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[StartupRecipe] Startups have evolved from investment targets to M&A dealmakers.

#Weekly Funding Overview

[April. 4 ~ April. 8]

The total funds raised by Korean startups of this week is KRW 137 billion.

SLDTSecondhand40 billionMusinsa, Dunamu
HydrochemHydrogen Safety-SeedSopoong Ventures
IcecreativeBeauty MCN-Amore Pacific, Next Content PEF
LiveanywhereAccomodation2 billionPre-Series A BridgeA Ventures, Strong Ventures, Aju Continuum, Blue Point Partners
FruitsFamilySecondhand-Pre-Series AStrong Ventures, KB Investment, Stonebridge Ventures, Fast Ventures, Tektone Ventures
Crazy AlpacaProphtech-Pre-Series AKB Investment
D.WHALEHR-SeedSpring Camp
Witch companyNFT-SeedPartners Investment
Supercent16 billionSeedShinhan Venture Investment, Mirae Asset Venture, Mirae Asset Capital
Penguin houseLaundary-M&Alaundrygo
ISKRABlockchain42 billionSeedCrust, Wemade, NHN bigfoot, Neowiz, Metabora, Kakao Ventures, Fast Ventures
DOSEODAMBook Publishing-SeedCNTTech, Fast Ventures
Onnuri storeWellness15 billionSeries AQUAD Investment Management, UNION Investment partners, Log Investment
FNS HoldingsFashion tech10 billionP&P Investment, DS Asset Management, Union Investment Partners,
LawformLegal tech3.5 billionSeries AD.CAMP, Laguna Investment, Irish Investment, Hana Financial Investment, Saltlux
ROVO AIAI7.9 billionHashed, PKO Investment, Good Water Capital,
Meraki PlaceTelehealth-GRANTTIPS
Ready PostProptech200 millionSeedCNTTech
RaycomIoT-Pre-Series AEnlight Ventures, Liga Investment
VelugaAI Content400 millionSeedSandoll

Major Funding

  • SLDT, the spin-off from Musinsa and the operator of the limited edition marketplace Soldout, has raised KRW 40 billion. It plans to hire developers to upgrade its platform and professionals to enhance the inspection system.
  • Blockchain game company ISKRA has secured KRW 42 billion of seed investment. With this investment, ISKRA, a P2E game developer, will create a global web3 gaming environment and build a community-oriented game platform.
  • F&S, the operator of FASSKER, a stereoscopic 3D fashion content service, has raised KRW 10 billion in funding and plans to expand globally. The company is working on a VR store and a 3D showroom where customers may preview things on mobile devices before making a purchase.

#Trend Analysis

Startups have evolved from investment targets to M&A dealmakers.

Startups have a growing presence in the market. Startups that had to receive investment for growth are now large enough to make acquisitions as well as investments. They are taking over not only startups but also SMEs and business units of large corporations, using them as a stepping stone for business expansion and new market development. Previously, only unicorns have made such moves; recently, startups scaling up before becoming unicorns are following suit. In the first quarter of this year, more than 30 startups enhanced their competitiveness through investment and acquisition. Let’s take a look at the key players and their characteristics.

Until a few years ago, it was not common for startups to absorb midsize companies or units of large corporations. Yanolja and Viva Republica(Toss) were rare cases. Yanolja has aggressively absorbed not only startups but also midsize companies like Interpark since 2018, about to reach decacorn. Viva Republica has also become a big-name startup by absorbing the PG division of LG U+ and officially launching Toss Payments in 2020.

In February, Zigbang joined this lineup by acquiring Samsung SDS’s home IoT division. Zigbang was going beyond a simple real estate information platform and expanding its business, including a metaverse platform. With this acquisition, the company announced its plan to combine Samsung SDS home IoT products with Zigbang residential content and enter overseas smart home markets through the Samsung network.

Lifegoeson Corp., the operator of the mobile laundry service Laundrygo, took over Cleannuri, which is a subsidiary hotel laundry factory of Ourhome, in February to start the B2B business. It also bought Penguin House, an unattended laundry, in April, allowing it to enter the unmanned smart laundry industry. In addition, Jeongyukgak, a livestock product distribution platform, paid KRW 90 billion for Green Village, an eco-friendly retailer under Daesang Group founded in the 1990s. It aims to expand its product line beyond livestock items through this acquisition.

There is a rapid increase in the number of startups taking over startups in the same field. It is a strategy to grow in size and gain an overwhelming market advantage through M&A, while taking a leap to a unicorn or taking an advantageous position for an IPO. What has changed is that more and more startups are absorbing multiple companies at the same time in line with the accelerated pace of innovation and intensified competition. 

The meal-kit maker Fresheasy has purchased four startups in a row, including Tasty9, Heodak, Line Logistics System, and Dr.Kitchen, since the end of last year. As the meal-kit market grew, sales soared by nearly 50% compared to the previous year, establishing a foundation to become a global company. Martech company BigInsight took over marketing companies Taggers and Opinno Marketing at the same time. Livestock tech company Korea Livestock Data bought Blue Recipe and Basbai, and logistics company Wekeep acquired eco-friendly packaging companies Theminam and Hansun Company simultaneously. They all improved their capabilities by strengthening their services or increasing their product ranges. 

Furthermore, unicorns and pre-unicorn companies such as Market Kurly (acquired Plannery), My Real Trip (acquired Dongki), Yanolja (acquired Dodo Point Division), Jobis & Villains (acquired Smoothy), and Buzzvil (acquired Avatye) have bought other startups to strengthen their competitiveness. The industry expects that there will be more acquisitions and investments between startups as a large amount of money has flowed into startups due to the revitalization of the investment market. Investors are also encouraging startups to merge and acquire in order to improve their corporate value and prepare for future exits.

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