The startup environment in South Korea has been growing for a few years now and the major contribution to it is the support system that exists in the country. The government, public sector organizations, and private entities have been putting their weight behind the enterprising founding teams of the startups, so they can create, develop, and market innovative products and services. The supporting organizations not only mentor the startups but also offer them basic aid to convert their ideas to reality. It’s important to them that they support these startups and provide them with whatever necessary equipment or guidance that they need. For example, even offering them something as simple as two, three or four drawers to help them store confidential documents can make all the difference. Of course, sometimes startups need a little bit more help then just their office equipment. Koreatechdesk.com decided to find out the Top 6 private organizations that are supporting startups in South Korea.
The Asan Nanum Foundation was established in 2011 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the passing of the founder of Hyundai – Mr Asan Chung Ju-yung through generous contributions from Hyundai Heavy Industries, affiliated companies and family members of the late Mr. Chung Ju-yung. The focus of the organization is to contribute to the alleviation of social inequality and to promote entrepreneurship among youth. The organization has been playing a major role in supporting and nurturing startups in Korea through various mentoring programs, early investments, and providing workspace. The Namsan Lab Korea of the organization is a start-up incubator co-operated by Asan Sharing Foundation and Facebook. It supports early stage start-ups and consists of independent office space for commissioning, co-operating space, and a meeting room. MARU180 is also another startup support center that provides young entrepreneurs as the infrastructure, network, and education necessary for startup.
In February 2012, the Asan Sharing Foundation established the Chung Ju-yung Angel Investment Fund, worth 100 billion won to revitalize the domestic startup investment ecosystem. The organization also manages the ‘Chung Ju-yung Start-up Competition’ since 2012 where young founders and teams are invited to pitch their products and services. The Competition is held every year from March to August for six months. It consists of a startup entrepreneur lecture, expert mentoring, incubation program, and finalist competition. The Asan Nanum Foundation is also working towards improvising startup policies and regulations through their report ‘Start-up Korea!’ published once or twice a year. The report aims to sort out the problems in startup ecosystems and propose solutions to help design startup policies in the future.
D.CAMP is an important incubator and startup hub in South Korea in the Gangnam area in Seoul. It is a non-profit organization startup hub with a half of a billion-dollar endowment from Korea’s banks. Funded by twenty banks D.CAMP was formed by the Banks Foundation for Young Entrepreneurs on March 27, 2013, to provide pace, network, financial support, and mentoring programs to startups. D.CAMP has a 45,000 square-foot big six-storey space that facilitates as co-working space, a lounge, private office spaces, and rooms for lectures and events.
D.CAMP also partnered with 10 venture capital funds that provide seed investment to selected startups of up to $100,000 in return for less than 5 percent equity. The space organizes monthly competition demo days, which enable startups to share ideas and receive feedback from peers and mentors. D.CAMP has been the starting place for the Bitcoin startup Korbit and some Silicon Valley startups like Oculus. The building also houses some local VCs’ representation. D.CAMP also works with the government regarding various policies regarding startups.
Startup Alliance is an organization set up with the focus on connecting key people in the startup ecosystem in South Korea. The alliance was started by internet giant Naver and the Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning in July 2013. The Startup Alliance helps startups through various programs throughout the year. The organization also has focus on Korean startups that venture overseas. It actively links the founding teams with various stakeholders including the media, government agencies, the National Assembly, and academia. The organization holds conferences and events throughout the year where startups can discuss matters, introduce their services and receive mentorship from experts. There are various programs like Koreans in China, Koreans in Silicon Valley, Japan Boot Camp, etc., for those looking overseas expansion and various clubs like Teheranro Study Club, Teheranro Book Club, Teheranro Funding Club, etc., for networking and collaboration opportunities. Startup Alliance is looking to build a stronger base ecosystem for the startups in the country through various innovative programs and events.
Google’s sprawling 21,000 square feet campus in Seoul is one of the places for all the startups in Korea to get a supportive atmosphere. The cost of the space is nominal at about $70/month for a desk. Startups that move in also get to use $100,000 worth of free Google Cloud Services. This is one of the 6 Google-run campuses in the world and the one in Gangnam is Google’s first campus in Asia. Besides a hassle-free working space, Google Campus also offers a variety of services to its members, ranging from mentorship programs and networking opportunities to free cloud services. The initiative is run by a team called Google for Entrepreneurs which is largely not-for-profit.
The co-working space in Seoul has open offices, an auditorium, a bunch of conference rooms, a kitchen and a common area, plus a separate coffee shop. The campus was opened in May 2015 and since then has been an office for many budding entrepreneurs in S. Korea. Google’s brand name also makes the place a tourist destination for digital nomads across the world.
Google Campus runs an incubator for a selected number of startups, who are called residents. They have their own area and are supported by a great package of Google’s services. Google holds a competition for the residency every six months, and it is a good opportunity to bring a startup to the next level of recognition.
5) Korea Business Angels Association (KBAN)
Korean Business Angels Association (KBAN) is another non-profit organization that works towards establishing a better network between angel investors and startups in S. Korea. KBAN aims to contribute to job creation and national economic growth by fostering angel investors and establishing a network between angel investors and entrepreneurs, expanding angel investment, supporting corporate growth, and creating a virtuous circle venture investment ecosystem. The Angel Investment Support Center has been established and operated by KBAA(Korea Business Angels Association) which is consigned by Korean SMBA (Small and Medium Business Administration) since 2012, under the purpose of creating the decent and official angel investment ecosystem for accredited angel investor and venture entrepreneur. The organization works to the improvement of the system for revitalizing angel investment, suggests policy to government and related agencies on angel investment businesses, researches on Venture Industry of Angel Investment at home and abroad, promotes alliances and exchanges with angel investors and related institutions at home and abroad, supports education and training programs. KBAN also supports Korea’s most popular incubator program for startups, TIPS (tech incubator program for startups).
Established in 1999, Seoul Venture Incubator is one of the oldest organization supporting startups. This Korean company offers help for developing entrepreneurial companies. It provides business support resources and services for startups through incubator management programs. Seoul Venture Incubator finds and develops venture businesses that will become leaders of the future venture industry with creative technological innovation. The organization is supported by the Korean Venture Business Association and also runs an Entrepreneurship Center – KOVA. It offers workspace, conference rooms, mentorship programs, events for startups across Korea.