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[StartupRecipe] How similar to real life of startup is K-Drama Start-Up

#Weekly Funding Overview

[Dec. 7~ Dec. 11]

The total funding of this week is KRW 110 billion.

GoboxLogistics/Transportation-SeedAwesome Ventures
VideoconMedia/Content-SeedKorea Venture Investment
HulamproHR-SeedDouzone Holdings
AstroXDron-SeedCCEI Incheon
MarppleMedia/Content-Asteran Investment-Hanvit Investment
UnijetManufacture11 billionArges Private Equity
FloppycamesGame10 billion
QSTagBio/Healthcare2 billionSeries ASamsung Venture Investment, KT Investment
SmartkioskFood-East Gate Partners, FuturePlay
OnthelookFashion-Fast Ventures, FuturePlay
RealtyPlanetReal estate/Proptech1 billionSeedSJ Investment Partners
OpenplanInsurance-New Paradigm Investment, CNTTech, Nextdream angelclub
Lionrocket1 billionPre-Series AKiwoom Investment, TInvestment
LUNASOFTSoftware10 billionSeries BSoftbank Ventures, Premier Partners
MonolabsBio/Healthcare-E-mart, TBT, Kakao Investment
Chai Corporationpayment70 billionSeries BSoftbank Ventures, Hanwha Investment & Securities, Aarden Partners, SK Networks, Hana Financial Group, Intervest,K2 Investment Partners, Korea Investment Partners, Hashed, Stonebridge, Company K Partners
KickthehurdleBio/Healthcare4 billionSeries ABNK Securities, Industrial bank of Korea, Harang Invest
AZothBioBio/Healthcare6 billionDB Financial Investment, Emford Equity Partners
AimbleBio/Healthcare-SeedNew Paradigm Investment
DesignovelFashion2.5 billionMedici Investment
Deep InspectorSafety1.5 billionIntervalue Partners
Paytalabpayment-Series ALotte Accelerator, The Wells Investment, K Bridge Investmen
LISCure BiosciencesBio/Healthcare-KNOTUS

Major Funding

  •  Simple Payment Service Provider CHAI Corporation made Series B funding worth of KRW 70 billion. Hanwha Investment & Securities led this investment and 13 other companies in Korea participated in it. More than 2.5 million subscribers joined CHAI, launched in June last year. The company acquired I’mport which can link PG Company and allow payments with one line of code this year, securing about 2,200 clients. 
  • Luna Soft invited series B funding worth of KRW 10 billion. The company was established in 2016 and provides Biz messages such as notification talk or consultation talk mainly to fashion E-commerce market. The company is growing by 65% based on its annual turnover, and 80% out of 200 fashion shopping malls in Korea are introducing this service.  
  • KickTheHurdle, a healthcare commerce startup, secured series A funding worth of KRW 4 billion. Kick The Hurdle, which is founded by pharmacists, is greatly growing through word-of-mouth with cost-effective product since the launch of ‘Phytotics’ brand, health functional food. The company plans to increase Phytotics lineup to 30 next year.  
  • Qstag raised series A funding worth of KRW 2 billion. Qstag provides smart on-site diagnosis kit based on customized health care service. Its first product ‘QSCheck-UIS’ allows people to check their health symptoms such as kidney diseases, diabetes, uropathy, and etc. using mobile app with smart urine test strip.  
  • Lionrocket raised pre-series A funding worth of KRW 1 billion. The company manufactures AI voice with deep-learning based voice synthesis technology. Self-developed deep-learning based TTS (Text to Speech) can easily generate voice engine of a specific speaker just with 20-minute voice data.  

More Funding

  • BDSplanet secured KRW 1 billion seed funding. The company provides real transaction price for lands and buildings nationwide. 
  • Azothbio that promotes new medicine development project using AI made series A funding worth of KRW 6 billion.  
  • Unijet, an inkjet printing equipment company with 18-year printing know-how secured KRW 11 billion funding.  

Undisclosed Funding

  • Monolaps raised strategic funding led by E-mart. Monolaps made business agreement with E-mart for AI customized health functional food service and opened the first direct management shop in Seongsu branch.  
  • Onthelook secured a seed funding. It provides services which creators can share clothes and create profits.  
  • Go-box secured a seed funding. Go-box provides three-hour delivery service within the city.  
  • Videocon made a funding. Videocon is a platform for video production contest that connects people who needs to create videos with video producers.  
  • Paytalab secured series A funding. The company provides untact order and payment solution.  
  • Hulampro made a funding. The company operates ‘Personnel Talk’, an AI-based human resources management platform.  
  • Knotus secured a 4% stake with strategic investment in LISCure Biosciences, a development company of immunotherapy drug.  
  • Openplan secured a funding. The company operates a platform Togle service that can easily compare and purchase contact-based insurance.  

