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Korean startups and foreign investment with Inbae Lee of Kakao Ventures Updated: 2021-08-04 17:18:11 KST

Korea currently has 15 unicorns - that is, unlisted startups that are valued at over 1 billion dollars.
What is interesting though is that the majority of them are invested by foreign investors rather than local ones.
The industry estimates that about 90-percent of the capital that runs Korean startups come from foreign venture capital firms.

Today we'll be talking about this issue with Inbae Lee, Principal Associate at Kakao Ventures Corp, an independent investment subsidiary of Kakao. Thanks for joining us in the studio.



Some major local startups that we've heard of such as gaming company Krafton and fashion e-commerce platform Musinsa are invested by Tencent and Sequoia Capital respectively. Fintech company Viva Republica which owns Toss and travel & accommodation app Yanolja have both received investment from the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation. Yanolja also succeeded in attracting 2 billion won from Softbank. These are just a few examples among the many.

They say these startups were able to grow into unicorns with such large sums of foreign investment. Why are Korean startups seeking foreign capital rather than local? What are the advantages?

On the investors' side, what makes it attractive for foreign venture capital firms to invest in Korean startups?

What about Korean venture capital firms - do you prefer to make investments outside of Korea? Are there any challenges or hurdles that discourage you to make local investment?

Woowa Brothers set up a joint venture with Delivery Hero in Singapore and Yanolja Cloud's headquarter is also in Singapore. Other than the Silicon Valley, it seems that Singapore is an attractive location for startups looking to set up their headquarters overseas. What is it that makes Singapore appealing to Korean startups?



That was Inbae Lee of Kakao Ventures speaking with us today about Korean startups and investment. Thanks for your insights.
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