The startup industry in the Republic of Korea is thriving like never before. In a decade’s time, Korean startups have introduced ground-breaking, innovative technological development in the global marketplace. This amazing growth of Korean startups has been possible only because of the correct fostering system that the country has created and is focussed on maintaining. TIPS – the accelerator investment-driven Tech Incubator Program for Startup, is the leading example of the support that the Korean startups have in their country.
Program to Support, Mentor & Promote Startups
TIPS was created to nurture the best of the technology-driven Korean startups. The program is specifically focussed to match the startups with successful and relevant venture founders, who can help them grow globally. TIPS has a vast network of angel investors and offers mentorship to budding startups through professional support. The program offers support from the Korean Government by sharing the risk of business failure. It provides the government’s R&D industrialisation fund to startups that have been selected and pre-invested upon by accelerators.
“TIPS’s main motto is to connect promising
Korean tech-startups with the world.”
The program has a simple process for incubation of a startup and involves the least risk factor for the startups. Any Korean startup that is tech-related can apply for TIPS. The startup should have at least two people and a solid technical R&D plan. Once the startup has been accepted for the program, they sign an investment agreement for them to receive R&D funds from the government.
The Korean startup need not part with its equity as the R&D funds come from the government. Once the startup is successful, they can pay back the funding in instalments in three years’ time. But if the business fails, they are exempted from the payback.
The accelerators are nominated by the government and assigned with allotted referrals. The accelerators then pre-invest approximately $100k to potential startups, which are recommended to the government for the R&D funding. The startups then receive about $500k R&D funds, commercialising and global marketing funds of $100k each and mentorship support. The startups also have the privilege of post-TIPS follow up for global success.
Co-working space, mentorship for startups
The program also has a sprawling co-working space for the startups called TIPS Town. It is in Seoul at the centre of Korea’s startup ecosystem allowing for mingling and networking of startups, investors and supporting organisations. TIPS Town enables entrepreneurs to build and grow their businesses by connecting them with capital support services, mentorship avenues, and collaborative platforms. In the four side-by-side buildings of TIPS Town there are about 94 enterprises including startups, accelerators and supporting organisations and 640 residents. The buildings have all the logistical facilities needed to run a successful business. There is an average of 39 monthly meet-ups and forums for entrepreneurs at TIPS Town with over 2005 visitors per month.
Success Stories and Future Vision
TIPS has seen major success for its startups. As per their records till 2018, 679 startups have got over $124.2 million investment from accelerators and $190 million as R&D funds, $701.3 million as post-investment and 104 startups have gone for global expansion. Some examples of TIPS success stories can be of the FinTech company Balance Zero, which has recorded over 50 million app downloads, the Biomedical startup Lunit that has been selected as ‘World’s Top 100 A.I Startups’ by CBInsights and the IT hardware company Dot that got US $35 million export contract from England and Saudi Arabia.
TIPS has a high profile and leading partnerships in the country for supporting the startup system. TIPS aims to foster more innovative and promising Korean startups and create a viable ecosystem for startups to get global recognition and success.