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Startup investment trends in South Korea in Nov.: USD 39M in funding – mostly in ecommerce and high tech fields

Photo from Baidu Images.

In November, 26 Korean startups succeeded in landing USD 39 million total in funding. Six startups in high tech and four startups in ecommerce have received invested.

Accumulated amounts this year are USD 77 million in October, USD 16 million in September, USD 31 million in August, USD 56 million in July, USD 97 million in June, USD 36 million in May, USD 20 million in April, USD 69 million in March, USD 38 million in February, and USD 22 million in January.

Here are some highlights of the startup investments and merges in November.

Photo from Baidu Images.

MyMusicTaste, Althea and Siksin received funding

MyMusicTaste, a crowd concert organizing platform, received the largest amount of funding this month. MyMusictaste announced that another round of funding was made by KTB Network, Stone Bridge, and Yellow Dog. Accumulated amount of funding that MyMusicTaste received is USD 23 million.

MyMusicTaste, established in 2011, allows fans to request concerts by their favorite artists, and allows organizers to see the demands directly from the users. They ultimately organize concerts with artists that music fans request in the city where fans are. As opposed to the existing process of organizing concerts that artists and management companies decide when planning international tours, ticket buyers and music fans can ask their favorite artists to come to their city.

1,230,000 music fans now use MyMusicTaste to go to concerts and over 99% are from overseas. Since the release of the service, over 140 concerts were made in 32 cities. Popular international acts like Dream Theater, Machine Gun Kelly, The xx went to new cities for concerts through MyMusicTaste. 41 concerts were successfully organized this year and 100 concerts are the goal for next year. Through the investment, MyMusicTaste will push harder to organize concerts in various genres and accelerate their data analysis technology. Offices in LA, Europe, and Southeast Asia will be launched within this year.

Althea, global digital beauty platform, also raised USD 7.4 million as series B round of funding by Korean Industrial Bank and more investors in Korea and overseas. Althea is operating a beauty platform which is available in South East Asia and the United States. The company was established by Daeup Kang, CEO of Althea, with two other founders–Christopher Cynn, ex-director of Ticketmonster, and Jae Yoon Kim, a Wharton graduate. 160 brands and over 4,000 different products are available on the platform, making it a bridge for Korean brands to go global.

Lastly, Siksin, a restaurant-recommendation app, recently raised USD 4 million in funding from HB Investment Inc. The accumulated amount of funding that Siksin has raised now stands at USD 9 million.

Siksin allows users to leave honest feedback on restaurants and recommend places to eat. Currently, more than 50,000 restaurants are registered on the app, and more than 2.5 million people use the platform each month.

They developed and are operating two other products. One is a mobile meal ticket service for companies called Siksin e-Sikgwon and other one is Siksin Hero. Siksin uses Alipay payment methods mainly for tourists from China and hopes to become a comprehensive food tech platform.

As of now, 150 companies made up of 50,000 people are using the service. The platform aims to have more than 450 companies and 500,000 users by next year.

Samsung Electronics and SFC acquired startups

There were two corporations who acquired startups this month. Samsung Electronics announced on Nov 28 that they acqui-hired a AI technology startup called Fluenty. It is the first case of Samsung Electronics acquiring a Korean startup.

Fluenty, an AI technology based startup of natural language understanding, was established in 2015. lets you build a chatterbot. It was realised as the first bot builder in Korea. Smart reply functions with messenger were commercialised with the Fluenty app. Fluenty raised funding from Global Brain and Innobase after they succeeded in landing funding from a technology startup accelerator called Future Play. Fluenty was selected by a program that supports startups ran by Samsung Electronics’ mobile communication division, Creative Square, then naturally the team drew attention from Samsung Electronics and it’s core development team.

KOSDAQ-listed company, SFC, acquired Villy, a P2P fintech startup. Villy is now an entirely owned subsidiary of SFC.

Villy recently announced: “This is the first case of a fintech startup getting acquired by a listed company. It will be a great opportunity to grow into a large P2P financial platform by using the infrastructure, financial strength and professional management of a listed company.”

Founded in April 2015, Villy currently has provided its customers with cumulative loans of USD 76 million, including 36,000 investments from 5,460 investors. 55.4% of the investors are in their twenties or thirties.

SFC, established in 1991, specializes in producing backsheets for solar modules. This past August, the company acquired a 100% stake in Donghae Suntech, a company that focuses on solar power plant construction and energy storage equipment (ESS), in order to expand its renewable energy business. Currently, SFC is promoting solar power generation (EPC) projects both in domestic and global markets due to its recent expansion into the renewable energy business.

Sparklabs launches a fund for blockchain-related startups

SparkLabs Group, an accelerator and also a VC fund network, set up a fund for startups in the field of blockchain and cryptocurrency-related companies. It is called SparkChain Capital.

SparkChain Capital is a new USD 100 million fund and will be led mainly by managing partner Joyce Kim, a founder of Stellar, an open source payment network protocol.

This fund, along side SparkLabs Group, will actively invest in blockchain and cryptocurrency startups in many countries. Startups in Asia including Korea, China, and Japan where the blockchain market is growing fast will be of special interest. SparkLabs Group already invested in blockchain startups through its accelerator programs such as Bloko, enterprise-focused blockchain company, and Sentbe, bitcoin remittance startup. Plus, SparkLabs Global Ventures has invested in Cryex, a Swedish bitcoin exchange.

Meanwhile, SparkChain Capital will be focused on investing in cryptocurrency-related startups rather than directly to the cryptocurrency industry and is planning its ICO (Initial Public Offering) at the end of this year. ICO is a fundraising mechanism whereby new projects sell their underlying crypto tokens in exchange for bitcoin and ether.

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This article, entitled “Startup investment trends in South Korea in Nov.: USD 39M in funding – Mostly in ecommerce and high tech fields”, was written in Korean by Platum, edited by AllTechAsia.

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