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Why Right Now Is the Best Time Ever for Korean Startup to enter the Singaporean market

sungho-choo - 2021 September 21

“As Coupang succeeded in listing on the U.S. stock market earlier this year, Singaporean investors are paying attention to Korean startups.” Oh Young-rok, CEO of Awesome Ventures, said, “Now is the best time for Korean startups to enter the Southeast Asian market, so don’t hesitate to challenge.” Awesome Ventures runs accelerating programs in both Korea and Singapore. It is the only Korean accelerator in Singapore and is a cross-border accelerator that directly connects Korean startups with the Southeast Asian investment market to help their global expansion. So far, it has fostered more than 50 companies and directly invested in 9 startups.

“Startup ecosystems of Singapore and Korea look alike, but the difference is…”

Singapore’s startup ecosystem, which is the main playing field of Awesome Ventures, resembles Korea’s lot. As in Korea, the government took the lead in forming the startup ecosystem and provided a substantial amount of subsidies. The difference is that, as an Asian financial hub, the market itself is overflowing with liquid funds. “There are enough people in Singapore who are willing to invest money,” says Oh. The scale of each stage of investment is also slightly larger than that of Korea. According to CEO Oh, about 500 million won is invested in the pre-series stage, a scale that is rarely seen in Korea.

Awesome Ventures chose Singapore among Southeast Asian countries because of its charm as a Southeast Asian hub and market funds. Oh states that 70% of venture capital companies are located in Singapore, and all of the global enterprises have their Asian headquarters in Singapore, so open innovation of large corporations will also begin in Singapore. It goes to show that Singapore is the best gateway to enter the Southeast Asian market. The strength of Awesome Ventures as an accelerator is its local network. It connects Korean startups with investors through various public-private networks in Singapore, such as Vertex, an investment company that invested in Grab. This year, it will participate in LAUNCHPAD hosted by the Korea Creative Content Agency to support Korean content startups entering the Singapore market. LAUNCHPAD is a global program designed to help Korean content startups’ overseas expansion in 6 countries, including Singapore.

“Now is the best time for Korean startups to enter the Southeast Asian market”

Awesome Ventures has participated in the LAUNCHPAD program since June and recently finished selecting 5 startups. By the end of this year, it will help them settle in the Singapore market by providing customized nurturing services, from market entrance strategy to actual investment connections. To this end, it conducted a 1:1 in-depth interview with each startup to identify goals and expectations for overseas expansion and invited local investment companies to the interview to confirm the possibility of success in local investment.

Awesome Ventures plans to support launchpad startups in three ways. First, it matches local companies in the same field as the incubated startups and helps them cooperate. The second is to connect them with local investment companies investing in the same field. It also props them up to participate in Switch, the largest event in Singapore, and helps all selected startups set up their businesses in Singapore.

Oh picked DoubleMe as the most promising company to succeed in Singapore. DoubleMe serves the Metaverse platform Twin World, with the recently emerging Metaverse as its core business. There seems to be a high possibility of success as it has already signed a contract with Singtel, Singapore’s major telecommunication company, and is drawing a local response. The company accurately matches the Product-Market Fit, which Oh mentioned as the most critical element in entering the Singapore market.

When asked him for advice on the global market entry strategy for Korean startups Oh advised to improve English skills and enter the actual market to understand the local environment. “The way to increase the chances of success is not just sitting down and setting up a strategy, but facing reality in the local market,” he added. “Now is the best time for Korean startups to enter the Southeast Asian market. As Coupang succeeded in listing this year and HyperConnect was acquired by, there was a Korean buzz among investment companies here.” He advised, “More and more investors are asking us for Deal Flow in Korea, and the atmosphere is really good. If you consider entering Southeast Asia right now, I advise you not to hesitate.”


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