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Korean Government Is Supporting Startups



Founding and establishing a successful business in your home nation is an exceptional achievement. Taking your business global, securing partners, hiring a local team and navigating unfamiliar legislation is even more challenging.

Hedging ambitious bets on global success, an army of Korean startup founders forged overseas business expansion missions in 2015, betting big on overseas opportunity. While the odds were against them (around 90% of startups fail in the first two years alone) Korea’s relatively small domestic population of 53 million means that for many local startups global expansion is the only option to achieve massive scale.

In 2015 many of Korea’s global focused startups had an ace up their sleeve. The country’s Institute for Startup and Entrepreneurship Development (KISED), an organization funded by Korea’s Small and Medium Business Administration, selected and supported fifty startups for three months of total immersion overseas. Partnering with 12 accelerators across the globe, KISED’s program aimed at providing financial and practical support, as well as local connections overseas.

Several in this group are now putting down roots in their respective locations or have established overseas partnerships. For some KISED has even provided additional financial support to cover expenses like overseas incorporation and establishment of local operations.

While support that ultimately plants some of the most promising young companies overseas may seem counter intuitive for the Korean economy, the hope is that these ambassadors will increase the global network value for Korean entrepreneurs. As success often comes down to who you know, KISED’s strategy looks likely to pay dividends.

The initiative also addresses another problem. The pool of experienced entrepreneurs locally who have the skills and knowledge to coach their compatriots to overseas success is small. While there have been several examples of recent startup success in the local market, like Coupang, Baedal Minjeok, Memebox and KakaoTalk, international startup success cases are hard to find.

By supporting Korean founders to expand overseas, KISED is helping to build a pool of Korean founders with international experience that future generations of Korean startups will have access to.

Here we take a look at some of the KISED supported startups from 2015 that have made headway overseas. For reference purposes each startup is linked both to their official website and a short company explainer.

Singapore is a natural springboard for Korean startups entering fresh markets in Southeast Asia and Adval were the local KISED partner supporting them. Three startups from the group made headway during overseas acceleration in this location.

Stripes has built an online platform for men to order custom made suits and shirts. The company immediately hit a chord with investors, raising around USD $1 million in 2014. Sustained, robust growth and successfully establishing a base in Singapore during the KISED sponsored program helped Stripes attract a further USD $4.3 million in November 2015.

NOD BizWare Inc. designs software applications to be used for formal content storage and collaboration in business organizations. ‘NOD CoCo’ is their flagship service, a cloud-based secure content collaboration product integrated with three main functions required for data collaboration including secure chat, storage, and member contacts. By the end of the program in Singapore the company had secured around USD $1 million in funding and launched the service globally on Google Play.

Makestar is a rewards based crowdfunding platform for the entertainment industry. They help up-and-coming celebrities raise money for projects, such as concerts and new album launches. During the program in Singapore they secured initial funding and opened discussions with a number of large corporate groups for further capital injections and expansion into the Southeast Asia region. One of their standout success cases saw a project raise its goal of USD $500 thousand in just three hours in December 2015.

Y Accelerator is an acceleration program from Sheffield, England that was designed specifically for KISED in 2015. Established by Dabriel Choi a Korean entrepreneur who saw an opportunity to support Korean startups with market entry to the UK and Europe Y Accelerator aims to connect the manufacturing heartland of the UK with Korean hardware startups. Three startups involved in the program established local legal entities in the UK and are working towards full UK operations in early 2016.

Ultimate Drone has developed a next generation drone called ‘UD – 10X’. A major leap forward in drone technology, the UD-10X is a revolutionary high-powered, multi-rotor commercial drone. It boasts superior payload capacity compared to others on the market. It also features increased stability and endurance and according to Choi from Y Accelerator is able to outperform existing options by a factor of three.

Perfect for the wet British climate, CLEF Innovation (reference document) has designed an innovative umbrella with multi-functional detachable handle and interchangeable covers. Features include a handle that can be used as a portable charger for USB devices, a torch and mood light and a temperature controlled handle for cold weather. Since the umbrella is designed in a modular structure these features can also easily be detached for use as standalone items. Further customizations like adding speakers, radio, attack alarm, etc., are probably next steps.

Netalkers is a business networking platform that connects professionals and facilitates immersive workshops in a secure environment. While other social networks like Facebook enable the creation of user groups, they are not optimized for a business environment.

The Entrepreneurs’ Round Table was KISED’s partner in New York City. One startup from the program incorporated in the US during the program with two others likely to follow suit in early 2016.

Huinno has designed a vital signs measurement system called ‘Memo’ that uses a machine-learning based algorithm based on versatile and proprietary biometric sensors to measure standard non-invasive vital signals. After realising the opportunity for their technology in the USA they have incorporated there and are in the process of building out local operations.