#Trend Analysis

How similar to real life of startup is K-Drama Startup

K-drama Start-Up that became a big hit even before its broadcasting came to an end. Viewer rating in Korea was not that successful with up to 5.9%, but startup people seem to be satisfied in that at least it was successful to spread the term of ‘startup’.  The drama was aired in Southeast Asia through Netflix, having big hit. It became very popular enough to be on the list of must-see Korean dramas. It attracts people’s interests in Korea since it showed the way of working, fashion and unique culture of Korea well.  

What is the difference between a life of startup that actual Korean startups feel and a startup in the drama? StartupRecipe and Ziliun (Indonesian media partner) have interviewed 3 Korean promising startup CEOs who made Start-Up reaction video on YouTube and have listened how differences between actual life of startup in Korea and drama.


  • Andy Choi, CEO of Quotabook (Equity management solution)
  • Beomkyu Lee, CEO of Spartacodingclub (Online coding school)
  • David Choi, CEO of Editmate (Youtube editor searching platform)

Reality vs exaggeration = First of all, a co-working space ‘SANDBOX’ where founders make their dream come true actually exists. Sandbox acts like a comprehensive support center that supports places and funds to startups. This role is similar with an accelerator. Sparklabs who was consultant in the drama belongs here. The difference is the way of application.  “Sandbox provides grant, not an investment. There is almost no such ways,” said David Choi, CEO of Editmade. “Samsung C-Lab or Shinhan futureslab is one of places that supports like this. But even this should go through selection and moving for further cooperation, which is quite different from drama,” he added.

There is also an exaggeration in terms of team building and CEO selection. Team building was made so smoothly and the harmony between team members was very good. In reality, it is very difficult to achieve team building by finding reach competency of each member. “It is difficult for Seo Dal-mi to become CEO in reality. It is more general for Nam Do-san who made service and product to become CEO in reality,” said Andy Choi, CEO of Quotabook. The fact that employees in startup wearing trendy and comfortable clothes are working in a free work environment are quite similar with the drama. Beomkyu Lee, CEO of Spartacoding said that he is efficiently working with comfortable clothes unlike inefficiently working at a fixed time in the past when he worked in a major company.  “People in drama dated a lot and their important projects such as development were solved too easily. In fact, there are many founders who postpone their marriage because they don’t have time to have date”  David said.

Awareness of Startup↑= “The popularity of the Venture Capitalist job has greatly increased through the drama in Korea. Startup and VC weren’t popular jobs, but their awareness has increased with a good image in the drama,” said Lee. “Number of young people who want to start a business has increased compared to the past,” said Andy Choi. “Challenging for startup is positive aspect, but there are also many cases where people are forced to challenge for startup because of less opportunity for getting job,” David Choi told us.

“There are some parts that could have been better because they were not like the reality, but the drama showed the reality of startups quite well given that its limitation of genre romance,” Andy Choi said in an interview. “All the steps of startups are challenges, and being able to what I want to do is more satisfying than working in a major company,” he added.

“It is important to find problems that are good to solve, to develop solutions, to recruit good people and make good team, to continuously achieve growth, to increase profits, to compete in the market, to receive an investment and to control minds to prevent from being burnout.”  

* This article was written through the collaoration with Ziliun 


  • Korea Venture Investment Corporation, Korea Technology Finance Corporation and Busan government will corporate together to create New Deal Venture Fund in Busan area that is worth of KRW 100 billion. It is a fund created for balanced development between regions. The funding targets are innovative companies, special zone-related companies and local core businesses. Investor Relation (IR) for startups and venture companies will also be held regularly.
  • Impact Collective, a community-based funding accelerating program aiming at finding to find and fostering startups that can solve global social issues. They held online demonstration day for two days and introduced 20 global startups.
  • Korean startups have successively won at the global pitching contest. BClaps won the GITEX Future Stars. In the Websummit, Ssenstone was selected as TOP 3 of Korea’s first startup through a competition of 250 to 1, and Smart Diagnosis was listed on the top 12.
  • StartupAutobahn launched its first ever startup Autobahn Korea. After three rounds of screening by experts, 5 startups selected to participate in a 100-DAY PoC project with Mercedes-Benz Korea and Daimler departments. The 5 startups pitched on EXPODAY, a virtual demoday . The demoday was hosted by Sparklabs and Seoulstartuphub.

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