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[StartupRecipe] Korean celebrities investing in startups

#Weekly Funding Overview

[Jan. 4~ Jan. 8]

The total funds raised by Korean startups of this week is KRW 89.7 billion.

GreenlabsSmart farm20 billionHashed, MAGNA Investment, Main Street Investment
JirancommsEducation1 billionSeries ALaguna Investment
GatdaRecyle1 billionBridge RoundShinhan Capital Shinhan Investment,
Awake corporationSocial network-SeedBuzzvil
Tasty9HMR7 billionLB Investment, SV Investment
ppLINKcommunication2.1 billionStrong Ventures, Be High Investment, Klimventures
d.codeFashion10 billionSeries BNeoplux Investment, V Investment, Yuanta Investment, KT Investment
SendyTransportation1 billionSeries ABe High Investment, Korea Venture Investment
Nine CorporationGame2.1 billionWe Ventures, Naver D2SF, Honest Ventures,
HDJunctionBio/Healthcare-SeedNaver D2SF
SEIinManufacture100 millionSeedCompanyA
WealthguideFintech3.1 billionKB Investment, Seoul Techno Holdings, KTB Securities, P&P Investment
KDACFintech-Shinhan Bank
Dablecontents14 billionSeries CKakao Ventures, SV INVESTMENT, KB Investment K2
SuperbAIAI11 billionSeries AAtinum Investment, Stonebridge, Premier Partners, Duke university
4DreplayContents14 billionSeries B BridgeJ Tsai Sports Enterprises,UbiQuoss Investment
PlatingFood-Strong Ventures, SBA
MovilReal estate/Proptech-M&AZigbang

Major Funding

  • Green Labs, a smart farm startup, raised KRW 20 billion. Founded in  2017, Green Labs operates a one stop solution called ‘Farm Morning’ that helps farmers to increase yields.The new funding will be to use for hiring new people, upgrading its one-stop service, and investing in startups focused on agriculture.  
  • 4DReplay, a company specializing in four-dimensional special video production, has raised $15 million in a Series B Bridge funding round. 4DReplay can create video of moving objects from any time, any angle, by any one in five seconds. The company has entered the U.S. market  in 2016 and  provides solutions to major sports broadcasting including NBA, MLB, PGA and UFC.
  • Dable, a personalized content recommendation platform raised  KRW 14 billion in a series C funding. Established in 2015, the company provides personalized news by analyzing contents consumed at media sites in real time. Dable plans to provide its service to all Asian countries by 2024.
  • SuperbAI, an AI data company, secured  KRW 11 billion in series A funding.  Founded in 2018, Superb AI provides a new generation machine learning data platform to AI teams so that they can build better AI in less time.  The new investment will be used for recruiting talented people, upgrading technology and platforms, expanding domestic businesses, and entering global markets.
  • D.code, a luxury fashion preorder platform, raised KRW 10 billion in Series B funding. The company increased its transaction by  more than 300% in 2020, 250% of membership and 400% of total orders, respectively and most of the key indicators are growing rapidly, more than 3 times.
  • Tasty9, a home convenience (HMR) company, has raised KRW 7 billion.  Established in 2015, the company currently has about 250 kinds of home convenience products and introduces them to various online channels and department stores. The funds secured this time will be used to expand R&D centers and expand development systems.

More Funding

  • Wells Guide, which provides the mobile pension asset management platform MyMuffler, has secured a new investment of KRW 3.1 billion. 
  • PLLINK, a corporation that provides online communication solution “Page Call,” attracted KRW 2.1 billion won in investment that will be used to secure talent and expand services.
  • Nine Corporation, a blockchain game engine developer, attracted KRW 2.1 billion worth of Series A investment. They plan to enhance second-party support by advancing the development of our own serverless multiplayer game engine Lip Planet.
  • In 2016, EduTech company Giranjigyo Comms spun off from the Jiranjigyo Soft Messenger division. They recently attracted KRW 1 billion Series A investment.
  • Visiting cafeteria service startup Plating attracted KRW 1.3 billion in bridge round investment and plans to expand production facilities and infrastructure.
  • Cargo Transport Platform Sendy attracted KRW 1 billion in investment and plans to introduce a faster and more accurate one-day delivery solution.
  • Gatda, which operates the mobile resource recovery platform service called ‘Minus’, attracted KRW 1 billion worth of investment.

