europe, as well as those approved by the Korean Food and Drug Administration. Sky Labs is the only Korean company to be invited to the European Heart Association (ESC) for the second consecutive year in the digital health sector, having been selected as a Technology Pioneer at the 2019 World Economic Forum and recognized for its technology and competitiveness in the global market.
Through this investment, the company plans to expand global clinical research in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, and the US, as well as to strengthen international marketing in the US and European branches to target overseas healthcare markets. Also, Sky Labs aims to launch various chronic disease monitoring functions, while investing in hiring top personnel.
Sendbird, a Born2Global Centre member since 2016, has closed $100 million in Series C funding led by Steadfast Capital and has moved into the ranks of unicorn startups with a total valuation at $1.05 billion. The messaging and communications solutions startup offers businesses in-app integrations for chat/voice/video and is one of 12 unicorns founded in Korea - and the first in the B2B enterprise software market.
The funding and valuation come amid growing interest in enabling in-app chat, voice, and video messaging functions to facilitate interactions with brands via mobile devices. Increasingly, the presumption is that customers should be able to click to engage in customer service, whether via chat or a voice or video call, and this is where Sendbird’s messaging APIs come in.
As evidenced by the growing demand, Sendbird reported that the number of monthly active users on its platform now exceeds 150 million and the number of applications powered by its messaging APIs has tripled over the past couple years to over 30,000 applications. Its largest U.S. customers include Reddit, Yahoo! Sports, Hinge, Headspace, and ServiceNow, among others.
In its humble beginnings, the messaging API solutions startup began back in 2013 under the name Smile Family with their service “SmileMom”, a community app for mothers as a social networking service. Then in 2015, the business model pivoted to an enterprise-oriented messaging model, and a new application program interface called Talk API debuted in 2016 - the same year they were selected as a member of the Winter 2016 Y Combinator class. In 2017, Sendbird officially started expanding globally through Series A rounds, followed by scaling up through Series B funding, which ended in the successful international patent filings and Series C round this year.
Throughout the stages, Sendbird received expert Born2Global Centre support in various fields, such as law, marketing, public relations (PR), business development, and primarily patent consulting, through which they have been able to achieve trademark applications and overseas tech research trends across 20 countries, including China, Japan, Australia, and Canada.
The Born2Global Centre’s Chief Executive Director Jongkap Kim sits with Sendbird’s Chief Executive Officer Dong Shin “John” Kim in the Centre’s YouTube channel below to capture the many challenges and triumphs of starting - and pivoting - a company from the ground up and opening a new door of opportunities for future unicorns.
This series “The Unicorns” conveys the inner workings and insights behind the growth process of startups starting from the early stage into an international presence, with plans to include more of such companies in the future.
Born2Global Centre’s member startup GSIL, a smart safety specialist, recently attracted 1.5 billion KRW (1.3 million USD) worth of investments from the Korea Credit Guarantee Fund.
GSIL has been an active Born2Global Centre member since 2016 and developed a smart safety system that can ensure the safety of workers in construction or industrial sites.
Through this investment, GSIL was lauded for its successful implementation and operation of smart safety systems at more than 50 public institutions and construction sites of large corporations. Technological capabilities and business growth potential through continuous research and development based on on-site demand also played a major role in getting this investment.
The smart safety system is for an integrated safety management in which Internet of Things (IoT) technology is fused and combined based on the risk matrices. By providing real-time worker safety management, risk assessment, equipment inspection, process management, and work environment factors to safety managers, efficient safety management and emergency relief can be quickly implemented. This technology has been recognized and verified by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and the Ministry of Public Administration and Security.
With this new investment, GSIL plans to focus on providing a more progressive smart safety management system that will lead the advancement of safety management from safety design using smart technology towards construction, data accumulation, and productivity management.
CEO Jung-Woo Lee said, “We will accelerate the development of new smart safety technologies in high-demand areas, such as construction safety, power generation companies, airports, and high-tech plants, as well as increase the future value potential in the smart safety field through system convergence and integration.”