Anyractive and Ediket also saw promise in the US market after their three month stint in New York. Both companies aim to establish US operations in 2016.

Anyreactive has developed a business and educational service that uses Augmented Reality to enhance interaction and communication for presentations, business collaboration and education. Think ‘internet of things,’ whiteboard on steroids.

Like many startups from non-English speaking countries, Ediket is tackling shortcomings in the English proofreading industry and has developed a high quality proofreading service at one-third the industry standard price with faster than normal response times.

Back in Asia, Global Startup Network, who run startup acceleration programs in both India & Vietnam, hosted a number of startups from the KISED program.

Telestar  has developed a state-of-the-art, user oriented IPCC solution for call centers. leveraging over a decade of experience operating call centers, Telestar’s solution can be customised to suit any client’s dynamic marketing environment. As an all-in-one service it has been designed to keep initial capital expenditure and maintenance costs low without compromising on quality. Having spent three months in the heartland of call centres, Bangalore India, Telestar formed a [confidential] partnership with a local corporation and is exploring other business interests in Chennai.

Kostevia (reference document) has pioneered imports of the non-caloric sweetener, stevia, into the Korean market to provide diabetics with a natural and safe alternative sweetener. Stevia is native to South America and KoStevia’s CEO Joo-Hyung Lee was inspired to found the company when he came across the product in Singapore. During their acceleration program in Vietnam KoStevai established a legal entity and secured initial purchase orders (POs) from a number of local companies.

Earing  realised that there is an unavoidable 20 second lead time when selecting and starting to listen to files, like music, on the go. Capitalising on this, they have developed a mobile marketing solution that delivers audio messages and push notifications to smartphone users. Their SDK allows clients to plug Earing into their native apps and generate audio advertisements for users who access them.

During their overseas program in Shanghai they signed a partnership with Dragonfly FM, one of the biggest radio stations in China.

Creative Bomb developed Boto, a learning app for children. Boto aims to boost toddler’s cognitive ability, promote creativity, all while having fun. It is themed on the adventures of the cute pink dolphin, BOTO and various marine creatures.

While ‘edutainment’ for kids is a crowded space in China Creative Bomb worked tirelessly to fine-tune their biz model for the Chinese market and conducted promotional activities to gain exposure. Thanks to a road show in China and regular appearances at local events Creative Bomb secured extensive coverage in newspapers and live broadcasts.

This article was written by Nathan Millard of G3 Partners. see more.


Why Angel Investors are Shaking Up the Global Startup Scene



Candace Johnson is someone who has made a global impact on our modern international telecom and broadcast business. She co-initiated the foundation of SES-Astra and SES Global, which today owns a fleet of 54 satellites and broadcasts 6500 TV channels. And she founded the world’s first Internet-based online service, Europe Online, making it into one of the first broadband Internet services.

But it was in her role as president of EBAN, the European trade association of several hundred business angels, which brought her to Eindhoven’s High Tech Campus recently. She explains why angel investors are making a difference to the global start-up scene and explodes several myths that surrounds the way they do business. She spoke with StartupDelta’s Jonathan Marks.

Building the match between angel investors and hardware startups

“People often think that angel investors are people who do investments around the corner, locally, or in services like e-commerce. To be frank, when the HTCE management told me that they were focussing on the hardware side of things, I was thrilled.”

“What I’m trying to do as President of EBAN, and having incubated MBAN (MENA Business Angels Network) and ABAN (African Business Angels Network) under my presidency, is to extend the scope of angel investments. The vast majority of angels are already tech savvy. But we need to educate our successful angel investors to invest more in hardware and infrastructure. We also need to help start-ups develop a pitch that speaks to the interests of angels, so they can get funding for their initiative.”

“We run the EBAN Training Institute with the goal of raising standards. We’re seeing more and more that the best angel investors are serial entrepreneurs. They bring their trusted network, expertise and experience to the table.”

“Money is important too, but it is not at the top of the list. Business angel investors are high net worth individuals who usually provide smaller amounts of finance (€25,000 to €500,000) at an earlier stage than many venture capital funds are able to invest. They are increasingly investing alongside seed venture capital funds.”

Angels are more important than most people know

“We follow the guidelines and standards developed by the European Venture Capital Association. For over seven years, during the depths of the financial crisis in 2008 until the recent recovery started, it was the angel investors who took over the role of early stage financing. More than €7.5 billion are being invested annually in Europe, with a sustained growth in recent years. Of that €5.5 billion comes from angels. In fact we have had to professionalize our profession to meet the demand of the growth in this early stage ecosystem.”

We always have an exit strategy

“Angel investors can only continue to invest if they have exits. I hear many people talk about investing. Only a few discuss exits. I want to change that. I also stress that proven entrepreneurial success is essential in order to become a member of our association. We need to ensure that useful “lessons learned” are shared with the start-ups. They are always based on hands-on real-world experience. We have no time for people who are using new blood to try and correct mistakes they made in their own failed companies.”

