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[StartupRecipe] Top 10 Korean startup stories of 2021

#Weekly Funding Overview

[Jan. 17~ Jan.21]

The total funds raised by Korean startups of this week is KRW  362.4 billion.

GreenlabsSmart farm170 billionSeries CBRV Capital Mangement, SK square, Skylake
PlatingMealkit subscription4 billionPre-Series AJfreshway, Timewise investment, Info Bank, Mash Korea, Strong Ventures
Bold9Fullfillment5 billionSeries APosco Capital, Bailey Private Equity
DeepinsightDeep learning-FuturesPlay, Mando
TBUElectronic car charging-FuturesPlay, Mando
Eta ElectronicsMobility-FuturesPlay, Mando
NodeHealthcare-SeedCCEI Gangwon, Sopoong Ventures
RootrixTree distribution platform-SeedCCEI Gangwon, Sopoong Ventures
NexteditionCamping-Pre-Series ABass Investment, Fast Ventures, Spring Camp
FlexHR38 billionSeries BGreenoaks Capital Management, DST Global
RonficDigital Healthcare4.1 billionSeries AES Investor, Kosme, Lotte Ventures, Laguna Investment, Kimgisa Company
ClobotMobility-Hyundai Motors
Content TechnologiesIP Company builder17 billionPre-Series ASV Investment, Murex Partners, KB Investment, Maven Growth Partners
OluloShared mobility4 billionSamchuly
TogiF&B3.5 billionGS Group, Saehan Venture Capital
JNPMEDIMedical Data Platform2 billionKakao Ventures, Murex Partners, Aju IB Investment, Gentium Partners
Brain GearMedical device-SeedCNTTech
WeltDigital therapeutics5 billionSeries BIMM Investment
ProgroundRunning Platform-SeedSpring Camp
OrganicaFoodtech42.9 billionCITIC Capital
LIFE FESTA1 billionSeedKona Venture Partners, Korea Credit Guarantee Fund
AeonusEnvironment100 millionSeedCCEI Jeju, Crypton
Opino MarketingPerformance Marketing-M&ABiginsight
PaywatchFintech6.3 billionThird Prime, Sparklabs, WNPartners, CTK Investment,
Law&CompanyLegal tech23 billionSeries CAtinum Investment, DSC Investment, Premier Partners, Smilegate Investment, DS Asset Management, Coolidge Corner Investment
HutomMedical Platform17 billionSeries BIMM Investment, Quantum Ventures Korea, KB Investment, Samsung Venture Investment, Nau IB Capital, Korea Investment Partners
HalfzStartup platform6.3 billionHashed, Donghoon Investment, NextG Investment
NdotlightMetaverse-Naver D2SF, Kakao Investment
Block odysseyBlockchain5 billionShinhan Capital
Gomi CorporationVietnam ecommerce3 billionSeries BThe Invention Lab
BitglimDigital IP-SeedThe Invention Lab
icoreVision computing-Korea Credit Guarantee Fund
NfusionGame4.2 billionKB Investment, Hanwha Investment & Securities, Timewise investment, Laguna Investment, ID Ventures, ISU Venture Capital,Seoul Business Agency
PlanneryConnecting platform-M&AKurly
Step PaySubscription solution-GRANTTIPS
Scalar dataElectronic car-SeedCNTTech
Corner MarketKids online shopping-Joongonara
SN Mobile TechnologyFandom platform-Hana Financial Investment
MonoverseNFT Game-Neowiz
SeaWithCultured meat1 billionSeries AMint Venture Partners
KlaycityNFT Game-Friends Games
Amond CompanyFandom platform-Playgram
UmclassActivity Platform-SeedOneday Class

Major Funding

  • AgTech startup Green Labs raised a 170 billion won series C investment. The company operates agricultural data service Farm Morning and fresh produce marketplace Sinsun Market, realizing the digital transformation of the agricultural and livestock industry.
  • HR platform Flex raised 38 billion won in Series B investment. It is an HR SaaS that provides the necessary functions for overall corporate personnel management, winning over 30,000 customers within two years of launch
  • Law&Company, a legal service LawTalk operator, secured an investment of 23 billion won in Series C. Its service is still growing despite regulations on online legal platforms. The total number of consultations amounted to 640,000, and the average monthly visitors reached 970,000 in 2021.
  • FoodTech startup Organica secured $36 million. It has expanded its scope to include simple meals and plant-based meat alternatives, now supplying its products to Starbucks and Costco. The funds will be used to advance into the Chinese and global markets and develop meat alternatives.

#Trend Analysis

Top 10 Korean startup stories of 2021

1. The largest investment ever in Korean startups, raising 1 trillion won per month

In 2021, more than 12 trillion won flowed into startups, marking the highest performance ever. The figure nearly tripled compared to 2020. It is the first time that more than 1 trillion won has been invested in startups per month. The venture investment ecosystem has enjoyed an all-time boom with a substantial inflow of investment, more than 1 trillion won from May to August in a row and December.

2. Coupang’s Listing on the NYSE

Coupang, an e-commerce platform established in 2010, was listed on the New York Stock Exchange, making it a company worth 100 trillion won. It was recorded as the first NYSE-listed Korean startup, showing the elevated status of Korean startups in the global market.

3. Introduction of multiple voting rights put on hold

The multiple voting rights are being discussed along with the successful listing of Coupang. There have once again been growing calls for allowing multiple voting rights over Coupang’s move to the U.S., where the multiple voting system is allowed to attract investment and defend management rights. The introduction of multiple voting rights has been put on hold in the National Assembly.

4. Corporate Venture Capital (CVC) being permitted

As general holding companies of large corporations are allowed to own corporate venture capital (CVC), it is expected that large corporations will invest more actively in startups.

5. Conflicts over online platform regulations

Conflicts between online platform startups and professional groups are underway, such as LawTalk (legal service) and the Korean Bar Association, DoctorNow (remote treatment and drug delivery) and the Korean Pharmaceutical Association, and Gangnam Unnie (plastic surgery reviews) and the Korean Medical Association. The ruling party is pushing for a bill on the fairness of online platform brokerage transactions, raising new regulatory issues.

6. The arrival of the online investment-linked financial companies

P2P financial companies, formerly known as loan businesses, were incorporated into institutional financial firms through the Act on the Online Investment-linked Financial Business. The first online investment-linked financial companies were registered in June 2021. They attracted large-scale investments one after another, raising expectations toward the P2P lending sector.

7. Global Capital Inflow

2021 was the year when large foreign capital flowed into the Korean startup market. Following the sale of Hyperconnect, overseas investors paid attention to unicorns such as Yanolja, Ruiid, Market Kurly, and Carrot Market, as well as soon-to-be unicorns.

8. M&As between startups

There were many cases where startups grew in size through acquisitions. Especially, unicorn companies such as Yanolja, Kurly, Zigbang, Viva Republica, and Socar acquired heterogeneous startups to improve competitiveness and enter new businesses.

9. The war for talent

Startups have started to secure outstanding talent by offering higher starting salaries, stock options, and even shining bonuses than large corporations. As the investment market is revitalized, technology startups with deep pockets are absorbing talent using the funds. In the first half of the year, the war for IT manpower spread throughout the industry, with companies fighting for developers with high salaries as weapons.

10. The rise of Metaverse

Due to COVID-19, non-face-to-face communication has become the new normal, and Metaverse platforms that use virtual reality have gotten a lot of interest around the world. A considerable amount of money was also invested in related companies in Korea.

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