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[StartupRecipe] South Korean Startup Ecosystem on the Rebound? Second Half Sees Increased Funding

#Weekly Funding Overview

[Nov.27 ~ Dec.1]

The total funds raised by Korean startups of this week is KRW 50.6 Billion.

TeamReboottTrade solution500 millionKIBO
EmotivHealthcare2.3 billionPre-Series AMYSC, KIBO
EdamsoKorean traditional Product-SeedCnttech
VMICAircraft financial support service-Pre-Series AGalaxia Moneytree
Liflex ScienceHealthcare-Seoul Techno Holdings, Daewoong
DeepautoAutoML Ops-GrantDeeptech TIPS
PaymintPayment solution-M&AKakaopay
RentreAppliances rental platform2.6 billionPre-Series AFutureplay, Dcamp, KIBO, Dasung Venture
UtopiaGamesGame12 billionSU Holdings
KoolsignMobility1 billionPathfinderh
NanoCampSecondary battery-KIBO
OLIVE INTERNATIONALBeauty brand10 billionSeries BIMM Investment, Primer sazze
Arti.toTatoo-SeedMeshup Angels
MaihubHealthcare-SeedMeshup Angels
MoviationMobility-Pre-Series A500 Global
SconVirtuber tech500 millionPre-Series ASB Partners
LatticeContract solution-SeedSpring Camp
Quantum AIFintech600 millionZoom in partners
Habit factoryInsuretech20.6 billionSeries CMurex Partners, Shinhan Venture Investments, Smilegate Investments, We Ventures, Korea Growth Investment

#Major Funding

  • HabitFactory, a Fintech startup, has successfully secured a funding of KRW 20.6 billion, bringing its cumulative investment to an impressive 34.4 billion won. The company operates SignalPlanner, an insurance comparison and recommendation app that utilizes AI-based counseling to offer personalized products. Notably, HabitFactory has obtained a local mortgage banking license in the United States, enhancing its market presence.
  • Utopia Games, a blockchain-based online social casino platform, has raised a substantial amount of 12 billion won. The company has ambitious plans for global expansion, with an initial focus on Southeast Asia.
  • Olive International has attracted a noteworthy investment of 10 billion won. Leading beauty brands like MilkTouch are experiencing consistent growth both domestically and internationally, driving their accelerated expansion into global markets. Impressively, Olive International achieved sales amounting to KRW 27 billion in the first half of the year.

#Trend Analysis

South Korean Startup Ecosystem on the Rebound? Second Half Sees Increased Funding

The South Korean startup ecosystem exhibited signs of recovery in the second half of 2023, with a slight easing in investment rigidity and an overall increase in funding activities compared to the first half. According to Startuprecipe data, the total amount of money raised in the first half of the year was almost equal to the amount raised through November in the second half, suggesting that the overall investment volume in the second half, including December, could surpass that of the first half.

A notable trend in the second half was the significant increase in the average investment amount per company. Compared to the first half, 25 more companies secured funding of KRW 10 billion or more, and the overall number of investments also increased. However, the difference between the total investment amounts in the first and second halves was not substantial, indicating that it’s still too early to declare a full-fledged recovery.

TossBank emerged as the largest investor in the first half of the year, securing KRW 200 billion in funding. The fintech sector remained a key driver of overall investment in the second half, largely influenced by TossBank’s performance. While consumer tech continued to attract substantial funding, with large-scale investments centered on fashion platforms, the software sector witnessed a remarkable surge in the second half, primarily driven by AI startups. This surge was fueled by significant investments in AI semiconductor companies and generative AI startups.

The healthcare/bio sector also experienced considerable growth, particularly in digital healthcare, with investments in this area rising by over 30% in the second half. While bio-pharmaceuticals did not exhibit a marked upward trend, companies spearheading the digital transformation of the healthcare market, such as AI-powered medical device firms, garnered notable attention.

Mobility maintained a steady flow of funds from the first half to the second half, primarily focused on electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Blockchain startups, which had a near-absent presence in the first half, received investments in the web3 and game sectors during the latter half.

Despite these positive developments, certain sectors, such as logistics/delivery, real estate/proptech, and environment/energy/sustainability, did not witness any investments exceeding KRW 10 billion in the second half.

Overall, the investment landscape in South Korea showed encouraging signs of improvement in the second half of 2023. While the second half is likely to surpass the first half in terms of total investment volume, the difference may not be significant enough to constitute a full-fledged recovery. Additionally, the emergence of unicorns, which were prevalent in the first half, may not be as prominent in the second half. Nevertheless, the recent trends indicate a gradual revival of the investment scene, offering a glimmer of hope for the South Korean startup ecosystem.

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