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[StartupRecipe] Altos Ventures, the top backer of Korean unicorns

#Weekly Funding Overview

[Fab.15 ~ Fab. 19]

The total funds raised by Korean startups of this week is KRW 382.1billion.

GridwizClean Energy50 billionSeries CIntervest, Meritz Securities, KINGO Investment Partners, NH Investment & Securites, Soo Investment Capital, Medici Investment, SK GAS
JJandcompanies150 millionSeedSeries Ventures
Bold CorporationSaaS1.6 billionSeedSpringCamp, Venturesqure, Dunamis Capital
Eat the CompanyFood-Series ANew Paradigm Investment
XionprocessHealthcare-SeedNextdream Angel Club
OnionfiveSaaS850 millionPre-Series AHonest Ventures, Hana Ventures
CKBiotechBio/Healthcare13.5 billionSeries BKorea Development Bank, YOZMA Group Korea, Knet Investment, Biohub
PikurateKnowledge Curation-SeedIBK, CNTTech
SSMobilityMobility1 billionSeedShinhan Alternative Investment Management
AdddAdvertising-SeedFuture Play
Mr.mentionAccomodation-Series AKBRIDGE Investment, NICE Investment Partners
TMONEcommerce305 billionPre-IPO
Gikuin companyCultured meat10 billionSeries B"IMM Investment, NH Capital, DT&Investment, Pathfinder H, Primer sazze,Yellow Dog, A Ventures "
moAIsGolf-SeedThe Ventures, Kimgisa Company

Major Funding

  • Clean energy solution Gridwiz raised KRW 50billion in a series C funding. The round brings the total capital invested in Gridwiz to KRW 70billion. Founded in 2013, the company connects various energy data to provide sustainable, efficient, and secure Clean Energy service. The new funding will be used for continued expansion and to become the first unicorn in the clean energy sector in Korea.
  • Gikuin company, a cultured meat company, closed KRW 10billion in a series B funding.  The company advanced LMHT(Low-moisture, High-temperature) technology for three years and provides 4 products: Slice, Mince, Burger patty, Pulled BBQ. With the new funding, Gikuin plans to expand its clean meat factory and introduce a system that can reduce carbon by reducing energy in meat production for the first time in Korea.
  • Korea’s leading e-commece platform TMON raised pre-IPO investment of KWR 305billion led by PS Alliance, the funds from the private equity will be used to bolster its company value before going public next year. TMON has embarked on the IPO process earlier this year with hopes to become the first e-commerce player to go public.

More Funding

  • SS Mobility, a mobility maintenance service, raised KRW 1billion in seed investment. SS Mobility is a social enterprise that employs disabled employees to provide car sharing and shared electric kickboard maintenance services.
  • OnionFive raised KRW 850 million and plans to upgrade its customer management solution, OQFi, which provides customer center construction, inquiry, and answer management.

Undisclosed funding

  • Long-term accommodation platform Mr.mention raised in a Series A investment.
  • Knowledge curation platform Pikurate raised seed investment from IBK Industrial Bank and CNT Tech.
  • MoAIs, which operates AI golf swing coaching service and online lesson platform, raised seed investment from The Ventures and Kim Gi-sa Lab.

#Trend Analysis

Altos Ventures, the top backer of Korean unicorns

The issue that heated up the Korean startup scene last week was the sale of HyperConnect, which runs the video messenger service Azar. It was acquired by American company Match Group, which operates 40 services including dating app Tinder, for about 1.75 billion dollars (KRW 1.9.33 trillion). The next big news was Coupang’s going public in New York Stock Exchange. A venture capital is drawing attention as much as these startups due to the series of the greatest news coming out from the startup scene in the history of Korean startups. 

Established in Silicon Valley in 1996, Altos Ventures is a venture capital that invests in the U.S. and Asia, led by CEO Han Kim (Kim Han-joon). Altos is known for the VC that brings up unicorns, and is always listed as the number one VC that startups want to receive the most investment in Korea. In the 2020 Investment Report published by Startup Recipe this year, Altos was also cited as the non-Korean VC that most invested most in Korean startups.

Altos has been the ideal VC in terms of supporting the growth of startups financial and nonfinancial ways. When portfolio company Limo Taxi went out of business in 2016, Altos set a meaningful example by providing an additional funds of 400 million won to help the company wrap up their operations. Altos became a role model, by showing the dedication of an investor of truly being on the same boat as the startup they invested.

CEO Han Kim has mentioned the possibility of success of Korean startups several times in lectures and interviews. He continued to express his strong belief that there could be a startup that can be recognized in the global market. Instead of the logic that a startup should go global by moving beyond the “small Korean domestic market”, he stressed that there could be enough startups that operate in the Korean market and succeed on a global scale. CEO Han Kim also said, “Not all markets are big, but I think there are very big markets in Korea.” His words were actually proven years later. Baemin, sold after occupying the Korean delivery market, and Coupang, now listed on the U.S. stock market after dominating the Korean online e-commerce market, both have grown in Korea and become a global company. In addition, HyperConnect has created a global success story with a video messenger app that is more popular abroad than in Korea.

Altos Ventures’ investment philosophy is simple. They are not limited to certain fields, and only prioritize in people and markets. That doesn’t mean they only look at big markets. While considering the size of the market, they focus on the attitude of the founder. To simply put it, it’s intuition. They also proactively support the growth of their portfolio companies with the thought of creating a great company together, and also are active in follow-up investments. You can get a glimpse of Altos Ventures’ philosophy by a blog post on Toss, a Altos’ portfolio company.

More successful investments are expected from Altos Ventures, because they have invested in many Korean startups recognized as future unicorns. Some of them are: Viva Republica (Toss), which attracted KRW 206 billion in investment in 2020, Socar, which became a unicorn last year, Bespin Global, Korea’s fastest growing cloud computing company, ZigBang, the largest real estate information platform in Korea, audio platform Spoon, which is growing fast overseas, MZ generation’s indispensable handmade product platform IdeaUs, and social game platform ROBLOX that is soon to go public directly in the US. CEO Han Kim also shared his thoughts on investing in Korean startups on Facebook on the 14th. Now, he says he hopes to cases larger than Coupang, Baemin, and HyperConnect cases with a new goal of helping build companies worth trillions in the United States.


  • Kim Bong-jin, founder of food delivery service Woowa brothers pledged to donate more than half of his wealth, estimated to be more than KWR 1 trillion (US$905 million). Kim owns a 9.9% stake in Delivery Hero, a German delivery app that acquired Kim’s company in 2019 for KRW 4.8 trillion (US$4.3 billion). As the first Korean member of Giving Pledge, he will give away more than KWR 500billion.
  • 2021 Global startup Academy DEMODAY was held by Ministry of SMEs and Startups.

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