As GSIL plans to become the first mover in the global market in the field of smart safety management, it is working to expand into the US, Kuwait, and Indonesian markets in the near future.
Ringle English Education Service Co., Ltd. (Ringle), a member company of Born2Global Centre, which provides 1:1 video English lessons with native-speaking tutors from prestigious U.S. and U.K. universities, has secured US$8.9 million in investments. The potential of Ringle, which is currently in the process of attracting investments in a Series A round, has been recognized and rewarded by Must Asset Management, which was the lead investor during Ringle's latest round of seed funding. Thanks to this early investment of US$8.9 million, which recognizes the company's corporate value of US$89 million, Ringle will be able to accelerate its progress through what remains of its Series A round of funding.
Ringle is a 1:1 video English tutoring service that provides students with real-time corrections in English on the latest current trends and business issues through lessons with Ivy League tutors. Within the field of English conversation services, Ringle has established a competitive edge through effectively leveraging its 600 tutors from prestigious U.S./UK universities, 300+ high-quality digital textbooks, educational webinars by specialist tutors with expertise in each field, on/offline career seminars on studying abroad & foreign employment, AI-based feedback report, and more.
Must Asset Management supported the decision to invest significantly in Ringle, thanks to the quality and rate of the company's growth to date, which are products of its three core strengths. Firstly, the fact that Ringle has continued to grow more than 300% year-on-year since its establishment in 2015, solely through strong word-of-mouth advertising and student testimonials. What is more, Ringle was able to achieve this growth without relying on collaborations with influencers, handing out "gifts", such as iPads, to students, and large-scale TV advertisements. Secondly, Ringle is a prime candidate for near-future growth, given its rich customer pool of domestic adult English learners and non-English-speaking office workers & higher education students residing in internationally-influential nations, alongside the high number of junior students currently joining the platform. Above all, Must Asset Management believes that Ringle's growth has just begun, given that its current success has been thanks to an elite team of just 25 people, working from its headquarters in South Korea and in the US, in Silicon Valley.
Ringle's Co-CEOs, Seunghun Lee and Sungpah Lee, steadfastly believe that Ringle holds a competitive edge over other Edu-Tech startups that have recently become global education Unicorns in the U.S. and China. Within the Edu-Tech market, success is primarily measured by a company's tutors, content and systems. Ringle has a proven track record in securing the industry best in all three areas. Firstly, it possesses the world's best tutors, who have graduated from the U.S. and UK's top universities. In addition, its teaching materials and content have been created by its most high performing tutors and Stanford, Harvard and Berkeley graduates, which is viewed as highly compelling by its global learners. Above all, Ringle's 1:1 video learning & diagnosis system, developed in collaboration with KAIST's (Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology) HCI (Human Computer Interaction) research team, enables students to immerse themselves in an online classroom environment that proactively enriches their learning experience. Moreover, Ringle's data-based, objective feedback has been proven to promote more effective learning among students. The over 50% repurchase rate of Ringle's 2021 users unambiguously evidences the powerful synergy created by Ringle's tutor, materials, and system.
As of publication, Ringle currently has more than 10,000 paying customers and 600 tutors, and is providing its English education services globally, within South Korea, the U.S., Japan and Europe. Ringle is planning to strengthen its lead within the Edu-Tech market by intensively investing its Series A funding in highly proactive recruiting and service & content development within its U.S. subsidiary, in order to further its advancement of its tutors, content, technology & learning systems. Accordingly, Ringle intends to grow 5 times more year-on-year and surpass Unicorn status to become a Decacorn within 2 to 3 years. Ringle is expanding in all areas: from adults to juniors, from English to other subjects, and beyond Asia into the global market. It aspires to create world-class educational services by drawing upon the knowledge and insights of tutors from the U.S. and UK's top 30 universities. Ultimately, Ringle seeks to create 'a world where non-English speakers can clearly communicate and share their own opinions, without being inhibited by linguistic barriers.'
