‘COMEUP’ has become one of the most coveted international events since 2019. It now serves as the leading platform to promote the brilliance of the domestic startup ecosystem and the country’s tech prowess from the ‘Venture Startup Exhibition,’ which mainly was a domestic affair. The 2021 edition of COMEUP is a testament to its success. COMEUP 2021 saw 783 companies from around the world applying to compete for 72 spots.
‘Come Up 2021’ under the theme of Meet the Future – Transformation suggests ways for startups to look at changes in the market environment after the Covid-19 outbreak and prepare for the future. This year the Global Startup Festival witnessed 7,000 pre-registration before the event. On the first day of the event, there were around 15,139 unique visitors, out of which 8,860 were offline visitors and 6,279 were online.
True to its theme, the Fireside chat with its agenda as social looked into the changing aspects of the job market and the future of employment. Experts in the field discussed topics like up-skilling, re-skilling, gender diversity, and newer pastures of career to benefit the startups and investors who have their bets placed in the area of employment.
Connecting the Dots: People and Jobs
Hyeonho Park, CEO of Kmong, moderated the fireside chat. Park started Kmong in 2021 after starting and failing several startups. Now, Kmong is the biggest freelance platform in Korea and is further developing into a Human Cloud Platform.
The panelist for the session was Ingi Kim, CEO of Code States. The company operates IT boot camps that offer cutting-edge curricula and tailored career services for prospective employees in software engineering, data science, AI, blockchain, growth marketing, and product management.
Under the vision of ‘Human Capital’ that invests in people’s potential, Code States introduced Income Sharing Agreement (ISA) in Korea to enable students to get a quality education without up-front funding. With the title of “Baby Unicorn” from the Korean Ministry of SMEs and Startups, 4,000 students are predicted to graduate from Code States’ boot camps and it has grossed 10 billion won in ISA revenue in 2021.
Ingi Kim delved over the shortage of skilled developers and spoke about the various sectors his company is dealing with to re-skill and up-skill technical human resources to meet the industry’s demand. He explained how forward-looking employees are actively seeking innovative courses to land a job that they can sustain for a longer time. Talking from the industries’ perspective, Ingi Kim said that with digitalization happening at a fast pace in almost all wakes of life encompassing industries like e-commerce, fintech, proptech and healthtech to name a few, the demand for a skilled developer has shot up.
He said after the COVID-19 outbreak, flexible work and telecommuting are diversifying, and in another ten to 20 years, it is expected that the working culture of working and receiving rewards will spread and settle throughout the startups.
On Discovering New Markets in Light of Diversity
This fireside chat that looked into gender diversity and the current employment market dealt with the issue of women at the workplace and the need to look for better avenues where female workers can look for jobs. The session was moderated by Bohyun Nam, who is doing impact investment as the CEO of HGI.
The panelist for the session was Na Ree Lee, the founder of ‘Hey Joyce,’ a problem-solving platform for women’s careers. Before this, she led investment and new business development at Cheil Worldwide, a marketing solution company of Samsung. She also created and operated D. CAMP, the first and largest startup ecosystem hub in Korea.
Na Ree Lee emphasized how new avenues are coming up with the advent of the internet to facilitate employment among women. She said that same was not the case eight to nine years back. As a result, when she started Hey Joyce, people were skeptical about her venture. However, her women career acceleration platform has performed well in the past 3.5 years and has trained around 200,000 women for 1,000 different projects.
Lee said that the internet had opened a world of possibilities for new-age entrepreneurs. The success for startups lies in realizing the micro issues that are generally overlooked by businesses and providing solutions to them, which will create new markets and job opportunities. She also spoke about the importance of gender diversity in the field and how it can help a business grow.
Renovating the Social System: Challenges and Conflicts
The panel discussion was on the challenges that modern-day startup faces from the deeply embedded social structure. The panel was moderated by Suryon Park, a journalist since 2005. She leads the Joongang Ilbo FACTPL team that publishes a newsletter three times a week and covers rising businesses and conflicts between innovative startups and social systems.
Among the panelist were Seungil Hong, CEO of Healingpaper and Jaesung Jung, Deputy CEO Law&Company. The esteemed panel discussed the issues faced by a startup from an existing social system and how to navigate them. All the panelists agreed that the legal resolution is a time-consuming affair, and it is not the way a startup should adopt it as, for most startups, time is money. They concluded that the government should be proactive in resolving such issues to promote an ambient environment for the startups to flourish.