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[StartupRecipe] The Middle East Emerges as a New Market for Korean Startups

#Weekly Funding Overview

[Mar. 13 ~ Mar. 17]

The total funds raised by Korean startups of this week is KRW 74.7 billion.

Gosu plusCo-living-GrantTIPS
LupleBiorhythm-care tech-Happy moonday
Futurism labsAI-SeedInfobank, BlockCrafts, 100&100 Ventures
RiduckFitness500 millionSeedKorea Investment Accelerator, Main Street Venture
Goodgang labs3D avatar-Naver D2SF
BNDRSHealthcare-SeedThe Ventures
Travel wallet19.7 billionSeries CSK Securities, Golden Oak Investment, Smilegate Investment, CJ Investment, BNK Investment & Securities
APRBeauty Tech8 billionPre-IPONH, Soo Investment, SJ Partners, Industrial Bank of Korea
Noise-XSound absorption-SeedJNP Global
Green ribbonInsuretech1.9 billionPre-Series ACKD Venture Capital, The Wells Investment, MYSC, POSCO Capital, Krypton
My OrangeCharity Service-SeedSopoong Ventures
CorcaAI Ad tech7 billionPre-Series ABon Angels Venture Partners, KB Investment, Laguna Investment
24.5 CorpHR-SeedYoonmin Foundation, Yonsei Technology Holdings, Angel investor
BoodaRandom shopping700 millionSeed
CrysbeBusiness Management-SeedBon Angels Venture Partners

Major Funding

  • TravelWallet, a global payment service, has raised KRW 19.7 billion in Series C funding. The service, which provides a fee-free way to make payments and exchange currency when traveling or shopping abroad, allows customers to convert their foreign currency to any of 38 currencies and conveniently pay at more than 100 million VISA online and offline merchants worldwide. Additionally, TravelWallet is set to launch a cloud-based B2B payments solution later this year.
  • APR, a global beauty tech company, has raised KRW 8 billion in pre-IPO investment, valuing the company at KRW 700 billion. APR is the owner of several popular brands, including Medicube, Formant, April Skin, and Nerdi. The company is expected to continue the growth trend of its home beauty care device, Mediqube AGR, on a global scale. The investment will be primarily used to strengthen APR’s investment in the beauty device business.
  • Corca, an AI solution startup, has raised KRW 7 billion in pre-Series A investment. The company specializes in developing AI-based e-commerce ad recommendation models and is particularly adept at ultra-personalized recommendations using mathematical algorithms. Corca also provides customized AI solutions for businesses operating in the retail and advertising sectors.

#Trend Analysis

The Middle East Emerges as a New Market for Korean Startups

The Middle East is becoming an increasingly important market for Korean startups. The South Korean government has strengthened economic cooperation with countries in the region, such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, leading to a surge in the number of Korean startups entering the region. Given the region’s young demographic and high rate of internet usage, Korean IT startups have a significant role to play in promoting digital transformation in the region.

At the recent BIBAN 2023, a global startup event held in Saudi Arabia, Korean startups made a strong showing. Last month, 151 companies applied to participate in the Korean Pavilion at BIBAN, resulting in a 15:1 competition ratio. Two Korean startups, Angelswing and Otom, took first and second place in the Draper Aladdin Startup Competition at BIBAN, respectively, with two of the top three teams in the 500-team competition being Korean.

Angelswing, which won first place, is a drone-related startup that provides an analytics solution converting video data acquired by drones into practical survey data. Otom, which took second place, is a low-dose portable X-ray company founded in 2011, with enhanced safety features that minimize unnecessary radiation exposure, making them ideal for non-face-to-face medical procedures.

Other Korean startups are also expanding into the Middle East. The Pink Pong Company, known for its baby shark, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Saudi Arabian Ministry of Investment(MISA) to expand its business in Saudi Arabia. Vestela Lab, which operates Watchmile, a navigation service guiding users to empty parking spaces in indoor parking lots, signed a business agreement to cooperate in local expansion and plans to build smart parking infrastructure.

The Korean government is promoting a framework cooperation program with the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Investment (MISA) to enhance Korean ventures’ entry and business support in Saudi Arabia. The program includes collaboration on opening a global business center in Riyadh, a necessary step to enter the local market in Saudi Arabia.

The Korean government aims to enable Korean startups to contribute to securing new growth engines targeted by the Saudi Vision 2030 project. It will also invite Saudi startups to participate in ComeUp, a Korean startup event held every year.

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