October 8, 2011
While Korea’s startup scene is quietly gaining momentum, a media company called OnSuccess is busy helping Korean startups gain inroads overseas.
“Korean startups are really talented guys, and they know how to make their business successful in the Korean market,” says James Jung, who worked on the business side of Korea Telecom for 8 years. “What we need is some interest in Korean startups from overseas to encourage them to move forward.”
OnSuccess tries to cultivate that interest by publishing news about startups in Korea and abroad. Started in May 2010, it also introduces startups to a global audience through content-sharing agreements with media partners like Singapore’s SGEntrepreneurs. OnSuccess has held pitching days and networking parties, and they are discussing a partnership with Strong Ventures to provide money for the winners of an upcoming demo day.
And Jung isn’t stopping there; he hopes to become a channel to siphon startups into Asia, Europe, and the United States – for example, by getting their apps distributed through the US site AppBackr or Europe’s AndroidPIT.
But the success of Korea’s startup community is still in question. Most troubling to Jung is the strong mindset of selfishness and competition, rather than collaboration, that he sometimes witnesses – people think primarily about building up themselves and their own companies.
While this may not come as a surprise, it is certainly a threat to a young startup scene. So Jung is pushing for a spirit of genuine connection instead. “In Korean culture, we like jeong, a sweet heart for other people to help them without gaining money. It’s some kind of long-term relationship, deeper friendship,” he says. But this means that the community must follow through with explicit plans – action rather than talk – to become a well-oiled network of private investors, incubators, government, and startups-turned-mentors.
And the same may be true for companies trying to break into Korea. Here, too, Jung sees an opportunity for a connector: a company that would help international companies collaborate and develop lasting relationships with small businesses there.
OnSuccess, above all, is also a connector. “It’s time to get to know what’s happening in South Korea,” Jung says.
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