You might be curious, why is South Korea, the country that owns global corporations like Samsung, LG and Hyundai bringing 10 startups to Israel? To answer this question allow me to first explain to you something about the Korean startup ecosystem
This guest post was written by Chaewon Yoo, Korean Techblogger at beSUCCESS and ITDonga
Last Tuesday, Ten top startups in South Korea came to Israel to take part in the Yozma – Lahav Accelerator program. This four week Accelerator program is held by Yozma Korea and Recanti of Tel Aviv University. As they go through this program, these ten startups will have mentorships and classes preparing them for their Demo Day, on the 19th of December.
You might be curious, why is South Korea, the country that owns global corporations like Samsung, LG and Hyundai bringing 10 startups to Israel? To answer this question allow me to first explain to you something about the Korean startup ecosystem.
The Korean economy is mostly appreciated for its role of big corporations u a little something about the Korean startup ecosystem.
Korean startup scene
This whole startup focus is not new. After the IMF and the economical crisis of 1998, the year 2000 saw a boom in .COM’s in Korea but it didn’t end up working out. Afterward people believed that starting your own venture could be risky and opinions about starting one shifted toward the negative.like Samsung, LG and Hyundai. It is true that they contributed greatly to the Korean economy but this focus also brought with it many drawbacks. Firstly, there is little chance for local businesses to make it because big companies holds power with economies of scale. Secondly, most of the students in Korea are looking to get into big companies rather than start their own business.
President Geunhye Park, the first woman president of Korea, brought with her a new paradigm of ‘Creative Economy’ to Korea. President Park was deeply impressed by the book ‘Startup Nation’ which became an international Best Seller, and she thought of bringing Israel’s Startup Nation philosophy to Korea to boost Korea’s venture ecosystem so that when people have an idea and technology, the government can provide a support system for founding a startup.
Now, more and more startups are filling niche market needs that big corporates could not fill themselves. Government is also supporting this startup ecosystem. Park is beginning to encourage the startup trend with a lot of governmental programs to fund startups. As a result of Israel’s heavy influence on President Park and the Korean startup surge in general, much attention is now being paid to Yozma and the Korean government is now looking to the Yozma fund and the Israel ecosystem as a benchmark. Today in Korea they’re beginning to shift their focus to the Israel style rather than the Gangnam style. The Yozma group founded their branch in Korea this June and selected 10 promising ventures out of 500 candidates coming through the Korean government. This program also brought Startups which had positive performances at the Startup Competition held by KBS, the largest Broadcasting company in the country.
A large big part of this rend can be attributed to the influence of the Startup Nation written by Saul Singer. This book was translated into Korean and attracted a lot of attention from the local business and governmental communities. Under the Park administration the idea that creating a new startup ecosystem could help improve the otherwise Big Corporate driven economy is beginning to take root.
In fact, Israel and South Korea have a lot of things in common. First of all, they both had Independence days and inaugurated their government in 1948 and they both place a great value on education. As Korean startups are beginning to make the move toward the Israeli startup style it will interesting to see how things pan out.
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The head of the Korean Yozma Group Korea, Wonjae Lee said “Israeli startups have innovative ideas and Korean startups have great technology, manufacturing and accessibility to Asian market. If we can cooperate the synergy effect will be great.” This program is the result of working with the Lahav program of Tel Aviv University, and will provide startups with Know-how of the Israeli startup ecosystem along with mentoring. A Demo Day will take place on the 19th of December with many of Israel’s influential VCs and Korean government associates.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock/ Young Korean entrepreneur