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[StartupRecipe] Korea now has 15 startup unicorns

#Weekly Funding Overview

[July. 19~ July. 23]

The total funds raised by Korean startups of this week is KRW 67.8 billion.

Lunitbio30 billionGuardant Health
HakdokmanEducation-M&ACode States
PetfriendsPettech-M&AIMM PE, GS Retail
AmbitionemEspresso Bar-SeedCrypton
Zala CompanyAI Video edit-SeedMashup Angels
DeepMetricsBio/Healthcare1.5 billionKakao Ventures, Shinhan Capital, IMM Investment
Smile SeniorSenior Care-M&AKorea Senior lab
Lawired CompanyLegal tech-sNew Paradigm Investment
UPDREAMKOREASocial Venture1.4 billionImpactSquare, Wiitech Corporation
RebellionsAI Semiconductor14.5 billionPre-Series AKakao Ventures, Shinhan Capital,
Smart ConsumerInterior-SeedThe Ventures
LAFITYFitness1.1 billionPre-Series AHashed, Smilegate Investment, Digital healthcare Partners, Seoul Techno Holdings
NeubilityLast mile Robot-Kakao Investment
VirtualFlow3D content-D2SF
Pixelity gamesVR-D2SF
SirloinEcommerce16 billionSeries BSmilegate Investment, SV Investment, KTB Network, SL Investment, Wonik Investment Partners
bookIPsEducation-SeedPrImer, Primer Sazze Partners
Real Estate Big Data CompanyProphtech-Yanolja Cloud
Waynehills VenturesAI3.2 billionSeries ASB Partners, BNK Venture, Kbridge Investment, Simbon Investment Partners
Nextchapters-SeedKlim Ventures, Fast Ventures, Bluerun Ventures, BRV Capital managment, Goodwater Capital, Sandbox Network, Kim, Sanghun
The TriveMobility-Pre-Series AJunsung Motors
dadaExDelivery-As we make
MonzerMobility100 millionSeedAI Angel club, Korea Venture Investment
NAU RoboticsRobot-Korea Credit Guarantee Fund

Major Funding

  • Medical AI startup Lunit secured a strategic investment of KRW 30 billion from Guardant Health. The U.S. NASDAQ-listed company Guardant Health plans to collaborate in distributing and selling Lunit Scope, a program that helps diagnose cancer using Lunit’s AI. Guardant Health has an overwhelming global market share in cancer diagnostics, with a corporate value of KRW 13 trillion.
  • SirLOIN, a startup that distributes and sells Korean beef, raised KRW 16 billion investment. B2C sales increased 30 times compared to last year, mainly through online malls. With this investment, the company plans to proceed with the new B2B platform business, build a smart factory, and hire talents in various positions.
  • AI semiconductor startup Rebellions got an investment of KRW 14.5 billion. The company has raised KRW 30 billion so far and was selected as the most notable fabless company in Korea. They reduced the production lead time of the test chip, which took two to three years, to less than one year.
  • Online pet care retailer Pet Friends was acquired by GS Retail and IMM PE. They operate AI-customized product services based on pet data and sell their own private brand products.

#Trend Analysis

As of July this year, there are 15 unicorn companies in South Korea. According to the government, the number of unicorns, which was 13 at the end of last year, became 15 this year. Jikbang, Dunamu, and Curly were newly added, while Coupang was excluded after listing on NYSE.

The list consists of 11 companies mentioned in CB Insights, which is mainly cited when comparing global unicorns and the companies identified by the government through the investment industry and domestic and foreign media. If you include those established by Korean founders overseas, such as Noom, Sendbird, and Moloco, the number will further increase. Newly born startups are deemed to be leaders in their fields.

Kurly, famous for its early morning delivery, recently raised KRW 225.4 billion in Series F investment and was valued at KRW 2.5 trillion. They initially aimed to be listed on the U.S. stock market, but they decided to go public on the Korean stock market with this investment. Jikbang is called South Korea’s Zillow, and it is trying to change beyond providing real estate information to a real estate trading and contracting platform. Dunamu specializes in blockchain and FinTech, operating the cryptocurrency exchange Upbit and the unlisted securities trading platform Stockplus Unlisted. Dunamu also announced their plan to be listed on the U.S. stock market earlier this year.

Korean unicorn startups have rapidly increased over the past few years. Startups have accelerated their growth as their technological prowess, driving force, and government’s active support fell in line with each other.

The status of Korean startups began to rise in the global market since Baedal Minjok, a food tech unicorn startup, was acquired by a Germany-based Delivery Hero in 2019. In 2021, HyperConnect was acquired by Match Group for KRW 2 trillion, and Coupang succeeded in listing on the U.S. stock market. Recently, Yanolja set another record by securing KRW 2 trillion investment from Softbank.

“The birth of a domestic unicorn company in the first half of this year proves the second venture boom that has been going on since last year. At the same time, it is a good example to show that the paradigm of economic structure centered on large enterprises is changing onto venture and startups.”, the Ministry of SMEs and Startups said. “In order to create an ecosystem where many technology-based startups can be born as new unicorn companies, we plan to supplement existing venture and startup-related systems such as stock options.”

<TOP 15 Korean Unicorns>

Yello MobileMobile
L&P CosmeticCosmetics
Viva RepublicaFinTech
GP ClubCosmetics
SocarCar sharing
KurlyGrocery delivery
A(Company name not disclosed)Wholesale & Retail
TMONSocial Commerce
ZigbangReal estate

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