“EBAN was started in 1999 together with the European commission. For the first ten years, I think people were too focussed on the investing part. Now we need to focus on exits and returns on investment. Without returns, business angels are out of business. And remember there is only a short window of opportunity during which start-ups can scale-up to becoming global success stories”.

“Our feeling is that you should not make an investment in a company unless you can see the path for the exit. The exit may be a trade sale, an IPO, etc. The exit also does not have to be 100 %. It does, however, have to bring you a return on your investment so that you can continue to invest. This approach helps you focus on building great companies. There’s always competition in healthy markets, so no-one can afford to waste time. We’re not a charity; we’re doing this because we love building and financing global success stories. We’re therefore looking for companies with a real marketable product, not a prototype or a collection of well-presented ideas.”

Is there specific advice you can share with high-tech startups?

“In the last few years we’ve seen the rise of the accelerators alongside incubators. They have helped raise standards because a good idea needs to be validated by the market before it is the basis for a high-growth company.”

“As investors, we always need to see a start-up demonstrate that they have first clients and initial revenues. We’re not saying that they have had to scale or show market traction. But if we are going to put in our personal money, then we expect the founder to be resourceful enough to work out the first product, to have found the first clients and show us evidence of the first revenues.”

“The incubators who help get an idea into reality and the accelerators have been good at making startups better prepared for angel investment, offering the right coaching to turn an idea into a validated business. That means angel investors are better able to select the growth companies and focus on making a good return on their investment.”

Hanneke Stegweg

“We recognise that young companies need to present their business proposition to the angels attending our annual conference. So we’ve created ways that teams get immediate, honest feedback on the quality of their business presentation. We have one full day of preparation and coaching followed by a Global Investment Forum. The best go on to pitch to the entire network. This year, the “company to watch” category was won by Hanneke Stegweg, who is the Dutch CEO of the iLost company. Together with Neelie Kroes, I am keen to see more women founders lead entrepreneurial teams.”

What needs to change for things to move faster?

“We held this year’s EBAN congress in Eindhoven at the recommendation of several members. They all work in the innovation and financing of innovation field. But this region also came up in our discussions with StartupDelta. We have worked closely with Neelie Kroes when she was with the European Commission.”

“We were tipped off to the High Tech Campus specifically by our Russian members: the Russian Business Angels and the Skolkovo Foundation who are building the Skolkovo science park just outside Moscow.”

“And last, but not least, I know Eindhoven from my work in telecommunications and broadcasting hardware field. We often came here to work with Philips on the establishment of the DVD and MPEG-4 standards.”

“During our visit to the Brainport area it was clear that there is more than enough money in the region and a healthy appetite to invest in innovation. But there are some caveats that we feel need to be addressed.”

“Frankly, I think we are rather tired of the “nice-to-have” e-commerce companies. We would prefer to reinvest in world-class companies who are building something tangible, solving a real-world challenge. They need to demonstrate they can scale and become global.”

“We can see that the efforts by many have helped to raise the bar in the Netherlands and that’s good news for everyone. But remember there is a difference between entrepreneurs and SME’s. Entrepreneurs are the only ones to change our world. They create large companies, worthwhile employment, and that grows into large revenues.”

Failure is not an option

“We should get rid of this talk of failure being an option. If you’re taking angel money, it is NOT OK to fail.”

“If you take third party money, you have a responsibility as an entrepreneur to do everything you can to make a return on the investment of your business angel. The media keeps talking about friends, family and fools. But that’s nonsense! Founders, families and friends build great companies!”

“I have always been a free marketer at heart. Europe and The Netherlands need to create nations of investors. I believe in the power of private sector-led investment. Government needs to follow the leads set by business angels, not the other way round. We are investing our own money and using our years of experience to scale up these companies. An entrepreneur who is not willing to work and dedicate her or his lives 24/7 to achieve the goal should look elsewhere for money!”

“We’re fortunate that the EBAN network acts as a magnet for excellence. We were honoured to have the President of the European Research Council and the Head of Technology Transfer of the European Space Agency address our Congress to show us where the technology trends are going and where we should invest.”

“From a venture and entrepreneurial financing perspective, we were most grateful to our colleagues from the United States who joined with our European, MENA, and African colleagues to set the bar high in creating, building and financing global success stories. Amongst those joining us in Eindhoven from the United States were the president of the Global Accelerator Network from the USA, the president emeritus of the Angel Capital Association of the USA, the President of Start-Up Angels and Board Member of Up Global from the USA. We also welcomed the President Emeritus of the Crowd funding association of the US as well as the chairman of New York Angels. And we were delighted with the presence of David S. Rose, the president of These are some of the world’s best experts in angel investing.”

