Don’t be surprised by how easy it can be to plan an overseas trip these days.
A quick Google search will bring up hundreds of results for visa applications, flight tickets, and even full itinerary suggestions, among other things. Just imagine yourself there: the smell of foreign food, the buzz in the local community as people go about their day, and the glow of an unfamiliar sunset.
Photo credit: jopanuwatd / 123RF
But now, let’s talk business.
Simply put, a Google search isn’t going to get you very far, if anywhere, should you want to expand your startup overseas. There’s a laundry list of things to consider – such as market behavior and supply chain logistics – and even if you do know what you’ve got to do, it’s not often the case that you actually know how to go about it.
Your best option is to get help and advice from people who have been there and done that – which is why Dcamp launched a series of events called Meet Korea, which is aimed at startups that look to expand to South Korea.
Created in 2013, Dcamp is a South Korean startup hub that invests in early-stage tech firms and provides them with working facilities. Its Meet Korea events aim to help startups learn more about South Korea and how to go about entering the market.
We spoke to Saerom Im, global team lead of Dcamp, to find out more about the initiative.
The following interview has been edited for clarity.
What was the inspiration for Meet Korea?
South Korea’s startup ecosystem is exceedingly strong, and Seoul in particular is currently the 10th-best city – among 130 – in the Global Financial Centres Index. With strong technological infrastructure, highly skilled talents, and a fast-paced business environment, it is an attractive place for rising startups.
However, it is not an easy market to penetrate due to visa issues, language barriers, and market knowledge, among many things.
The same problems also apply to South Korean startups. Even if a company were to do well in the local market, there are many barriers for it to succeed in the global arena.
Dcamp saw this as a chance to create a win-win situation for both South Korean and overseas startups, and Meet Korea is our first step in creating an active dialogue and a funnel between both sides.
Saerom Im (center), global team lead of Dcamp, along with several Indonesian investors / Photo credit: Dcamp
By attracting overseas players, we can enrich the South Korean startup ecosystem and promote a more global outlook, which ultimately supports startup growth in the mid to long run and helps in overall job creation.
Another reason for creating this funnel into South Korea is to attract firms for Dcamp’s global startup funds. We’ve partnered with SparkLabs, Golden Gate Ventures, Translink Investment, and other investors with patient capital for early-stage companies, regardless of where they’re from.
We feel that these funding resources are important and relevant in the global market, which is why we want to open up an avenue to access them through Meet Korea. Eventually, we want to have additional programs where we can invite local venture capitalists as well.
How is Meet Korea different from the other events you’ve organized?
Meet Korea is the first program attended by a large number of Southeast Asian startups. There have been monthly startup demo days – also known as “Ddays” – with several foreign startups, but none of the events have been of this scale.
Meet Korea participants getting acquainted with each other / Photo credit: Dcamp
It’s also organized in collaboration with Dcamp’s many global partners. For example, for the Singaporean leg of Meet Korea, we cooperated with government institutions such as Enterprise Singapore and the Singapore Fintech Association. We also had private partners such as KB Financial Group, Global Start-up Immigration Center, and Tictag.
How was the event received by attendees?
Here’s what Kevin Quah, CEO of Tictag, had to say: “I felt like the event was well-received by the attendees and they found the whole session very informative, since it shone a lot of light on both the administrative and cultural aspects of doing business in Korea. The networking session afterward was also really popular with all the participants – you could tell that no one wanted to leave afterward.”
What were some of your main considerations when organizing Meet Korea?
We were conscious of how the event could turn into a lecture, with only one-way communication. With that in mind, we had to ensure that we created an environment that encouraged dialogue between both South Korean and Singaporean businesses.
How did you overcome those challenges?
Partnering with organizations like Enterprise Singapore was a great help as they work closely with Singaporean businesses that are interested in expanding abroad. This allowed the content and sharing to be based on a lot of actionable insights and experience, which led to more specific advice rather than just general information.
Just one of several informational sessions organized for the event / Photo credit: Dcamp
Additionally, one of our other partners, Infocomm Media Development Authority, introduced us to Tictag, which is a Singaporean firm that’s operating in South Korea. Because our participants could see a fellow Singaporean company that had pulled the expansion off successfully, this encouraged them to participate actively during the event, especially at the networking session.
What sessions or topics do you want to highlight to our readers?
One of the things the participants learned about was how our Dday event can help startups connect with the Overall Assistance for Start-up Immigration System, the startup immigration arm of South Korea’s Ministry of Justice that handles the issuance of D-8-4 startup visas to foreigners.
Through this connection, overseas firms can expedite the process of expanding to the South Korean market.
It’s really important because visas are one of the main issues that foreign entrepreneurs face when trying to set up their business in the country. Having a way to ease this process gives them the peace of mind to focus on managing their operations.
Now that the event is over, what are you working on for the future?
After Singapore, we are planning to hold further Meet Korea events to engage with entrepreneurs and startups in other Southeast Asian countries. We’ve got our sights set on Indonesia right now and it’s currently in the planning stage. We’re excited to see what we can bring to the table.
Southeast Asia is often referred to as one market, but each country is highly different from one another. We are positive that startups from each country in the region have something unique to contribute to the global startup ecosystem. We hope they consider Dcamp as the primary point of contact for South Korean expansion whenever they need to reach out for help to get things moving along.
Established in 2013, Dcamp is Korea’s first-ever startup hub. It actively invests in early-stage startups and helps entrepreneurs realize their business goals. If you’re based in Indonesia and are interested in learning more about the South Korean market, sign up for the Meet Korea event here.
SIGN UP HERE
This content was produced by Tech in Asia Studios, which connects brands with Asia’s tech community. Learn more about partnering with Tech in Asia Studios.