The Korean content industry is growing rapidly with its reach across the world. It is crucial to support the K-Content startups, especially in times of economic downturn caused by the global pandemic situation. The “Second Chance Program” funded by Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA) and operated by Startup-X Co., Ltd., a global impact accelerator from Korea, helped 10 companies in the IT and content convergence fields restart their businesses.
The “Second Chance Program” successfully ended its Demo Day on the 22nd. The program is designed to support ICT convergence content companies to restart their businesses amid the COVID-19 Pandemic, where everyone is fighting their own battle.
Koreatechdesk.com had a chat with Seri Sheen, the CEO of Startup-X Co., Ltd, who has successfully run the program.
1. Please introduce your company, Startup-X.
Startup-X is a global impact accelerator supporting early-stage impact startups to grow, enter the global market, and attract investment through joint programs with global VC/ACs from the United States and Asia. We are mainly focused on tech startups, especially in the content, entertainment, healthcare, wellness, space universe, and environment industries.
2. What is the goal of your company?
Startup-X was founded to help startups that have the technologies to contribute to society and the Earth become successful through global angel networks that have the experiences of starting their businesses. The company was established because we, as founders, wanted our money and experiences to be used for the startups who have globally valuable visions and missions. Above all, our ultimate goal is to prove that the startups with global and social impact can succeed. We will do so by truly understanding and advising the entrepreneurs and supporting those who have worked hard even if they end up failing. We want to be the fan and the supporter of the startups that haven’t given up.
3. Please introduce your team.
One of the things that I’m proud of in my company is the team. All full-time employees have studied abroad and are fluent in Chinese and English as global accelerators. The company’s shareholders also have experience in investment and startups across China, the US, Asia and Europe. Early founders have exit experiences as well, and they are venture capitalists and accelerators at home and abroad. Moreover, we have selected and partnered with experts such as lawyers, accountants, and patent attorneys with experience in starting a business. As a result, we provided the best accelerating experiences to the participating startups and made a meaningful outcome.
4. As a former entrepreneur yourself, what did you feel about restarting your business?
In 2012, I participated in a startup battle held at beLAUNCH, the first global startup event in Korea, which was hosted by beSUCCESS with the idea of a recruitment related app service. I was nominated as the national team at the Qprize, a global startup competition by Qualcomm, and received investment, but in the end, I did not make it. At the time, I had limited knowledge about customers and the market, and it all started with the investment that I won by a lucky chance, so I had to learn from all the mistakes constantly. Business itself was new, fun, and fulfilling, however, the other co-founder and I shared very different visions and values, so every decision-making process was a challenge. It was very hard to agree and became an emotional burden for everyone who worked with us, so I had to give up. When I made that decision, it was tough and painful and I was ashamed, however, I am grateful now because, thanks to such experiences, I’m able to help other startup CEOs in better ways.
6. Could you give us some more details about the “Second Chance Program” by Startup-X?
The “Second Chance Program” is funded by KOCCA and aims to accelerate 10 companies to restart their businesses in the IT and content convergence fields. All the participating CEOs have at least 10 years of professional experience in their fields, so we had to plan a very different initial startup program. Operation and planning this program had to be different from the previous ones because all 10 companies varied in a specialty such as, music, education, game, animation, web drama, character, creator, VR, IoT, and so on. The Mentoring Matching program, which received the highest satisfaction level, was conducted very practically by surveying the participants’ needs first, and then designating the mentor that they asked for. As for the global mentoring, we invited mentors from the East, West US, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Vietnam so that the CEOs can check the global market trends and build networks in the target market. From the beginning, all the programs were planned and designed so that the participating startups can do more with less.
As people work from home and stay contactless where no offline training or networking is available, we figured that online promotion, IR and video lecture content would work best. We released two PR articles for every startup, opened an online video lecture page, Startup-X School(http://startup-x.net/) and online IR showroom and launched an online Demo Day. We supported startups with IR data design, IR video filming, PR article publishing, IR webinar and video lecture filming with famous entrepreneurs, investors, and experts in the content industry. Due to such efforts, all startups could grow exponentially and make great results in such a short period of time, including launching new businesses, increasing sales and hiring, and winning government-sponsored projects. Finally, we will provide a cash prize of a total of around fifty thousand dollars to the final excellent companies in the program.
7. Please introduce the startup companies that participated in the program.
“Mangrove” is a marine professional VR content producer that produces realistic underwater content. “Cinnamon Company” provides multiplatform service and produces new media content for children using character IP. “Dolphin Media” produces broadcasting programs and content that are multi-ending, interactive, and realistic. Hey-stars develops Korean language learning application utilizing content by various popular Korean artists. “Samdwitch” is the developer of the “Sampleer” service that vicariously permits the use of IP to prevent copyright infringement problems caused by music sampling. “ILLIO” is the developer of “FANCIM” service that aims to cultivate a healthy communication culture between the influencers and their fans. “Metabone Entertainment” is a mobile game developer for anyone to enjoy a compact roguelike strategy game. “NR networks” produces, manufactures, and distributes content converged IOT small home appliances with Artificial Reality, Artificial Intelligence features. “IGOGO” is a subscription and o2o platform developer for various kids’ classes. Lastly, “PAF Korea” is a content production company that discovers excellent webtoon IPs and recreates them into new media animated films.
8. When you were running the program, were there any difficulties? Also, what did you like best about the experience?
Due to the COVID 19 situation, we had fewer opportunities to meet with the startups in person. In fact, when it comes to accelerating programs like this, collaboration through networking among the selected teams is important. Also, attracting investment and developing through physical contact with mentors and investors are crucial to making progress. Running the program online made that really challenging. We tried to establish online lecture and IR showroom, which enables systemization from a long-term perspective.
It is also very important for the selected teams to work together, especially when they are content businesses, but it was hard for them to network with each other. Later, hopefully, when the situation improves, we would have offline meetups to support participants’ collaboration.
Preparing an event for 10 CEOs with more than 10 years of experience from 10 each different field was not easy; however, it was a valuable opportunity for Startup-X to learn and grow as an accelerating company specializing in the content industry. Above all, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the 10 CEOs who have made it through and have grown with us even though the circumstances were not so favorable.
9. What is the future objective of Startup-X?
Our goal is to become the best Korean accelerator specializing in the content industry in Korea that global content startups can trust and rely on. To do so, we will continue to carry out many efforts. For instance, we would continue open innovation projects with medium sized content businesses, attract expert mentors and partners such as investors, subcontractors, and overseas content accelerators and establish an investment association that specializes in global content.