The startup ecosystem is disrupting traditional business ecosystem in every area like information technology, BFSI, travel or hospitality, etc. Startups are changing the way today’s business is conceptualized and strategized. Driven by the internet, younger demographics and an entrepreneurial wave that is sweeping the globe, globally competitive startups form the key drivers of business transformation.
But do enterprising startups with ambitions to make it big have the right environment to nurture and sustain their ideas? NIPA (National IT Industry Promotion Agency) is creating an environment which caters to this demand.
NIPA is a Government organization of South Korea and affiliated to The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning. NIPA has played a vital role in promoting the ICT industry, developing the ICT Infrastructure and expanding international cooperation in the same areas. The company organizes K-Start-Up challenge which allows different Start-ups from across the globe to participate and win the prizes and establish their business abroad.
NIPA’s K-Start-Up Challenge
K-Startup Grand Challenge is a global startup event held in Korea annually. In August 2016, the K-Startup Grand Challenge saw participation of over 2,400 teams from 124 countries competing to showcase their ideas and establish a business presence. Startups that participated were given opportunities for mentorship and collaboration with famous world-class accelerators.
“Last year, we had 2399 startups from 124 countries join the Challenge. From which, 281 Indian startups applied and 8 were invited to Korea. For the final audition, 4 were selected for a four-month Accelerating Program” said Lee Kyung-hwan, Executive Director of India-Korea SW Cooperation.
Post the Accelerating Program, two startups were selected to be part of the various demo-days. These were:
- Preksh: Based in Bengaluru, their business model is shopping service in augmented reality, received the fund from Korea VC and made a service agreement with a Korean company.
- Sound Rex: Based in Mumbai, their business model is wearable speaker and made it to the final 20, they made a service agreement with a Korean company.
The selection was based on creativity levels in each startup’s concepts and technology, as well as their willingness to start a business in Korea. The program has been applauded for its impartial selection processes, high levels of competence and passion displayed by the participants, as well as their achievements. As a result, several promising companies have taken their first steps into the Asian market, poised to evolve into truly global players.
“In 2017, we are expecting participation from a great number of Indian startups for the K-Startup Grand Challenge,” he added.
Opportunities for Indian Startups by Korean Government
Indian startups can take advantage of Korea as a test bed and launch pad at the same time. “The Korean users and customers are early adapters and opinion leaders in the global market. So many companies launch their services and products in Korea first to understand the market response. Korea has also been the gate way for breaking into the Asian market including Japan, China, and South East Asian countries. Through the K-Startup Grand Challenge, Indian startups can establish a more tangible and keen business model and partner up with various Korean companies. Then they can enter the Korean market and have the opportunity to break into the Asian market more efficiently and effectively,” he added.
Advantages of K-Start-up Challenge
The Korean Government will make every effort to develop their startup capability and the partnerships based on the 4 Month Accelerating Program and various Demo Days.
- Four-Month Accelerating Program
During the four month accelerating program, the company will invite top 50 startups from around the globe to stay in Korea and will give access to free office space, one-on-one mentoring, information sessions and coaching on Korean and Asian business culture. You’ll also have access to regular networking sessions and opportunities to meet with large Korean conglomerates, who are eager to partner with promising startups.
- Free Office and Project Space at Startup Campus
One will be able to work in Korea’s new Startup Campus in Pangyo, located within walking distance of many of Korea’s top tech companies. One will also be provided with an office space for their team, along with equipment, R&D facilities and project space to work on producing or perfecting your product or service. This includes access to a production space with state-of-the-art 3D printers, hardware testing platforms and more.
- Corporate Sponsorship and Support
Korea’s largest tech companies will participate through seminars and workshops. If one needs any help beyond the scope of the K-Startup Grand Challenge acceleration program, he may be able to partner with these companies and receive resources and their expert guidance. Companies signed on to support the startup include Samsung, Hyundai Motors, Hanjin, Doosan, SK, LG, Lotte, GS, Hanwha, KT, CJ, Hyosung, Kakao and Naver.
- Financial Services
Lee Kyung-hwan said “to the selected 50 startups of the Accelerating Program, $850 would be offered as prize money and $12,000 will be offered as living cost and business settlement money. They can utilize the work space and R&D facility including 3D print, testing environment, etc.
The 25 selected during the Demo Days, will be eligible for $27,000 for Business settlement and stabilization. And out of these 25, prize money will be offered to the best 4 ($100,000, $40,000, $20,000, $6,000).”
Lee Kyung-hwan concluded by saying through cooperation between Korea and foreign startups, we want to create Unicorn startups for the global market. And simultaneously enhance the openness of the Korean startup ecosystem and make Korea the Asian hub of global startups.