Tips for Korean Startups

Big Corporate Partnerships

Here are some tips for Korean startups.  First is that it is a really big deal to get a corporate in your cap table early.  It is not necessarily a good thing.  What I mean by “it is a big deal” is that it is a really important decision.  Because there is a signaling effect to being associated with a large strategic from such an early stage.

It makes a lot of sense for corporates to make strategic investments as a company is growing, to open up customers.  But from such an early stage when you are thinking about your customers.  When you are thinking about the constituents you are working with and already being associated with a big corporate, you just want to be really careful about who that is.  As well as what that benefit and tradeoff is early on.

When it Makes Sense

When you are at the growth stage, it can make a lot of sense.  However, when you are at such an early stage, working so closely with a corporate, there is a co-branding element that you need to be really intentional about and sometimes it can be a great thing and sometimes it can be too early for startups.

Korean Startups Going Global

For Korean startups, they need to first be focused on the local market from the beginning.  The important part is to build your team with a global perspective.  So start early in recruiting global international talent that meets a global standard of excellence.  Even for Korean startups focusing on the local Korean market.  This will require a lot more work and you may not have the networks to do it.  Therefore this is whether the accelerator programs can help.  But you need to start building your team with a global perspective from day one.

Join an Accelerator Program

tips for Korean StartupsOne of the best benefits of startups that come out of accelerator programs vs those that do not is that they have this amazing community and alumni network.  As great as the accelerator programs in Korea are, the community that startups get access to and the ability to reach out to other startup founders that are going through the same thing is priceless.  Just the psychological benefit of that in and of itself can really show a difference.  Because those that have a community through an accelerator can really benefit not just in the tangible things but in the qualitative psyche of an entrepreneur.  Being a part of a community and doing this together really is beneficial.

Eric Kim
Eric Kim

Eric J. Kim is a Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Goodwater Capital. Prior to co-founding Goodwater, Eric was a Managing Director at Maverick Capital. Eric has led early and growth stage investments into leading consumer and mobile technology companies such as Kakao (IPO – KOSDAQ:035720),, Zenefits, and Upsight. Eric currently serves on the Board of Directors of Coupang, Memebox, Frank & Oak, Viva Republica, Pager, and Retrica.

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