South Korea, resting at a prime location with strong economic and cultural ties with China, Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, is a favourable springboard for startups looking to scale up in the robust Asian market. Armed with strong government support and the title of the world’s most connected country, among other things, South Korea stands out as the hub of innovation and entrepreneurship, making it perfect for accessing maximum scale-up opportunities.
All these opportunities are highlighted and made available to startups through South Korea’s annual gateway program K-Startup Grand Challenge (KSGC). As the world’s largest three-month global accelerator programme, the K-Startup Grand Challenge is financed by the South Korean government to encourage promising startups to venture into the Korean and, eventually, the Asian market.
Held annually at the Startup Campus at the Pangyo Creative Economy Valley in south Seoul, the accelerator programme allows selected startups to work out of centrally-located office space with access to state-of-the-art tech facilities. Startups are provided funding for living and daily expenditure for 3.5 months, along with mentoring and 1:1 business meetings. The startups will also be assigned a Korean intern to ease language and cultural barriers and enable smooth communication.
This year saw over 2,600 applications from 122 countries.
The challenge Demo Day is an event conducted before selections for the startups to present their business opportunities and ideas to expand in the Asian market. This year, the Demo Day was held between June 22 to June 24, 2022, where 84 startups presented their pitches. It was conducted in a hybrid format, with the Indian jury present at YourStory Office and the Korean jury joining over Zoom.
Participants from 11 countries presented their pitches during the event. These countries included India, Egypt, Pakistan, Israel, Turkey, Bangladesh, Iran, Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, and Jordan.
The pitches were judged by a jury that comprised both Indians and Koreans. Two Indian judges and six Korean judges judged the pitches each day. The Indian judges were:
Ms Tanvi Dubey, Chiratae Ventures; Mr Anirudh Siddharth, Inflection Point Ventures; Mr Aiyappa Somayanda and Mr Karumbaiah BK, YourStory Media; Mr Sachin Hittalamane and Mr Devavrat Kulkarni, LetsVenture.
In the end, nine startups were selected to participate in the K-Startup Grand Challenge accelerator programme. These included six from India, two from Turkey, and one from Israel.
They will arrive at the Pangyo Tech Valley campus before August 1 to begin the 3.5-month-long acceleration program. They will use the program space and equipment for production, service development, innovation, and networking, and avail of one-on-one mentoring.