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[StartupRecipe] Global VCs eye on Korean startups

#Weekly Funding Overview

[May. 24~ May. 28 ]

The total funds raised by Korean startups of this week is KRW 857.7 billion.

Korea Financial Solutionfintech7.5 billionSeries AKorea Investment Partners
You need characterMedia/Content2.7 billionSeries ACapital One, Wooribank, Midasdong-a Investment
Plain bagleMedia/Content3 billionSeries AID Ventures, SangSang Ventures, SJ Investment Partners, Devsisters Ventures
GlorangEducation3.8 billionPre-Series AKorea Investment Partners, Murex Partners, PKSHA capital
Kevin labEnergy-SeedJB Ventures
RuiiidEducation200 billionSeries DSoftbank
GopizzaFood11 billionSeries BWooribank,DS Asset Management, DSC Investment, Capstone Partners, Big Basin Capital
AproachGolf-SeedFast Ventures
AsleepSleeptech2 billionSeries AKakao Ventures, Intervest
Dalroll companyFood1 billionPre-Series AKINGO Investment Partners
SLDTResell10 billionDunamu
Indent Corporation4.5 billionPre-Series AFutureplay, Insight equity partners, SV Investment, angle
Inporkcommerce500 millionPre-Series ACRIT VENTURES
4taleblockchain-M&ADSRV LABS
LalajobCareer1.3 billionPre-Series AWe Ventures, Strong Ventures
NoomHealthcare603.5 billionSeries FSilver Lake, Oak HC/FT, Temasek, Novo Holdings, Sequoia Capital, RRE, and Samsung Ventures
BLQCommerce1.2 billionPre-Series ABass Investment, Fast Ventures, Strong Ventures,
SUHOBlockchain5 billionWemade Tree
nfusionGame1.34 billionSalim Group

Major Funding

  • Mobile healthcare startup Noom, established in the US by a Korean founder in 2008, raised 540 million dollars worth of investment, valuated at more than 4 trillion won. The company is expected to be listed on NASDAQ this year.
  • AI Education startup Riiid, established in 2014, has raised 175 million dollars (KRW 200 billion) in investment from Softbank Vision Fund 2. The company plans to enhance AI technology and expand its talent.
  • One-person pizza franchise brand GoPizza finalized KRW 11 billion in investment. Investment is based on the performance of AI-based smart kitchen technology. The company plans nationwide marketing activities and supports win-win for franchises.
  • Limited edition market SLDT (Soldout), a subsidiary of Musina, raised an investment of KRW 10 billion. The cumulative number of downloads surpassed 250,000 within two months of their launch. It recorded an average growth rate of more than 120%

#Trend Analysis

Global VCs eye on Korean startups

Foreign capital inflowing to Korean startups is accelerating. After Coupang was listed on the NYSE, the value of Korean startups is being recognized even more. Recently, the most significant investment news was reported by the healthcare platform Noom. Noom, a health care app co-founded in the United States by a Korean founder in 2008, raised an investment of $540 million, with a valuation of $3.7 billion. Noom is about to go public on the NASDAQ. Team Blind, which has gained global recognition as an anonymous community for office workers, received a $37 million investment from Storm Ventures, DCM Ventures, and others. The service started in Korea and expanded globally. According to the company, Blind is the second most popular app after LinkedIn among white-collar office workers. Team Blind said, “Through the investment, we plan to advance the listing on the NASDAQ market in the United States in 2025.”

SoftBank is a global VC that has been actively investing in South Korean startups recently. In the past, the company invested $300 million in Coupang and $160 million in IYUNO Media Group last month. This month, it invested 175 million dollars in Riiid, an educational artificial intelligence (AI) solution company. SoftBank is said to have invested in Riiid alone to accelerate its growth in the education market. In April last year, Riiid established a global business corporation in Silicon Valley and recruited big international names such as former ACT CEO and Biden Camp Jim Larimore.

Currently, the hottest issue in Korea’s startup investment market is whether or not Yanolja, Korea’s largest accommodation platform, will raise investment. There are rumors in the IB industry that Yanolja is negotiating to attract trillions of funds from SoftBank Vision Fund, and afterward, plans to list on the NASDAQ in the US. Yanolja stated these rumors are not true, but many speculate that the discussion is ongoing. Expectations are growing that the investment amount will be somewhere between one to two trillion won. Yanolja announced its plan to list in Korea and that it has selected a listing organizer, but the plan is expected to change when it is listed on the NASDAQ. In this case, Yanolja will be another success story following Coupang, which was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in March.

Startups that had planned to go public in Korea are also looking abroad after Coupang’s successful listing on the NYSE. Delivery service Market Kurly and Dunamu, the operator of Upbit, a Korean virtual currency exchange, are pursuing listings. On top of them, unicorn companies that have been affected by foreign capital, including Yanolja and Blind, financial platform Viva Republica and fashion platform Musinsa, are also considering listing overseas. As a result, the domestic startup ecosystem is growing more excited than ever before.

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