Many Playbooks for Korean Startups
I feel all Korean startups should be thinking globally. But at the same time, I have recently been investing in companies that only focus on the Korean market. Companies that are serving the local consumers like SOCA or POOLUS that do not have any global expansion plans yet. But we believe there is a sizeable market that only focuses on local markets. It is ok to dominate the local market and then delay the globalization until later. It is always good to pay attention to what is going on and see what other startups or big tech companies around the world are doing. There are diffidently many playbooks or lessons that can be learned.
Korean VCs vs U.S. VCs
The biggest difference between Korean VCs and U.S. VCs which I learned at Collaborative Fund is the focus on the profitability earlier on given the lack of capital available with Korean VCs. Most of the startups in Korea are pushed to get to the profitability much faster than the States. This changes the whole dynamics and the group projections. All in all, I’ve seen more and more companies in Korea and I guess also in Asia that has been more focused on the growth side at the sacrifice of getting to the profitability with some outside capital coming into the Asian market.
We invest at the early stage of seed and series A. It ultimately comes down to the people on the team. Which is why I always prefer to meet in person so if there are any travel plans coming to the city of New York or San Francisco. I have invested in three companies in Korea. One is Lendit a p2p personal loan company that deals with alternative lending.
Another one is Poolus which is kind of like the Lift of Korea which I have actually never met in person until recently. However, I’ve heard great things about them from our Partners. So having strong recommendations from our co-investors means a lot to us especially for the international market.