Startups and the sound of crying babies rarely mix together, but at Google for Startups in Seoul on Oct. 30 nobody was irked by the wailing as participants talked about the ups and downs of their businesses.
The rare scene was part of the kickoff event of the fifth batch of Google Korea’s Campus for Moms, a startup incubator program for mothers. This year’s event attracted an overwhelming number of applicants and Google Korea decided to double the size of the batch from previous years.
Over the next month, the participants will receive various kinds of support including workshops on building and growing businesses and other perks like child care service. They will have a chance to demonstrate their businesses on Nov. 27.
Albert Hahn, head of Google for Startups Korea, gives a welcome speech to participants of Google Korea’s Campus for Moms on Oct. 31.
The latest batch of Google Campus for Mom began its one-month journey with 47 moms and one dad on Oct. 31. Majority of the participants have business ideas related to raising kids.
Some of the most successful alumni -- Growing Mom from the second batch and Mamma Recipe from the fourth -- who shared their experience during a panel talk at the event, just happen to help mothers foster their kids. Growing Mom provides online counseling services for child care while Mamma Recipe offers various food products for toddlers.
Google’s Campus for Moms was first introduced in Tel Aviv, Israel, and was sporadically adopted in other countries such as the UK, Germany and Poland. Since then, it has received an enthusiastic response from South Korean moms, 40 percent of whom leave their works sometime after childbirth, according to a survey of 2,533 households by the Korea Institute of Child Care and Education last year.
There are still many barriers for moms, according to Albert Han, head of Google for Startups Korea, during his welcome speech. He pointed out that the number of funding secured by female founders was less than 9 percent last year and only 2 percent in terms of the total amount of funding. “This is why we run Campus for Mom. While Google Campus for Startups can help moms in this regards, it is not enough to entirely solve the problem; only you can solve it,” Han said.
Adriel co-founder Sophie Soo-won Eom, the keynote speaker of the event, said even though moms get too busy to fulfil their dreams, being a mother can help build characters valuable to become entrepreneurs.
“There are many advantages being a mom. For instance, just like a mother would understand what her nonverbal baby wants, moms as founder can understand untold needs of customers and employees,” Eom said.
Eom, who sold her first artificial intelligence-based business-to-business company seven months after she founded it with her engineer husband, emphasized understanding culture is important for building the business.
“Culture is very important for startups and women are sensitive to culture, which is a big advantage,” she added. “In addition, because we are moms, we have a strong mentality.”
By Park Ga-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)