Ringle is expected to continue its Series A funding until the end of April. Given that discussions on additional follow-up investments from both new and existing investors are currently in progress, it anticipates being able to share further news of investments in the near future.
Launched in South Korea five years ago, content discovery platform Dable now serves a total of six markets in Asia. Now it plans to speed up the pace of its expansion, with six new markets in the region planned for this year, before entering European countries and the United States. Dable announced today that it has raised a $12 million Series C at a valuation of $90 million, led by South Korean venture capital firm SV Investment. Other participants included KB Investment and K2 Investment, as well as returning investor Kakao Ventures, a subsidiary of Kakao Corporation, one of South Korea’s largest internet firms.
Dable (the name is a combination of “data” and “able”) currently serves more than 2,500 media outlets in South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia. It has subsidiaries in Taiwan, which accounts for 70% of its overseas sales, and Indonesia.
The Series C brings Dable’s total funding so far to $20.5 million. So far, the company has taken a gradual approach to international expansion, co-founder and chief executive officer Chaehyun Lee told TechCrunch, first entering one or two markets and then waiting for business there to stabilize. In 2021, however, it plans to use its Series C to speed up the pace of its expansion, launching in Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, mainland China, Australia and Turkey before entering markets in Europe and the United States, too.
The company’s goal is to become the “most utilized personalized recommendation platform in at last 30 countries by 2024.” Lee said it also has plans to transform into a media tech company by launching a content management system (CMS) next year.
Dable currently claims an average annual sales growth rate since founding of more than 50%, and says it reached $27.5 million in sales in 2020, up from 63% the previous year. Each month, it has a total of 540 million unique users and recommends five billion pieces of content, resulting in more than 100 million clicks. Dable also says its average annual sales growth rate since founding is more than 50%, and in that 2020, it reached $27.5 million in sales, up 63% from the previous year.
Before launching Dable, Lee and three other members of its founding team worked at RecoPick, a recommendation engine developer operated by SK Telecom subsidiary SK Planet. For media outlets, Dable offers two big data and machine learning-based products: Dable News to make personalized recommendations of content, including articles, to visitors, and Dable Native Ad, which draws on ad networks including Google, MSN and Kakao.
A third product, called karamel.ai, is an ad-targeting solution for e-commerce platforms that also makes personalized product recommendations.
Dable’s main rivals include Taboola and Outbrain, both of which are headquartered in New York (and recently called off a merger), but also do business in Asian markets, and Tokyo-based Popin, which also serves clients in Japan and Taiwan.
Lee said Dable proves the competitiveness of its products by running A/B tests to compare the performance of competitors against Dable’s recommendations and see which one results in the most clickthroughs. It also does A/B testing to compare the performance of articles picked by editors against ones that were recommended by Dable’s algorithms.
Dable also provides algorithms that allow clients more flexibility in what kind of personalized content they display, which is a selling point as media companies try to recover from the massive drop in ad spending precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, Dable’s Related Articles algorithm is based on content that visitors have already viewed, while its Perused Article algorithm gauges how interested visitors are in certain articles based on metrics like how much time they spent reading them. It also has another algorithm that displays the most viewed articles based on gender and age groups.
Green Labs, an innovative blockchain-based ‘smart farming’ platform, has secured $18 million in Series B funding.
With the funding round led by Hashed, a blockchain focused venture capital firm headquartered out of Seoul and San Francisco, Green Labs has raised $28 million in funding to date.
This is a significant milestone for the agricultural data startup, as it plans to grow its current user base in the farming industry from 20,000 to 100,000.
Green Labs believes that a state of the art agricultural data collection platform is the industry disruptor needed to improve crop production.
Crop Growth Management and Analytics to Enhance Farming Distribution
Started in 2017 within the domestic Korean farming market, Green Labs facilitates increased efficiency in crop production, market development, and distribution using its Farm Morning service.
