Why Startups Should Consider The South Korean Market For Expansion

South Korea, a hidden gem for startups, has one of the most vibrant tech ecosystems in the world and is planning to be one of the top startup hubs in the world by the end of 2022. An ideal location for growth.

South Korea, a hidden gem for startups, has one of the most vibrant tech ecosystems in the world and is planning to be one of the top startup hubs in the world by the end of 2022. In order to fulfil this goal, the government has funded a large, well-designed startup ecosystem that has gained the attention of global investors, corporations, accelerators and incubators—making it an ideal launchpad for startups in the APAC region.

South Korea ranks strongly in multiple areas related to innovation, as well as Seoul ranking 16th in innovative cities across the world according to Startup Genome’s latest report. South Korea has been focused on becoming a startup hub, which is driven heavily by various programs and government support. Funding, and a plethora of opportunities, make South Korea an ideal location for growth and attractive for foreign startups.

Through the Rainmaking Expand: South Korea program, we aim to drive growth, impact and market entry for startups entering South Korea, and for startups, they can find a variety of reasons why they should consider market expansion into the region.

Below we have listed some of the reasons why:

1. Welcoming to International Startups

South Korea welcomes high potential startups through startup initiatives and by establishing Free Economic Zones (FEZs). This has opened up commercial pathways for expanding into South Korea whilst ecosystem players like Rainmaking help accelerate time to market.

2. Major Trend & Tech Testbed

Consumer trend-sensitivity and strong purchasing power makes South Korea an ideal market for global brands wanting to test and refine new products and technologies, giving rise to the idea that where the “Korean-wave” goes, the rest of the world follows.

3. Global Innovation Hub

South Korea has produced 17 unicorns and has topped the Bloomberg Innovation Index for seven of the nine years that it has been published. More to the point, South Korean conglomerates are enthusiastically working with startups in a variety of ways, including partnerships, equity investments and M&A.

4. Strong Government Support

The government plays an active role in promoting and nurturing the local startup ecosystem and boasts some of the world’s most generous grant funding programs for entrepreneurs. The K-Startup Grand Challenge, which invites and incentivises foreign entrepreneurs to set up up shop in South Korea, is one such program.

5. Growing Despite COVID-19

South Korea’s 4% growth rate in 2021 is expected to remain robust through 2022 and 2023. Under the Korean New Deal, the government is investing $133bn to accelerate the transition towards a digital and green economy, creating a host of new opportunities for startups from around the world.

6. Proximity to Key Asian Markets

Located in the centre of Northeast Asia, South Korea acts as a launchpad for accessing 2 billion tech-savvy potential customers – an ideal location to enter and expand for startups.

Startups and SMEs interested in entering the South Korean market can contact us to learn more about our South Korea program and the application process.

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Written by
Meghan Bridges
March 24, 2022
Marketing Director, Rainmaking Expand