South Korea encourages the growth of the startup scene by endorsing tax breaks and incentives for angel investors and venture capitals, tax benefits for mergers and acquisitions in the technology and R&D sectors, and improvements in visa regulations for startups and entrepreneurs from abroad.
Korea has a phenomenal reputation when it comes to its potential for e-commerce, thanks to the extremely high rate of smartphone usage in the country. According to CNBC, Korea will be the third largest e-commerce market in the world in five years, catching up with China and the United States. Coupang is a great example of this potential, having received a valuation of over USD 500 million.
Human capital can also be said to be one of the strong points of Korea’s startup ecosystem, According to Bloomberg, Korea has ranked second globally for education, and Korea already has the highest university and college matriculation rate among all the OECD countries. According to Startup RADAR, Korea boasts about 30,000 startups that employ over 100,000 people and have a better approach to entrepreneurship and business culture than major Korea companies like Samsung, Hyundai, and LG.
Korea’s startup scene is attracting a large and diverse collection of investors, including Korea based funds as well as corporate VCs, Silicon Valley venture firms, and more.
South Korea is the world’s most connected country with 100% of the LTE coverage. Kore has the fastest average internet connection and the highest number of broadband services per capita in the world.
Korea provides great opportunities to perform consumer testing. With almost half of the country’s population in Seoul, Koreans are known to be early adopters of new technologies. They are eager to be the first to buy and use newly released technology.
Collaboration with Major Korean Companies
In recent years, a great number of major Korean companies have expressed interest in collaborating with startups from around the world. The K-Startup Grand challenge program offers the opportunity for you and your startup to interact with the most innovative and influential Korean companies.
Gateway to Asia
Located in East Asia, South Korea has strong cultural and economic ties with China, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and more. Take numerous advantages of South Korea’s favorable location to launch your business into the Asian market.
Korea is a country that has 11 unicorn startups. Korea’s startup ecosystem is active and well-designed, attracting the attention of investors, accelerators, and incubators from all around the world. Google, for example, launched their first ever Asian Google Campus in Seoul. Facebook is also joining the scene and further empowering Korea’s IT developers through their New innovation Lab opened in Pangyo. Projects between conglomerates and startups are active under the government directions. For instance, conglomerates such as Samsung, Hyundai, LG, SK, PSCO, Lotte, Hanwha, CJ, GS are directly initiating accelerating or venture programs.
Strong Government Support
Korean government is constantly improving the infrastructure that supports the startup ecosystem. For example, the government has budgeted USD 4.5 billion in data related industry for 2020. In the recent press conference, the Korean President Moon Jae In has also asserted to actively assist startups to grow into ‘Scale-up’ stage. By making colossal exclusive funds, the government intends to investing USD 12 billion for the next 4 years. Furthermore, the government has also set an objective of increasing the number of unicorn startups by 20 until 2020. For more startup supporting programs check
Korea’s Cultural Influence
The Korean movie ‘Parasite’ won the Palme d’Or and the first film at the Cannes Film Festival (2019) and leading four awards at the 92nd Academy Awards (2020): Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best International Feature Film. The symbolic K-Pop boy group, BTS has ranked first in Billboard 200. In February 2020, BTS’s new album ‘Map of the soul: 7’ has exceptionally ranked first in the ITunes top album chart of 91 countries. The tremendous popularity of the ‘Korean Wave’ is significantly immense as the Korean Wave contents business has gained USD 2.43 billion abroad in 2018, recording the highest surplus and a 73% increase from the previous year.
Korean Never Sleeps
Koreans are the definition of the “work hard, play hard” lifestyle. Nightlife after work hours is always buzzing. Restaurants, bars, and events go all night long. This is one of the cultures Korea has. You need to know the night culture in order to get to know Korean customers better.
Safety & Security
South Korea is one of the safest countries in the world with the extremely low crime rate. Furthermore, Korea has established a patent law system so that startups could bring their creative ideas under the government protection.
Korean Market Potential
With a domestic market size of about USD 736.21 billion, Korea has the 15th biggest internal market in the world. Despite the tiny population and the small domestic demand market size, the Korean domestic market has great purchasing power, acknowledged by many global firms for a long time. Such environment has provided a footstone for various global startups.
*Sources: K-Startup Grand Challenge