The agricultural data hub supplies collected market data to all participants, eliminating asymmetric information that can harm farming production and final outputs.
Besides acting as a data aggregation and management platform, Green Labs can also provide optimized crop growth management through its 24/7 controlled farming ecosystem.
Based on analyzed inputs from the Farm Morning service, the environment to enhance overall crop production can be fine tuned and upgraded.
Funding Allows for Increased Innovation
Besides the services already offered by Green Labs, the startup plans to grow and support additional farming based services.
Some of the projects currently being focused on revolve around wholesale price analysis, e-commerce, live commerce, and influencer partnerships.
Green Labs wants to continue to provide as much value as possible to the farming community while making the greater public aware of the new possibilities its platform can enable.
The company aims to grow into a full one-stop shop with the completion of this additional funding round, helping farmers from the production phase to the distribution phase.
The Series B funding will also allow Green Labs to focus on auxiliary investments to grow its platform, such as upgrading the technology of already established smart farms, launching agricultural exchanges, creating an easier way to purchase agricultural materials online, and adding to the direct trade possibilities for agricultural products.
To achieve its ambitious roadmap, Green Labs plans to use a portion of the funding round to recruit fresh talent for the company and to seek potential acquisition opportunities that can strengthen its services and product offerings.
When asked about Green Labs’ future outlook, Sang-hoon Shin, Green Labs’ CEO, commented, “We will lead in innovation to maximize the value added of data generated at agricultural sites through this funding. By recording key data generated by Green Labs’ value chain in blockchain, all participants will be able to build a transparent and reliable agricultural data economy platform.”
The collaboration between Green Labs and Hashed in the Series B round looks to have been a mutually beneficial one. Green Labs gained a world-class fundraising team to work with, and Hashed gained a stake in an innovative startup operating in a fast-growing industry.
Hashed is one of the biggest blockchain venture capital firms globally, having raised over $120 million in capital for its first fund.
Toss Lab, provider of the enterprise collaboration tool JANDI, has raised $13 million in a Series B round, bringing its total fundraising to over $20 million. The round was led by SoftBank Ventures Asia, the venture arm of SoftBank Group.
JANDI is an enterprise team collaboration platform with a suite of productivity tools that include topic-based group chat, file-sharing, task management, video conferencing, and integrations with 3rd party apps. JANDI recently added integration with Zoom, enhanced security controls and an admin dashboard.
JANDI serves over 200,000 customers ranging from small to mid-sized businesses, to large enterprises like LG CNS, Nexen Tire, and Lexus with thousands of employees.
The platform currently support English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese.
JANDI has seen an 80% increase in the number of users acquired during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a time when digital transformation is crucial for companies to sustain operations, real-time communication and workplace collaboration solutions have become essential for ensuring business continuity.
Toss Lab’s short-term goal is to secure more big-name clients so that JANDI is the first collaborative tool that comes to mind among the general public. In the long-term, they have the goal of growing Toss Lab into Asia’s number-one SaaS enterprise.
KASA Korea, a property technology startup, has raised $7.8 million in a pre-series B funding round. The round was led by Korea Development Bank. Northern Light Venture Capital, Kona I Partners, and Kukbo Design also participated in the pre-series B round. With the fresh funds, KASA Korea became to amass over $20 million to date.
KASA Korea’s service is an innovative indirect real estate investment platform that easily permits many users to share the rights to commercial real estate (office buildings, etc.) and be able to just as easily (and safely) buy or sell those rights. A bank or real estate trustee can then issue digitalized asset-backed securities (ABS) with the commercial real estate as collateral, allowing anyone to buy or sell property via KASA’s platform, even for relatively small sums.
Recently, KASA Korea has signed a strategic alliance with Hana Bank, the fifth largest bank in South Korea, which operates a real estate indirect investment platform. KASA Korea was jointly designated as an innovative financial service by the Financial Services Commission with Hana Bank for the 'Digital Real Estate Backed Securities Public Offering and Distribution Service' last year.