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[StartupRecipe] Korea has 18 unicorns, 7 were born in 2021

#Weekly Funding Overview

[Feb.28 ~ Mar.4]

The total funds raised by Korean startups of this week is KRW 340.6 billion.

RidiEBOOK Platform120 billionKorea Develpoment Bank,Atinum Investment, NVESTOR
HaeginGame100 billionSeries BBonAngels Venture Partners, Storm Ventures, Kakao Ventures, Neptune, Net marble, Lotte Ventures, Netease, Alois Ventures, Korea Develpoment Bank
OGQMedia/Content35 billionTscientific
AnimalGoPettech-SeedFuture Play
Waynehills bryant aiAI26 billionShorooq Partners, Vision Creator
GoodystudioWebtoon-SeedCCEI Gyeonggi
PrevenoticsMedical AI-SeedKakao Ventures
Rootrix-SeedFutureplay, Sopoong Ventures
ToeasyMental healthcare1.1 billionPre-Series AWISHCOMPANY, Strong Ventures
RocketviewAI bigdata-M&AOlive young
DrdiaryBio/Healthcare14.7 billionSeries BDevsisters Ventures, Shinhan Investment , Insight Equity Partners, Korea Investment Partners, Smilegate Investment, We Ventures
QuarterbackRoboadvisor10 billionShinhan group
ValuelinkuLogistics7 billionSeries A bridge
HanteoglobalK-Culture-Series ASillicon2
AnnotationaiAI-Pre-Series ANPX Capital
MoinFintech17.2 billionSeries BCapstone Partners, Strong Ventures, BA Partners, Honest Ventures, Comes Investment, Inzisoft, RYUKYUNG PSGQuad Ventures, Settle bank, Coolidge Corner Investment, Shinhan Capital
MonitorappSecurity11 billionPre-IPOKorea Develpoment Bank,KDB Capital, AhnLab
Moca&JSeSignature solution-SeedThe Ventures
UsimsaRoaming data platform-SeedBluepointpartners
MoovingMobiltiy6 billionPre-Series ATigris Investment, Infinitum Partners, Nau IB Capital, Rhinos, DNA Motors, Korea growth investment
HowbuildConstruction solution4.5 billionSoftbank Ventures, Murex Partners, Hana Ventures, Kiwoom Investment
GoqualHomeIoT2 billionWoomi Global
TrashbustersSocial Venture-Pre-Series AStrong Ventures, Bass Investment, HYK
Coatusmobility-Pre-Series AMYSC, UTC Investment, Shinhan asset management

Major Funding

  • Ridi, the operator of e-book service Ridibooks, has raised 120 billion won and earned unicorn status. It has rapidly grown by expanding the service area into webtoons. It plans to enter the video business in cooperation with CJ E&M. The company will promote content businesses such as webtoons, web novels, and videos targeting overseas.
  • Game company Haegin has attracted 100 billion won investment and become a unicorn. Its portfolio includes casual games such as Homerun Clash and Overdox; global sales accounted for 90% of the revenue. The company will focus on upgrading its flagship lineup services and developing new games.
  • Overseas remittance service Moin has secured an investment of 17.2 billion won. With its own algorithm, it offers 90 percent lower remittance rates and four times faster speed than existing banks. It will use the funds to service enhancement and global expansion.

#Trend Analysis

Korea has 18 unicorns, 7 were born in 2021

As of the end of 2021, there were 18 unicorn companies in Korea, the highest on record. According to the government, seven new unicorn companies were born last year, the most in a single year. 

Seven companies listed as the unicorn in 2021 are Dunamu (crypto-asset exchange), Zigbang (real estate brokerage), Kurly (Market Kurly), Bithumb Korea (crypto-asset exchange), Bucketplace (home interior platform), and Karrot Market (secondhand marketplace), and Ridi (content platform). Two companies, Coupang and Krafton, were successfully listed and excluded, while seven new ones were added, bringing the total number to 18. This is a six-fold increase compared to three in 2017. The number of unicorn companies is deemed as an indicator of the startup and venture ecosystem’s scale-up, demonstrating that the Korean startup ecosystem has grown rapidly.

The number of unicorns has increased sharply since 2020. The rise of blockchain startups is noteworthy, including Dunamu and Bithumb Korea. Dunamu, founded in 2012, operates cryptocurrency exchange Upbit and social stock trading platform “Stockplus” and unlisted stock trading platform “Stockplus Unlisted.” Bithumb is the first generation of cryptocurrency exchanges in Korea. It started a cryptocurrency trading service under the name of Xcoin in 2014 and changed its name to Bithumb in 2015. 

Bithumb Korea, Ridi, and Bucketplace are three companies that have recently achieved unicorn status. Ridi, the operator of e-book service Ridibooks, became the first unicorn in the e-book industry. Established in 2008, it launched the largest e-book service in Korea and e-book reader Ridipaper. In 2020, it expanded to the webtoon sector, resulting in a huge increase in revenues. It has recently raised 120 billion won and plans to work on various content businesses such as webtoons, web novels, videos, and music.

Bucketplace runs the home decor e-commerce Ohouse. It offers a variety of services, including interior content, commerce, construction, installation, and repair services, recently adding house-moving services. It has grown significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to evolve, with its corporate value increasing 2.5 times in a year. In addition, game startup Haegin has secured a Series B investment and debuted as a unicorn.

Meanwhile, the government intends to push for policies to support baby unicorns and preliminary unicorns in order to create an ecosystem that can produce future unicorns. It will support the creation of funds worth more than 2 trillion won, investing 1 trillion won in a fund of funds.

Yello MobileMobile
L&P CosmeticCosmetics
Viva RepublicaFinTech
GP ClubCosmetics
SocarCar sharing
KurlyGrocery delivery
(anonymous)Wholesale & Retail
TMONSocial Commerce
ZigbangReal estate
Karrot MarketE-commerce
Bithumb KoreaFinTech
RidiContent platform

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