Korean startups that are finding success on foreign shores

The Korean startup ecosystem is one of the fastest-growing ones globally. The ample domestic government support and progressive consumer culture have helped startups to thrive in South Korea. While there are several support programs, accelerators, incubators for Korean and global startups to succeed locally in Korea, the government also encourages Korean startups to venture abroad. Korean startups are upping the K-Game by spreading the ‘Hallyu’ or Korean wave worldwide with their products and services. 

KoreaTechDesk lists some promising Korean startups that are setting their shops abroad & finding success.

Hyperconnect (Europe)

Korean startup Hyperconnect is taking the world by storm with its innovative mobile applications. The startup introduced Azar, a video-chatting app that allows users to chat casually with people of similar interests on the other side of the globe by simply swiping the screen with their fingers in a safe and enjoyable environment. Azar users can make friends from all over the world from the comfort of their own home.

Azar- video-chatting app

Last year, the app recorded massive success in Europe getting ranked 6th as Europe’s top favored apps and 6th in revenue generation in 2020. Azar was ranked 6th among all non-gaming apps in 2020 and 4th on Google Play Store. This year the startup plans to launch SLIDE in the North American market. SLIDE a video-first dating and social discovery app set to change the international dating scene.  Global online-dating company Match Group Inc. is set to acquire Korean startup Hyperconnect. The cash-and-stock deal worth $1.73 billion is Match Group’s largest acquisition that will broaden its services beyond dating connections.

Korikart (India)

Based in Delhi, India, Korikart is India’s leading one-stop online store for Korean products ranging from beauty, fashion, skincare, home, personal care, etc. The startup only imports the finest high-end Korean products that are most likely to sell in the Indian market and other worldwide countries, including the USA, Thailand, and other western nations.


These products are available to the Indian market through their online selling platform korikart.com which currently showcases 70 labels and more than 380 SKUs. Korikart is determined to be the go-to company for Korean products joining hands with numerous Korean businesses and brands and helping them showcase their products through their platform. The startup has expanded its services to Thailand and will expand to the Philippines, Indonesia, and Japan before going international.

Kormena (MENA)

Korean startup Kormena seeks to spread Hallyu to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) by providing a one-stop K-entertainment platform for K-pop, K-drama, movies, and products. Kormena was started with the aim to cut out intermediaries who sold Korean products at 3-4 times their original value in the MENA market. The startup currently operates a Korean beauty products platform in Arabic and English; it plans to expand its product portfolio to shoes, clothes, accessories, toys, action figures, and foods. 

Korean startup Kormena to enter the MENA market.

There are also plans to launch Kormena TV for entertainment and Magazine for features and stories. Kormena TV will introduce old & new Korean movies and dramas summarized in 10 to 15 minutes mini-episodes in local Arabic narration with English as an option. The Magazine will have articles written by professional columnists from Korea about various topics such as Fashion, Beauty, Culture, Travel, E.T.C. in Arabic, and English. 

Duft & Doft (Europe)

Upping the Korean game in Europe, Duft & Doft provides a wide range of fragrances and cosmetic products that give the ultimate body care experience. Their skincare products are made from natural purifying ingredients designed to provide you with an uplifting sensorial experience. Founded in 2013 by CEO Jai H Park, Duft & Doft means ‘Fragrance and Fragrance’ in German and Swedish.


According to Jai, “We let our products speak for themselves. Our phenomenal growth was achieved without any celebrity endorsements. Quite a feat gave the hyper-competitive nature of the K-Beauty industry! But don’t just take our word for it. Find out for yourself why Duft & Doft is gaining so many new fans and was recently dubbed by fashion bloggers as the #1 new cosmetics brand ‘you want to keep for yourself.” With offices in Germany, Italy, and Spain, the startup is set to dominate the European market, with plans already underway to enter the American market.

Unionwave Entertainment (Europe)

Unionwave Entertainment is Korea’s first international K-pop startup that intends to discover and nurture the next generation of K-pop stars. Founded in Switzerland, the startup’s mission is to find, train, and manage international artists interested in becoming K-pop stars.


Unionwave has already signed PRISMA; a new K-pop girl group made up of the U.S., Korean, Spanish, and Italian artists. With an international platform that promotes K-pop music locally and in Europe and world auditions each year, the startup is set to encourage Hallyu through acting as a bridge between Europe and Korea.

Sigma Chain (USA)

Korean startup Sigma Chain entered the US market through the Go Global: Go USA with USAKO Group program. The startup offers advisory, research, and development of customized blockchain technology. Blockchain, at the moment, is slow and full of complicated processes that make mass adoption difficult. Sigma Chain helps customers harness blockchain’s power for their business by providing fast, innovative in-house solutions that make it easier for developers to integrate blockchain.

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