South Korea’s largest accelerator program for foreign startups, K-Startup Grand Challenge (KSGC)has rolled out the carpet for its 2022 edition. Global startups are invited to the 3.5-month all-paid residency program that can be an entry point for the Asian market. KSGC is hosted by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups (MSS) and organized by the National IT Industry Promotion Agency (NIPA).
The startup accelerator program, launched in 2016, supports foreign startups that want to enter the Korean market and further explore the international markets. Over the years, the program has supported startups and businesses from multiple fields like Artificial Intelligence, fintech, logistics, biotechnology, robotics, game development, IoT, e-commerce, etc.
In the last six years of the KSGC program, many startups have successfully established their businesses in Korea and Southeast Asia. The 3.5-month program supports startups financially and gives them multiple opportunities to network with top tech companies, VCs, mentors, etc. Startups working in the tech industry can look forward to a wider market and expand to Asia. Besides the 3.5-month support, the top startup teams can also look forward to getting further assistance to expand to Asia and investment from prominent VCs.
Teknobuilt, a UK-Canada-based startup with innovative technologies in digital program management, construction workflow automation, and SaaS platform services for AI-based project delivery, participated in KSGC 2020. Teknobuilt got an overwhelming response from participation in KSGC 2020.
Teknobuilt has been named as a Top 15 innovative company in the K-Startup Grand Challenge 2020 amongst 2648 participants across 118 countries globally.
We would like to thank NIPA and the Ministry of SMEs and Start Ups for organising and pulling off this amazing event.#Kstartup pic.twitter.com/WbG8G9wA3x
— Teknobuilt (@teknobuilt) December 4, 2020
The startup signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with major Korean car manufacturer Daewoo E&C for collaborative work projects. Yogishi Chandra, CEO of Teknobuilt, said, “Even in an environment with a different language or business culture, we could participate in the K-Startup Grand Challenge, hold business meetings with domestic companies, and promote business smoothly through Korean interns.” “The program played a decisive role in concluding this contract,” said Tanvi Garg, head of the Korean branch, about MoU with Daewoo E&C.
In 2021, KSGC saw an overwhelming response with 2,568 applications from 129 countries, with 54 startup teams finally selected to participate. The top 10 teams got monetary awards worth $10,000 to $120,000 on the demo day of KSGC 2021. Besides, the top 30 teams got $11,136 through a Settlement program. Check out some successful global startups that entered the KSGC 2021 program and their experience.
Khenda, AI, Turkey, First Prize, KSGC 2021
Khenda is a Turkish startup that operates an AI-based video analytics platform that helps manufacturing plants to increase their efficiency at production lines by analyzing manual activities. Khenda won the top prize for its technology in KSGC 2021. The accelerator program’s positive support system helped the startup expand its business in Asia.
During KSGC 2021, Khenda got introduced to prominent Korean businessman Dong Hoon Shin, who eventually joined the company’s advisory board. “As Khenda, we expanded our operations by making great progress during these 3.5 months when we opened up to the Asian market and increased our business activities.” said Aykan Ekici, co-founder of Khenda. “Manufacturing in Asia is huge. South Korea is the best country among the other countries in Asia because there’s no cultural barrier here. Also, we believe that this is the best country to protect our intellectual property. South Korea is good at adapting new technologies earlier. And what we are doing is a really new technology. So that’s why we are here. Khenda has done PoCs with Korean Automotive, Home Appliances, and Textile manufacturers. All PoCs now are in the sales phase. Korean manufacturing companies will use Khenda to increase their efficiency and quality in the manufacturing lines. They are all global companies and this means a lot for entering Asian Market, also helps to gain a reputation in Global Market. KSGC’s free intern service helped to get over with language barrier. Also, Accelerator helped a lot about understanding business culture in Korea,” Ekici said.
