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[StartupRecipe] January Sees Sharp Decline in Funding

#Weekly Funding Overview

[Feb. 13 ~ Feb. 17]

The total funds raised by Korean startups of this week is KRW 47.8 billion.

PairyB2B marketing solutions-Seed bridgeStrong Ventures
AdddDigital Marketing-Series APosco Capital
Small ticketInsuretech-Kyobo life planet
Afun Interactive3D Virtual Character7 billionShinhan Fund
SeedNProptech1.7 billionPre-Series AKorea Social Investment Foundation, Hana Financial Group, SKT-Infinitum Fund, Hana Securities, Reventures
BitbyteMobile keyboard-Delightroom
SplatScheduling solution-SeedSpark Lab, 500 Global, CJ Investment, Bespin Global
CloudhospitalHealthcare2 billionPre-Series ASJ Investment Partners, Ascendo Ventures
MOYOMVNO3 billionPre-Series ABass Investment, Kakao Ventures
Partridge Systems2 billionPre-Series AEnlight Ventures, HL Mando, Intops Investment, Cosine Investment
NoritKids platform-SeedSeoul Techno Holdings
Tailer townFashion800 millionKorea Investment Accelerator, Findus
YuneFashion600 millionPre-Series AKorea Investment Accelerator, Jones&rocket, Mariooutlet
Mintmembersfashion600 millionPre-Series AKorea Investment Accelerator, Y&Archer
DoodlinHR Solution10.6 billionMurex Partners, Atinum Investment, Altos Ventures, Future Play, Schmidt, Primer
39degrees CMobile app solution-M&ANewid
PetaversePet Metaverse12 billionSeries AKakao Investment
PapamarketFood market7 billionPre-Series ASeries Ventures
VUSMobility-Pre-Series AKorea Investment Accelerator
Simple planetCultured meat-Pulmuone

Major Funding

  • Petaverse, a pet metaverse avatar firm, raised KRW 12 billion in funding, and will use the investment to collaborate with partners on pet avatar technology for the metaverse, animation, and games. The company also acquired HelloPet, which has 10.5 million users, and plans to partner with Kakao.
  • Doodlin, a B2B recruitment management solution, secures KRW 10.6 billion in funding, bringing its cumulative investment to KRW 15.9 billion. With more than 3,000 customers ranging from startups to large enterprises, Doodlin offers integrated management tools for the recruitment process, from job posting to candidate notification.
  • Gyeongnam-based food distribution service, Mr. Dad, secured KRW 7 billion in funding for its direct-to-consumer early morning delivery. With both online and offline stores, the company achieved KRW 13 billion in sales during its first two years of operation.
  • APN Interactive, developer of virtual character Apoki, raised 7 billion won in funding. Apoki boasts 4.8 million followers and has appeared in music programs via a contract with Sony Music Solutions in Japan. The company aims to expand its business by leveraging global IP.

#Trend Analysis

January Sees Sharp Decline in Funding

Investments in South Korean startups experienced a significant decline in January, according to monthly investment reports by StartupRecipe. Only KRW 258.9 billion flowed into startups during the month, which is down 80% year-on-year and 60% from December, indicating a worsening investment environment. This year’s inflow was even lower than that of January 2020, when there was no investment activity, suggesting that the investment market is completely frozen. The number of investments also fell below 100, with only 91 investments recorded.

Despite the challenging investment environment, some sectors managed to attract investors’ attention. Companies that provide sustainable solutions for climate and environment and those that offer solutions for manufacturing sites, including space, successfully attracted investment. B2B SaaS services that improve business efficiency also remained of interest to investors, while the B2C service sector experienced a decrease in investment news.

In the digital healthcare sector, data-driven healthcare solutions, including mental health platforms, were in the spotlight. However, the bio sector experienced fewer investments due to a downturn in the market. Startups with solid revenue models and profitable operations are still attracting funding, with proof of profitability being a key factor in attracting investment.

In January, PeopleFund, a fintech firm, raised the highest amount of funding, securing KRW 24.7 billion. While other companies in the top tier of Series C funding received approximately KRW 20 billion, there were no significant investments that substantially increased the overall funding amount.

The number of companies raising more than KRW 10 billion also fell below 10, and even companies that succeeded in attracting investment reportedly focused on achieving profits through restructuring. Some startups were unable to achieve their initially expected target price.

In terms of mergers and acquisitions, HYBE, the agency representing K-pop group BTS, acquired AI voice synthesis company SuperTone, and Kakao Picoma absorbed content translation platform VoiceThrough.

Seven female-founded companies received investments in January, amounting to KRW 6.9 billion. These companies were active in various fields, but the healthcare sector attracted significant investment, with a focus on solutions for diabetes management and sleep management. Despite the overall decrease in funding, the decline in investment for women-led companies was not substantial, and most of the funding received was in the early stages of investment.

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