Undisclosed Funding

  • Awake Corporation, which runs ‘Analysis Chatbot Meerkat’, which analyzes SNS activity data and sends it to Kakao Talk, attracted seed investment from Buzzville and others.
  • Korea Digital Asset Trust, a digital asset management company, attracted strategic investment from Shinhan Bank
  • Electronic medical records (EMR) company HDJtion, which strengthens its connection with external solutions, attracted investment from Naver D2SF


  • Zigbang acquired Movill, a comprehensive housing management platform company, which was a subsidiary of Kakao Pay

#Trend Analysis

Korean celebrities investing in startups

Celebrities investing in ventures has become a popular trend recently. For example, Ashton Kutcher, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Lebron James(NBA star) Leonardo DiCaprio is known to make huge investments in up-and-coming startup companies. This trend can also be seen in Korea. 

Park Chan-ho, a former baseball player who played in the Major Leagues, is one of the most famous celebrities in Korea whose name is often mentioned in the Korean startup scene. Park, who pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers during the late 90s, has joined Accelerator Sparklab as a venture partner after retirement and is currently working as a mentor. Instead of making direct investments to a startup, he is making meaningful contributions as a mentor, spreading the ‘challenging spirit’ that made him a successful Major League pitcher to the startups in Korea. 

Last year, he was also selected as the ambassador for the government-run K Unicorn Supporters and is helping the public become aware of the excellence of Korean startups. Park Se-ri, a legendary golf star, is also appearing as a mentor in various events for entrepreneurs who wish to start their own startup. 

There are also some celebrities who are making direct investments in various startups. Lee Jae-hoon, a famous Korean actor, has recently invested in an E-commerce platform called Market Kurly, which is considered by many as Korea’s Next Unicorn. In 2019, he also participated as an ‘Angel Investor’ in a finance event that was attended by President Moon Jae-in, making a speech stating that the fostering process of a startup is similar to that of training a good actor, and added that he will always support the development of Korean startups. 

Another celebrity who is very active in the Korean startup scene is Bae Yong-Joon, one of the biggest stars who have started the Korean Wave (Hallyu) in Japan and other Asian countries. During the past few years, he has made investments in various areas from hotel management platforms, gaming, and even blockchain. After running his own entertainment agency for more than 10 years, he has turned from an actor to a businessman ever since he sold his company in 2018.  

Some celebrities have transformed from an idol to an investor. One of them is Choi Si-won, a member of Super Junior. In 2017, Choi Si-won invested in a Vehicle E-commerce platform, Getcha. It is known that he decided to invest in the company after carefully examining the business model and the vision of the company. Seungri, a former member of Big Bang, who is under investigation for multiple criminal charges (drug, sex bribery, etc.), has also participated in many startup events in the past and even held the position as a partner of a company that specialized in VR contents.

At this moment, there are not many celebrities who are making investments in Korean startups. In other countries, there are already countless stars who have set up their own venture capital and made huge investments, which is not so common in Korea. Most of the Korean celebrities who are involved with startups at this moment remain as a minor contributor or an angel investor.  The reason why these celebrities invest in promising startups is quite simple, ‘expectations for high profits.’ But in Korea, where the startup ecosystem is still small and less developed, it is more common and ‘easy’ to accumulate wealth by making investments in real estate instead of startups. However, as more and more celebrities start to participate in promising startup companies/campaigns, many expect that the interest of celebrities towards startups will increase in the near future. . 


  • The Seoul Metropolitan Government will operate a ‘Seoul Hall’ at the CES 2021, the world’s largest IT exhibition, and support 15 different startups. This year’s CES will be held online for the first time in history due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Seoul Metropolitan Government has created the ‘Seoul Hall’ within the CES Eureka Park for the first time last year and supported the participation of 20 different startups. This year, they will help promising, up-and-coming startups enter the global market by supporting them once again.  
  • Korea’s KOSPI closed above 3,000 for the first time in history. Such revitalization of the stock market was mainly driven by the emergence of innovative startups. Out of the Top 20 (market cap) companies in KOSDAQ, 13 of them were domestic venture companies. On the other hand, 4 out of the Top 20 companies in the KOSPI market were domestic venture companies. In addition, it has been shown that the corporate value (market cap) of domestic unicorn startups have increased after being listed to the stock market.   

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