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[StartupRecipe] 5 rising Korean alternative food startups

#Weekly Funding Overview

[Dec. 21~ Dec. 25]

The total funds raised by Korean startups of this week is KRW 67.5 billion

WatchaOTT17 billionSeries DeBEST Investment & Securities, LSS private equity, Kakao Ventures
HuinnoBio/Healthcare20 billionSeries BSmilegate Investment, The Korea Development Bank, IBK Securities, A Ventures, Insight equity Partners, YUHAN, SHINHAN CAPITAL, Synergy IB InvestMent, Futureplay
CupixProphtech-Series BBreeze Investment, Atinum Investment, K2 Investment Partners, Murex Partners, WOOMI CONSTRUCTION
BIgpicturelabsblockchain-Pre-Series ABluepointpartners, Korea Science & Technology holdings
Lead walkConsumer-SeedDooroogroup
PoledManufacture8 billionSeries AKolon Investment, POSCO CAPITAL, L&S Venture Capital, SCHMIDT, DSC Investment, Mega Investment
TodaypickupLogistics/Transportation400 millionSeedkimgisacompany, The Ventures
MycelebsAI3.5 billionSeries CSupigen
Fastlanebeauty1.6 billionBridge RoundIMM Investment
Bluesignumhealthcare-SeedDigital Healthcare Partners, Mashup Angels
Springsofthealthcare-SeedSopoong Ventures
AconicFashion-Series AHYK Partners, SK Securities
PharmCADDBio/Healthcare4 billionHuons

Major Funding

  • Cupix, a cloud-based software company that develops a state-of-the-art 3D virtual tour solution has raised KRW 13 billion in a series B funding round. Founded in late 2015, the company which has over 5,000 clients allows anyone to create 3D virtual tours from as few as 360 photos without any special devices. 
  • Watcha, the first Korean OTT service, has closed KRW 36 billion in a series D round. The latest investment brings Watcha’s total funds raised to KRW 59 billion. Watcha plans on using the new funding to create original contents and strength its infrastructure. 
  • Huino, an AI-based digital healthcare solution, has raised KRW 20billion in series B round led by Smilegate investments and The Korea Development Bank. Huinno develops an AI-based wearable medical solution watch typed ECG device (Memo watch), patch-typed (memo patch) and ECG analysis software (MEMO A.I.). 
  • Poled, a car seat maker for kids that branched off from Hyundai motors in 2019, raised a KRW 8 billion in series A, marking the highest fundraising amount for any other car seat company in Korea. The funding will be used for launching its new products and expanding its business into the Chinese market. 

More Funding

  • Mycelebs, an AI application developer, secured 3.5 billion strategic capital investment from Supigen. 
  • Fastlane, a beauty platform that operates Yeoshin ticket (a skin treatment information platform) raised a KRW 1.6 billion bridge round. 
  • Todaypickup, a same day delivery service has raised 400 million seed funding. Todaypickup provides last-mile, on-demand delivery through its logistics solutions and delivery services for mid-sized companies. 

Undisclosed Funding

  • Springsoft, a gamification healthcare platform that diagnose dementia for seniors raised a seed round from Spoong Ventures. 
  • Bluesignum, a personal digital mental care platform for people who are suffering burnout, depression, and anxiety raised seed round funding from digital healthcare partners and Mashup Angels. 
  • Big Picture Lab, a blockchain based productivity tool, raised in a pre-series A round led by Bluepoint Partners. 
  • Equal, an electric small truck manufacturer raised a seed round funding for its truck rental platform for freelance or gig workers who are reluctant to purchase or manage their own trucks. 

#Trend Analysis

5 rising Korean alternative food startups 

Alternative foods market has been growing each year as people care more about healthier life and sustainable alternatives. According to Barclays, the market size of alternative meat will become $140 billion by 2029. 

In Korea, plant-based startups have started appearing in 2017, capturing attention from investors who expect to see future market growth. However, the market size is still small and the number of Korean startups are still less than 10. According to Startuprecipe data, there are about 6 Korean alt protein startups that stood out in 2020. 

Korean traditional dishes made from Unlimeat products

Zikooin company, a food manufacturing startup, develops and markets plant-based meat called Unlimeat. Unlimeat is made from grains, oats, nuts and other plant-based ingredients. Founded in 2017, Zikooin company has raised KRW 4 billion in a series A funding in late 2019 which brings Zikooin’s total funding to KRW 4.6 million. Zikooin held its first public tasting event for the media press and presented Korean traditional dishes including bulgogi, Mandoo (Korean dumplings), Yukjeon (Pan-Fried meat) and other foods made from Unlimeat products. 

Viomix, a food company produces plant-based meat and other alternative foods including eco-friendly sugar and salt. Viomix is founded by a serial entrepreneur Sohyun Yoon, who successfully established California based food company that exports products to about 45 countries in 2006. The company recently raised an undisclosed series A funding led by Altos Ventures who has led growth rounds in Korean Unicorns including Coupang and Toss. With the new funding, Viomix plans to establish a R&D center for making plant-based alternatives and exports products to the US and middle east starting from next year. 

Devotion foods, a plant-based meat startup, was co-founded in 2018 by two chefs who studied molecular gastronomy in the US and Australia. The company has raised a KRW 3.5 billion funding from Kakao Investment this year for its own technology that optimizes the texture and flavor of plant-based meat. Devotion foods started to launch its commercial products in 2021 partnering with existing food manufacturers.  

The number of lab-grown meat startups is also increasing in Korea. Founded in 2017, DaNagreen develops culture meat using its own 3D scaffolds technology which reduces costs but allows mass production of culture meat. The company has raised KRW 1.6billion in a pre-series A funding this year and plans to commercialize their products in 2023. 

Cellmeat produces cultured meat using stem cells taken from animals. Founded by researchers from University of Tennessee, the company has raised a KRW 400 million seed round roughly 4 months after it was founded in 2019. Cellmeat develops cell-based meat through its own culture medium that reduce cost of producing the meat. GilJoon Park, CEO of Cellmeat said that the goal of the company is making meat cuts rather than minced meat. Currently the company is finalizing a KRW 4billion pre-series A funding at a KRW 20 billion valuation. 

Seawith develops cell-based meat through technology based on algae engineering. Founded at DGIST lab in 2019, Seawith develops the world’s first nutrient-dense liquid mediums made from marine algae. The startup has raised more than KRW 1.4 billion funding from investors and government grants this year.  


  • Hashed, an investment company specializing in blockchain, established Hashed Ventures in September this year. In three months, they formed their first fund “Hashed Venture Fund I” worth 120 billion won. The fund is made solely by the management company’s investment and private capital. Through this first fund, it is planning to invest heavily in not only blockchain but also in start-ups that want to realize protocol economy. The fund will be managed by Hashed CEO Kim Seo-joon as the representative fund manager. 
  • SoftBank Ventures has revealed its 2020 investment results. It has invested about 230 billion won in a total of 23 companies this year, and it has recovered about 129 billion won through 11 companies. Notable among investment portfolio companies this year are “Carrot Market,” the second-largest shopping app in Korea after Coupang, and “Fresheasy,” ranked first in the meal kit market, and “Socar,” the first mobility unicorn in Korea. New investment destinations include Must It, Chai, and LunaSoft, and follow-up investments were made to Toss Lab, Radish Media, and Bpro Eleven. 

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