Seven big deals for Korean startups worth over 10 billion won in April 230 billion won in total

In April, the total investment for startups in 34 cases is worth 229.7 billion won 

In April 2019, there were 34 investments in startups and 229.7 billion won (about US$193 million) – only 21 cases where the amount was disclosed. This year’s investments in startups totaled 515.1 billion won (about US$432.8 million): in January, 152.9 billion won (about US$128.4 million), February 70.7, billion won (about US$59.42 million), March, 618.8 billion won (about US$520.1 million) and April. For the first half of last year, the biggest investment attraction was in April with 1833.6 billion won (about US$1543.6 million). In the monthly investment inducement amount alone last year, the amount is the largest except for December (44 companies 577.9 billion won, about US$485.5 million) and October (52 companies, 3497.4 billion won, about US$2947.4 million).

Seven companies have emerged this month that attracted over 10 billion won in investment. Companies including Kurly (1 billion won), Sua Lab (19 billion won), Minds Lab (17.3 billion won), Delicious (16 billion won), Class 101 (12 billion won), Wag (11.5 billion won), and BoMapp (100 billion won) were listed. In addition, Swingvy ($8 billion), Yamtable (7 billion won), and ICE CREATIVE (6 billion won) also attracted over 5 billion won in investment.

2.9 billion won to 156 billion won in sales in 4 years of Market Kurly

The biggest investment attraction in April was to Kurly (formerly “TheFarmers”), the operator of mobile premium Market Kurly, which was worth about 100 billion won (about US$84 million). The deal put an end to rumours of its sale, which emerged because of the widening deficit. 

Major domestic and foreign investment firms, including Sequoia Capital China, participated in the investment round again. Market Kurly will focus its investments on maintaining quality of service. The government plans to strengthen its position in the early morning delivery market by using it to upgrade the logistics system, manage the supply chain for cooperation with producers and expand manpower for stable operation.

Market Kurly started with 2.9 billion won (about US$2.4 million) in sales in the first year of 2015 when it first launched the service and increased to 156 billion won (about US$131 million) last year, its fourth year, marking about a 50-fold growth. The number of Market Kurly members stood at 2 million as of March 2019, or half of the total households in Seoul. In addition, the maximum number of orders per day recorded were over 33,000 in February 2019, showing remarkable growth in utilization. However, Market Kurly is growing in deficit as well. The cumulative deficit for Market Kurly amounts to 60.2 billion won (about US$50.5 million).

The company faces over 10 billion big deals

The company that attracted the next largest amount of investment was Sua Lab, which produces Deep Learning Machine Vision software SuaKIT. Sua Lab has attracted 19 billion won (about US$15.9 million) worth of investments from Series C made in acquisition of Repayment Conversion Preferred Stock (RCPS). The accumulated investment is 31.4 billion won (about US$26.4 million), the largest amount among AI startups in South Korea. Five participants in the investment round included Stone Bridge Ventures, Softbank Ventures, DS Asset Management, Intervest, and Intops Investment. Sua Lab plans to use the investment bid to gain a more aggressive market lead in deep-learning-based manufacturing machine vision and to attract talent for it.

Minds Lab, which specializes in artificial intelligence, has attracted 17.3 billion won (about US$14.5 million) worth of investment in Series C. A total of eight companies including IBK-NH Small and Medium Business (PEF), Q Capital, Hana Financial Investment, Small Business Bank, BNK Capital, and ETRI Holdings participated in the investment. Minds Lab will use the investment to strengthen its R&D capabilities, expand existing business capabilities such as AI hybrid contact centers and advance into overseas markets.

The second ‘Maru180’ will be established in Gangnam

A new startup support space will be established. In a press conference to mark the fifth anniversary of the opening of the Maru180 in the second half of 2020, The Asan Nanum Foundation announced its blueprint to open the second floor in the second half of 2020 and to increase the number of startups it supports by about three times. The Asan Nanum Foundation, along with the Maru180 operation, has participated in creating a fund worth about 900 billion won (about US$756 million) through a total investment agreement of 32.6 billion won (about US$27.3 million) so far, and 634 startups have been invested through these funds. In addition, up to now, it has donated about 1.4 billion won (about US$1.17 million) to 64 organizations that organize events, education, and conferences related to startups.

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