Xquant, FinTech, Hong Kong, Second prize KSGC 2021
XQuant is Asia’s leading specialist in using AI to process text documents, extract meanings and perform data analysis. XQuant application TS-Expert is an ultra-high performance trade confirmation reader. It uses cutting-edge NLP and OCR technologies to find all the relevant fields and values inside the document. Instead of 20 minutes of manual work to process one document, with TS-Expert, it takes only 5 seconds. “The KSGC program provides you with the connections that will help you build your company and develop a strong network in Korea,” said Chea Srun, CEO of XQuant. “The mentoring program and all the advice we received from the accelerator and from all the partners we were introduced to have been very useful to us. Practicing my speech for the IR, how to make a good document, and so on. So, I’ve learned a lot through this program.” Srun said. While being part of KSGC 2021, XQuant signed an MoU with Yonsei University’s Graduate School of Environmental Finance for research on green digital finance and mutual information sharing. Yonsei University is a prestigious academic and research institution based in Seoul.
Glowsome Beauty, mobile beauty app, marketplace, Colombia, KSGC 2021
This startup provides a new skincare experience for Latin America. It operates an e-commerce service to promote clean beauty products to Latin America, especially Colombia. Glowsome Beauty runs a mobile platform to provide personalized skincare routine recommendations to customers and has a wholesale business model working with partner countries in LATAM. Shirley Vega, the founder of Glowsome Beauty, said, “It was like a dream for us to participate in KSGC because it’s not only the best program in the country but also has a lot of benefits. One of them is access to mentors and great networking. We were able to expand our business and meet partners in a way we couldn’t have done without being under the umbrella of this program. Another benefit was the free office space and the other facilities, like meeting rooms. And we got great discounts at the gym and cafeteria, as well. It made it really affordable for us.”
Founders Lair, AI, Big Data, China
Founders Lair helps founders to find the resources they need by digitizing and distributing the startup sourcing process through local experts. “Our experience with KSGC has been critical for our expansion in South Korea. They’ve helped us open bank accounts, get visas, incorporate our company, and ultimately find clients. One of the most important benefits was our accelerator, CNT Tech. Through their introductions, we found quite a few of our first clients in Korea, validating our product market fit here. Secondly, none of this would have been possible without Soobin, our intern with KSGC,” said Fabien Martin, Co-founder, of Founders Lair. Soobin Choi, who worked as an intern for Founders Lair during KSGC 2021 helped the startup in connecting with the Korean market and has now been hired as their business development head in Korea
ProSpace, IoT, Big Data, Singapore
Digital workplace platform ‘ProSpace’ was one of the top 30 teams at the KSGC 2021. Founded in Singapore in 2015, Prospace provides efficient and strategic work environment solutions using IoT and digital technologies. After signing an MOU with the shared office platform ‘FASTFIVE’, the startup entered the Korean market. CEO Steve Ong said, “Korea is the most economically developed country in Asia, and companies are positive and active in introducing new technologies.”
Pluto VR, VR/AR/MR, USA
Consumers can install and play their desired VR software by connecting to Pluto VR. PLUTO VR is a service that supports high-end programs and software to be played by connecting to a high-end XR PC even on power-hungry devices. Pluto VR’s product being launched in Korea, PlutoSphere is a cloud computing service that allows one to connect to a high-end XR PC from an underpowered device. In Korea, Pluto Sphere technology is provided to 10 major cities including Daejeon and Seoul, and a partnership with SK Telecom has been signed.
K-Startup Grand Challenge 2022 has been accepting applications for its 3.5 month-long all-expenses-paid program from April 15th with last day being May 31st, 2022. This year the program will be held from August 1st to November 15th, 2022, at the Startup Campus in Pangyo Techno Valley near. Sixty startup teams will be selected to participate in the program. For 2022, the top ten performing teams will get monetary grants worth $320,000. Also, the top thirty startups will get further assistance to expand business in Korea.
For further information and the application for K-Startup Grand Challenge, visit the website – https://www.k-startupgc.org/ and check the Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/kstartupgc) and the LinkedIn page (https://www.linkedin.com/company/kstartupgc) for more information and further updates.