The K-Startup Grand Challenge, the competitive accelerator programme held every year in Seoul, Korea offers startups all over the world a global platform and the opportunity to break into Asia using the Korean market as a stepping stone. The objective is to encourage and engage startups to present their ideas, support them in their startup journey and help them expand across Asia. Korea has an upper hand in hi-tech research, electronics manufacturing, connectivity, quick consumer consumption of new services and more.
List of Shortlisted Startups
This year saw resounding participation from startups with solutions across IoT, AI, beauty, gaming, urban solutions, wearables and more. The region saw over 500 applications from which over 90 startups from India, Sri Lanka, Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Nepal, Pakistan, UAE, Uzbekistan, and Palestine were longlisted to take part in a live pitch session across three days to a jury panel from the Indian startup ecosystem.
From the live pitching round, 13 promising startups who have the opportunity to enter into the robust Asian market, were shortlisted for the cohort.
Co-founded by Prateek Sharma and Siddharth Jain, both avid sportsmen, Heelium got its origin from 'helium' and 'heel'. Their objective is to create safe and innovative sportswear that yield high performance. Heelium received a grant from the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India for technology development and also won the Economic Times' Power of Ideas in March 2018. Their flagship product is their high-performance running shoes that aim to curb the majority of injuries that occur while running which is set to release around December 2018.
2) Yellow Messenger
Yellow Messenger founded by Jaya Kishore Reddy, Rashid Khan, Anik Das and Raghu Ravinutala is a chatbot platform for e-commerce. The team likens Yellow to a personal assistant for shopping that uses human-assisted AI to make shopping easy. They focus on building an "enterprise customer engagement channel on conversations" that can source data from enterprise data sources and orchestrate conversations across platforms of engagement, such as web, mobile apps, voice assistants, messengers, email, etc.
3) Flexmotiv Technologies
With a vision to be the most reliable and value providing biomechanical company on earth, Flexmotiv was founded in 2017 by Srinivas and Arvind from IIT. A biomechanical product design and manufacturing company, they were offered a seed grant from IIT Delhi to establish the proof of concept and AIIMS Delhi later joined hands in developing the product. Currently, the company is in the final stages of developing their first product ‘Flexcrutches’ which is expected to launch soon.
4) Torchit Electronics
Torchit is a social venture founded by Hunny Bhagchandani and Mohit Chelani that is dedicated towards the upliftment and empowerment of the specially-abled population. It's a hand-held device which can do much more than the traditional cane could with GPS and GSM feature for safety, ergonomic grip for comfort, uniform vibrations and more at an affordable price. Their vision is to help visually impaired people walk easily through unfamiliar paths without having to worry about unknown obstacles in their way.
MintM is a video analytics and computer vision based data platform founded in 2012 by Sachin Garg which helps brick and mortar businesses with friction-less customer experiences by empowering ordinary devices like Signages, Kiosks, and Cameras that are driven by AI. They are funded by MA and accelerated by Microsoft and has won several awards from London Business School, Tie Silicon Valley and NASSCOM Emerge 50 and is working with several large companies with BOTs deployed in more than 6 countries.
Founded by Ni Pavel and Evghenii Godunov, VRJump strives to create the first person experience for everyone. Their primary focus is on VR, AR, and 360-degree videos. They believe VR is a technology that will transform the way we communicate and receive information in the future.
Sum&Substance was founded in 2015 by Andrey Severyukhin, Peter Sever and Jacob Sever, an international team of specialists in machine learning, business process automation and compliance. They are a developer of remote verification solutions, whose technology allows online services around the world to meet regulatory requirements, prevent fraud and enhance customer confidence. As market leaders in online verification and KYC/AML in Central, Eastern Europe and Asia, Sum&Substance has also won The Winner Positive Hack Days award in 2015 and Best RegTech Solution Benzinga Global Fintech Awards 2018.
