K-Startup Challenge 2020: These two startups will be heading to South Korea for the global competition

India-based Growfitter and Turkey-based Emoty.ai were selected to enter the robust Asian startup market and compete at the global level in South Korea

K-Startup Challenge 2020: These two startups will be heading to South Korea for the global competition

Wednesday September 16, 2020,

3 min Read

South Korea is a leading manufacturer in cutting edge electronics and one of the biggest consumers of these digital products. It also has the fastest average internet connection in the world. The country’s highly advanced technology infrastructure also allows for quick consumer consumption of new services. All this and more makes South Korea an ideal place for startups to set up, thrive and grow.

The NIPA (National IT Industry Promotion Agency), the Korean state agency that’s responsible for catalysing future progress for the Republic of Korea, has been at the forefront of achieving national development and economic vitalisation through the ICT industry. It even brings in promising startups from overseas and provides exceptional support for them to establish themselves in Asia. And a part of this initiative is the K-Startup Grand Challenge. Launched in 2016, it offers startups from all over the world a fantastic global platform to break into the Asian market using Korea as a launchpad.

This year, the K-Startup Challenge 2020 witnessed massive participation from startups with solutions across artificial intelligence, logistics, biotech, robotics, beauty wearables, gaming, urban solutions, and more.

The South-Asian region received 62 startup applications from India, Sri Lanka, Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Nepal, Pakistan, UAE, Uzbekistan, and Palestine that were shortlisted to take part in a two-day online pitch session to a 11-member jury panel from the Indian startup ecosystem. Following the live pitching round, two promising startups were selected to enter into the robust Asian market.

Meet the shortlisted startups


Launched in 2015 by Sanmati Pande, a chartered accountant, and Harshit Sethy, a Masters in artificial intelligence and machine learning from IIIT Hyderabad, Growfitter is a machine learning-based incentivised wellness platform. Growfitter offers goal based rewards such as hotel stays, flights, fitness merchandise, fitness supplements and more for steps, running, cycling, doing yoga and even for undergoing diagnostic tests - essentially staying fit.


Istanbul-based Emoty.ai enables consumer companies to conduct remote research and obtain AI-supported insights to understand consumers and their feelings better by combining the power of neuroscience and artificial intelligence. It helps companies perform scalable neuromarketing research without the need of any hardware but a phone camera. With features such as Eye Tracking and Emotion recognition, it’s possible for companies to understand the true feelings of their target audience using our remote solution.

Seoul calling

These two startups will now be invited to Seoul and have access to world-class prototyping, free office space, one-on-one mentoring, testing facilities and expert support along with the opportunity to work in the Global Startup campus. They will be at the heart of the Pangyo Techno Valley — an innovation hub where SMEs and startups can participate in a mutual exchange of information with technology research institutes and large, global companies.

Everyone's a winner at K-Startup as startups have access to other VCs and investors who may choose to invest in their idea. At the end of the acceleration programme, the South Korean government will host a Demo Day to felicitate the top 5 startups.

While each of the 60 startups in the programme will receive $10,840 (₩12,250,000 per team of one person), or $15,490 (₩17,500,000 per team of two people) to cover the living expenses over 3.5 months from August to November 2020, the top 5 winning startups, who will be announced as winners in December, will be eligible for a $240,000 prize pool.