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[StartupRecipe] 8 Startups Founded by Serial Entrepreneurs

#Weekly Funding Overview

[Nov. 29~ Dec. 3]

The total funds raised by Korean startups of this week is KRW 163.9 billion.

KukkaFlower subscription9 billionSeries BIMM Investment, NH Capital, DT&Investment, Aju IB, SK Securities, BNK Securities
CUPISTDating Platform4 billionSeries AWe Ventures, Strongventures, ZVC
CHABOT MOBILITYMobility8 billionSeries BKB Investment, Hana Bank, Hyundai Marine & Fire Insurance Co,Hyndai Motor, TS Investment, NAU IB Capital
Simple meatCultured meat-Seed
MezooHealthcare2.5 billionSeries A bridgeDongaST
LitinglabsBio/Healthcare13 billionSeries A2Metacare
PeoplefundFintech759 billionSeries CBain Capital, Goldman Sachs,Lending Ark Asia Secured Private Debt Fund
NotaAI17.5 billionSeries BStonebridge Ventures, LB Investment, DS Asset Management, Intervest, CompanyK Partners
StockkeeperFintech2.25 billionPre-Series AKT Investment, NICE Investment Partners,Enlight Ventures, CNTTech
KelleonAI2 billionPre-Series ASU&Financial Investment
HayanMindEducation-Pre-Series A BridgeA Ventures, Winvest Venture Capital
4by4Digital Contents5 billionJYP Entertainment
Grip CompanyLive commerce180 billionM&AKakao
Market of MaterialEcommerce-SeedETRI Holdings, AWESOME VENTURES
ASTRONSECURITYSecurity6.3 billionSeries AKB Investment, Korea Development Bank, Korea Development Bank, Aju IB, Lighthouse Combined Investment
the beyond boundaryContent750 millionSeedBigstone studio
PikurateKnowledge Curation200 millionSeoul Techno Holdings
PUPSCALE PartnersEcommerce solution-SeedSamil PWC
OpenskyeduEducation-Pre-Series A
Culture HeroContent commerce13 billionSeries BStonebridge Ventures, Lotte Ventures, HYK Partners, ISU Venture Capital, Midasdong-a Investment, KB Securities
Hay CollectiveKnowledge Platform4.5 billionSeedVNTG
PetpharmPettech-Pre-Series ANew Paradigm Investment
OZ arenaContent Production-M&AWhynotmedia

Major Funding

  • Grip Company, an SNS-based live commerce company, raised 180 billion won from Kakao and sold 50% of its stake. With this investment, Kakao plans to enhance its commerce competitiveness and strengthen its role as a business partner to help the digital transformation of offline operators and small businesses.
  • Online P2P finance People Fund raised 75.9 billion won from global investors. It plans to invest heavily in credit rating technology based on obtaining MyData licenses.
  • Culture Hero, a content commerce company, secured 13 billion won. The company will expand its business into various lifestyle areas such as kitchenware, living, and camping adjacent to food categories.

#Trend Analysis

Recently, there has been a noticeable increase in startups attracting large-scale investments from the seed stage in the startup ecosystem. These are mainly startups with strong technology or those founded by serial entrepreneurs. Most of the founders who experienced successful exits turned into investors in the past. However, recently, more and more young entrepreneurs are selling their first company in their 20s or 30s and starting a serial business. This year, especially, there was a lot of news about investment in companies established by serial founders. Among the re-established startups, we have compiled a list of startups that have achieved great results this year.

Ahn Sang-il, the founder of HyperConnect, failed twice in starting a business and achieved great success with Azar, the third video chat app. Azar has grown rapidly, surpassing 540 million downloads worldwide. It was sold to Match Group, the operator of the dating app Tinder, at nearly 2 trillion won earlier this year, making it the hottest acquisition case of the year.

Kim Jae-hyun, CEO of Karrot Market, also sold a commerce company to Kakao in 2012 and re-established Karrot Market in 2015. Karrot Market became a unicorn by raising 180 billion won in August, and its corporate value was recognized at 3 trillion won. While solidifying its position as a local life community, it is growing by entering the global market and launching new services such as Karrot Pay, which makes transactions easy for local businesses and second-hand deals.

CEO Lee Seung-gun, who created a financial app Toss used by 20 million people, is also a serial founder. He failed eight times before establishing Viva Republica and launched Toss service for the ninth time. Following its rise to the unicorn in 2018, it raised 450 billion won this year and recently acquired Tada and expanded into the mobility industry. It has grown into a leading startup in Korea expanding into various industries beyond finance.

Another serial entrepreneur is Kim Dong-shin, the CEO of Sendbird, which joined the unicorn ranks in April. By selling game company Paprika Lab and establishing Smile Family, it has pivoted to B2B messaging solution Sendbird and become recognized at home and abroad. Targeting not Korea but global markets from the beginning, it has become a representative Korean startup that has successfully settled in overseas markets.

CEO Cho Sung-woo re-founded Laundrygo, a mobile laundry service, after selling the fresh food delivery service Dumb & Dumbers to Woowa Brothers. Securing 50 billion won last September, it plans to expand its service area and advance into the global market.

Kim Dong-ho, CEO of Korea Credit Data, sold Open Survey, established in 2011, and founded Korea Credit Data in 2017. The company launched Cash Note, an app for small business owners to manage their sales, and now it has become a service with 700,000 users. It is growing rapidly, raising a total of 80 billion won in April and November this year, with a corporate value of 800 billion won.

Recently, you can also find female entrepreneurs who have experienced successful exits.

Lee Min-hee, who founded the kids’ fintech service Lemon Tree, sold the educational startup Bapul in 2017 and released a fintech service for Gen Z. In October, even before the service was released, it raised 5 billion won at the seed stage alone and caught the market’s attention. 

CEO Kim Mi-hee, who founded the creator tech startup Bigc, also sold the educational startup Tutoring established in 2016 and re-established Bigc, a monetization platform for creators. Likewise, in November, it secured 4.5 billion won in the seed stage.

It is expected that serial entrepreneurs will continue to come out in the future. It is because the joint guarantee system, which used to block re-establishment in the past, was eased and thus reduced the cost of failure. Founders are more favorable to the exit than in the past as their perception of the exit has shifted. Large corporations in need of innovations are very active in acquisition as well, helping to create an environment conducive to re-starting a business after a sale.

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