Startup accelerators and CEOs who participated in Start-Up Seoul’s policy forum Sept. 5 called on the government to encourage South Korean startups to go global and expand their presence overseas.
“If Cyworld had been a global hit, we might have not needed Facebook,” Korea Accelerator Association Chairman Lee Jun-bae said. “But that didn’t happen.”
Hwang Yoon-sik, the CEO of catering startup Fooding Kitchen urged more flexibility, saying he was surprised when he partnered with Uber, which had strict nutrition standards for caterers but at the same time understood the need to adapt food for local tastes. “This flexibility is what Korean startups lack,” he said.
Korea Accelerator Association Chairman Lee Jun-bae
The experts underlined that Korean startups need education about entering the global market. “I participated in a global startup program at Singularity University and found out they focus on fostering good leaders,” said Kim Hyun Sun, CEO of a startup called Do More. “In Korea, it was hard to find any program like that. There are only classes about how to become better in marketing and improve one’s financial status. I think Korean startup leaders should participate in global programs more.”
Kim added that startup leaders should try harder to become fluent in English, as there are a great many opportunities and programs overseas.
Kim Jung-ha, a co-founder of startup accelerator Openwater Investment, also could not find any programs for startups that want to go global in Seoul’s Startup Hub.
The professionals all agreed this education is crucial for a startup in the beginning stage.
“It is usually difficult for a startup that already grew and has firm ground in the local market to be flexible and suddenly adjust its system to countries in the global market,” local accelerator Company A CEO Jo Byung-hyun said. “This is why startups should plan their global strategy from the very beginning.”
Hosted by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, Start-Up Seoul will run until Friday.
By Song Seung-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)