Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) ‘s Korean Startup Showcase 2022 Singapore participants got insightful advice and value additions to their presentations on October 25, 2022, from VC firm Plug and Play’s Jun Ho Bae. The four-day program from October 24-28, 2022, has 11 Korean travel startups showcasing their products and services to potential global investors and VCs in Singapore. The program conducted by KTO is organized by CNT Tech and co-hosted by Cuvee April.
The session Plug and Play’s Jun Ho Bae was held at Gunderson Dettmer Singapore LLP Office, an international law firm with an exclusive focus on the innovation economy. Jonathan Pentizen, managing and founding partner of Gunderson Dettmer’s Singapore office, gave a small presentation about the firm. Jonathan has extensive experience advising global emerging growth technology companies throughout their lifecycle and acting for venture and growth equity investors on some of the largest financing rounds and M&A transactions in India and Southeast Asia. “We provide a full suite of capabilities to startups from the formation of a company to exit. We represent companies and investors at all stages, from negotiations to raising funds, M&A, etc.,” Jonathan informed.
The VC investor program was led by Jun Ho Bae, who has been an investor with Plug and Play Tech Center for 11 months. His interests in investments mainly lie in FinTech, Healthtech and Insuretech industries.
Plug and Play is a venture firm whose APAC headquarters is located in Singapore. The VC firm, launched in 2010 invests in high-tech startups in the region. It also runs specialized programs in collaboration with partners such as Facebook and the Alliance to End Plastic Waste.
“We are happy to be here. We invest in pre-series startups and look at founders’ backgrounds and how experienced they are. For investments, I look most importantly at economic factors that have the entrepreneur thought through the process, sensitized all critical players, etc. With COVID, travel startups found it hard to grow, but this could be a ground to build upon,” Jun Ho Bae said.
The Korean startups that are part of the ‘StartTour 2022’ are WeAreFriends Co., ltd., an online world travel app developer; Seoul Unniedeul, a K-beauty content platform; Gleam Media Group INC, a K-Pop fan platform; Enkorwithus: a residential service for foreigners visiting Korea; Wmclub, a service that matches functional shoes and insoles; Globaleur, an AI-driven itinerary recommendation and optimization engine; VEStellaLab, a navigation app for parking space.
Jun Ho Bae heard all the pitches by the 11 startups and advised them to improve their presentations. He shared his view as an investor on what would attract him to fund a particular startup. He told WeAreFriends, an online world buddy travel app, “There should be real differentiation between product and company in the presentation. Also, how are you solving the customer retention rate, which is mentioned to be 50%? What about the other 50%? Whether you are in the social or travel industry needs to be direct or whether this was a strategic pivot.”
Jun Ho Bae asked Enkorwithus about their fundraising strategy, profit margins, expenses, and market size, “It’s an interesting market given that short stays in Korea like Air B&B are banned,” he said. For Walking Master, Jun Ho Bae had the advice to capitalize on their strength that they are building insoles for Asian feet, which are different from Western Feet, which global manufacturers make. “When investors read this, it sounds like an offline business, so address it by how you are bringing in technology to customize.”
The program in Singapore has mentoring sessions, VC meetings and a Demo day event for startups. The Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and KTO have set up a Korea Tourism Startup Center(KTSC) in Singapore in 2022 to help tourism startups create more opportunities in Singapore and Southeast Asia. Since 2011, KTO has accelerated more than 1,000 startups over the past 12 years. In the last three years, it has worked to develop startups into innovative tourism companies through a specialized program for global market expansion.
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