Co-founded by Adarsh and Abhishek, Vicara is an early stage hardware startup whose mission is to become the leading vendor of new-age technology worldwide, through a combination of innovation, ease of use and affordability for the end-user. Their product Kai is the future of gesture control. Be it designing, gaming or video editing, Kai makes interactions portable, intuitive and fun at the same time.
Imux is an enterprise-ready API by the company Coalition House which can be integrated with the backend software, admin panels, etc. and doesn’t require a lot of modifications to the database. Founded by Siddharth Ram and Ram Harsha, it can connect to any relational database and is customisable for domain-specific languages and structured data sources. It enables users to quickly create and save beautiful reports, dashboards and share with the team. Using Imux, teams can skip writing SQL for searching data and use natural language interfaces to interact with your databases for taking their own data-driven decisions.
10) InformDS Technologies
InformDS Technologies Private Limited was founded in 2015 by Shailesh Prithani, Randeep Singh Ph.D. and Pawan Jain and is based in Mumbai, India. They design and develop an app named Doxper, which allows doctors to maintain patients' medical records on cloud. Its app also offers platform view, scheduling, automation, and referral feature. In addition, the app offers a health record system for patients, which enables users to book an appointment, view history, and check reports.
11) RIoT Solutions
RIoT Solutions was started by Ranjana Nair, Aardra Kannan Ambili, and Sanchi Poovaya. With a cumulative experience of over 30 years in industry and research and developing cutting-edge AI-powered healthcare systems, Raybaby was born while watching a friend's baby who was born prematurely and needed to be constantly monitored. Raybaby is a baby monitor that combines great design with high accuracy, safety, and functionality. The product is supported by HAX as part of the consumer health device program.
12) TagBox Solutions
Adarsh Kumar and Saumitra Singh founded TagBox in 2016 with the vision of enabling organizations to make their supply chains more reliable. Their solutions lie at the intersection of IoT-based monitoring, advanced analytics, and automation and control. Tagbox works with retail, pharma, F&B, dairy and glass companies in India and APAC to cost-effectively and reliably tag any supply chain shipment at the highest level of granularity (box), monitor its health real-time and ensure that the shipments’ quality is not compromised.
13) Text Mercato Solutions
Text Mercato was founded by Kiran Ramakrishna and Subhajit Mukherjee who were working for international brands when they realised the growing need for good content services in the Indian market. Text Mercato is run by a team of professionals who have extensive experience in the content-writing industry. They have been successfully delivering their content services and developing winner strategies for leading global brands across the travel, retail, fashion, realty sectors (among others) for the last 8 years.
What Awaits the Shortlisted Startups in Seoul
In addition to winning a grant of up to USD 100,000, the 3.5 month-long accelerate program will give startups access to free office space, one-on-one mentoring, access to state-of-the-art R&D labs and the opportunity to work in the Global Startup campus.
They also have the chance to attend information sessions and coaching on Korean and Asian business culture as well as consultation on other topics like patents, accounting regulations, tax laws, and more. Teams will also have access to regular networking sessions and opportunities to meet large Korean companies who are eager to partner with startups. Further, to prevent any inconvenience, participants will receive funds to cover their living expenses during their stay in Korea.
Financial support for each startup in the cohort
The settlement funds of $11,130 are distributed in equal installments to the top 80 teams over 3.5 months during August to November 2018 and $22,727 to the top 40 teams during January to June 2019. For the top 40, 20% of total funding will be distributed in January as initial funding and the remaining funds will be distributed to startups that pass the performance evaluation held in April 2019, with 50% distributed in April and 30% in June.
The participating accelerators can also make equity investments in the most promising startups. Everyone's a winner at K-Startup as startups have access to other VCs and investors who may choose to invest in their idea.
Demo Day: Winter is coming
The Demo Day and Settlement Program is set to take place in the winter of 2018. The top 4 teams will be felicitated, of which the 1st prize will receive $100,000, 2nd prize $40,000, 3rd prize $20,000 and 4th prize $6,000 (6,600,000KRW). This winter has a lot in store for startups looking for a gateway to expand into Asia.