“They all said they were pleasantly surprised by the high standard of the startups that came to Eindhoven from all over the world. It was well above what they had expected. Start-ups from Africa, Middle East and Europe traditionally explain what they do, rather than explaining to investors why their idea is important. But that’s changing rapidly for the better. Entrepreneurs are also getting better at defining what they need in order to scale-up.”

NEXT STEPS : It’s all about active networking

“I should explain that in expanding our reach in Europe, with have formed alliances with the European Space Agency and the European Research Council. They also have their own accelerators and incubators. I think the onus is on the angel investor community to help bring this scientific community to a higher level of entrepreneurship. They need to think about the market for their inventions from the beginning. I believe we can help these organisations filter out the very best ideas and give those the attention they need to scale ideas into real businesses. There needs to be a validated market need for the technology they are developing.”

“We have two main events. There is the annual EBAN congress, this year in Eindhoven and next year in Porto, Portugal. And we run the EBAN Winter University, this year running from November 17–19th in Copenhagen. We’re doing this with leading organisations active in Europe’s creative industries. And all this is in addition to individual events and competitions organised by EBAN members at a local, regional and national level.

Increasingly we’re assembling cross-border syndicates, both between European countries and increasingly inter-continental networks linking Europe with innovation hubs in Africa, Middle East and North America. As companies scale and go global, it is important they have access to an international shareholder network. It’s a softer landing when they cross continents.

We also believe there is a way in which we can build partnerships with techno-business parks around the globe, led by the flywheel initiatives shown by High Tech Campus Eindhoven over these very fruitful days in the Netherlands.


About the Author

This article was written by Jonathan Marks, Executive Director at Photon Delta. See more.

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Myths & Facts about Entrepreneurship



Today, there is a pervasive and nearly deafening mantra insisting that you quit your job and become an entrepreneur. The collective says you should do it today because every day you wait brings you closer to a life of poverty and regret.

A central theme in the entrepreneurial world is challenging the status quo and questioning conventional wisdom in search of new and better ways of doing things. If you’re just going to follow the pack, you may as well just get a real job and call it a day.

Entrepreneurship can be incredibly rewarding. Starting your own business may be the best decision you ever make. But it’s not for everyone. There’s a lot to consider before you take the plunge and a lot of myths to expose, starting with these.

Let’s take a glance at some of the Myths of entrepreneurship:

1. You’ll be Happier

Entrepreneurship can be incredibly rewarding. Starting your own business may be the best decision you ever make. But it’s not for everyone. There’s a lot to consider before you take the plunge and a lot of myths to expose, starting with these.

2. You’ll have more freedom, control and work-life balance

If you’re on your own, chances are you’re going to find yourself wearing all sorts of hats and working 24×7 for a very long time. Work will become your life. There’s nothing wrong with that, but not everyone feels more freedom and control that way.

3.You’ll be more fulfilled

Do we know what just about everyone loves to do? Great work that accomplishes goals they can be proud of. One can do that working for a big company, a small company, or their own company. Fulfillment has nothing to do with business ownership. If one wants to manage, lead, or run a business, it’s better off learning the ropes in a good company before starting your own.

4.There are no jobs; technology and outsourcing killed them all

It is shockingly untrue. If technology destroyed jobs, then which one will you call the most lucrative and fastest-growing industry on the face of the earth.That’s right: technology. If you can’t find a job, chances are you lack in-demand skills or education, in which case, yes, you might want to consider starting a small business which does not require much of exclusive skill sets in particular.

5.Entrepreneurs Live a Glamorous Lifestyle

That’s again untrue. Most entrepreneurs do not live a glamorous lifestyle; if they do, their investors should cringe. Entrepreneurs are notoriously frugal, hard working and opportunity-obsessed with little time for outside activities. These qualities are not hallmarks of the glamorous life.

Now,Let’s look at some of the facts of entrepreneurship.

  1. Most successful entrepreneurs succeed by exceptional execution of ordinary ideas: See Jiffy Lube, Starbucks and Charles Schwab.
  2. Most successful entrepreneurs concentrate on minimizing risk rather than taking huge risk at the time of starting their companies.
  3. Successful entrepreneurs use their innovative passion in many ways, such as buying companies, creating new ventures within larger companies and re-strategising nonprofits.
  4. More than 80 percent of new ventures are boot-strapped from personal savings, credit cards, second mortgages and the like. The median start-up capital is about $10,000. Waste Management began with a single truck; Sam Walton started with $5,000. So, in short access capital is not required to startup.
  5. Being first to execute well and delight customers is not at all important for success. A lot of startups have entered quite late in a particular startup industry and have done well.


About the Author

This article was written by Utkarsh Sharma.

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