8 rising Korean startups to watch in 2018

An unprecedented number of promising startups with revolutionary ideas appeared in 2017. They emphasized basic skills and prepared themselves for further growth this year. Platum selected eight promising startups that display the energy and innovations within the Korean startup field.


Platum comment: 1conomy services will receive huge attention in 2018

■ Veluga is a homemade beer subscription service. Experts expect to see 1conomy (Economy trends for single-person households) services expand and become more important in 2018. Since South Korea breeds some very deep and widespread drinking culture, a 1conomy service, Veluga, is already very popular with everyone particularly those single-person households, newlyweds and mothers who rarely go out because of kids-care. South Korea breeds some very deep and widespread drinking culture. Despite shutting down when online alcohol orders and deliveries were restricted, Veluga resumed its service through a partnership with a late night meal delivery service. If Veluga is able to grow its business in 2018, consumers will likely benefit from a wide range of craft beer and wine delivery services. The market also expects Veluga to receive new rounds of funding for its 2018 operations and development.

Main Issues
2017-10 Resumed service
2017-07 Discontinued its service due to government regulations
2017-03 Veluga was established


Platum comment: No need to call, write, or open your excel sheets for beauty shop reservations and payments anymore.

Heybeauty is a salon reservation app and a killer app for women. South Korea is well-known for its thriving beauty industry. In the past, beauty shop owners had to keep careful records, write down tons of information, and receive countless calls in order to operate their businesses. Now their lives are much easier, as Heybeauty can handle all salon reservations. The app has been around for a few years, and beauty shop owners who use it report high levels of satisfaction. Most users spend between USD 100-200 per salon appointment via the app. Now the company is expanding its business to dermatology and plastic surgery hospitals.

Main Issues
2018-01 Opened an exclusive pop-up store in Lotte Department store Jamsil
2017-06 Raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Mashup Angels
2015-05 Heybeauty was established

LooxidVR :

Platum comment: This company is expected to gain greater market attention in the global technology industry.

LooxidVR is a VR research kit that develops an eye tracking cameras and brain-wave sensors that will record and analyze users’ eye and brain activities. LooxidVR attracted public attention when it made it into TechCrunch Disrupt in 2017. It was one of only a few Korean startups that have participated in the competition over the past ten years. In 2018, LooxidVR will devote all its resources to developing the interface that will generate VR-led research content based on a person’s emotions and physical reactions, such as pupil dilation. LooxidVR also received the Best Innovation award in the VR category at CES 2018 in Las Vegas, USA. Experts expect to see LooxidVR grow quickly.

Main Issues
2016-09 Raised an undisclosed amount of funding from three investors including Entrepreneurship Foundation
2015-02 Selected for TIPS program (The Korean government’s startup investment program)
2015-02 Raised USD 94,000 from Future Play
2015-01 LooxidVR was established


Platum comment: After solving issues with government regulations, BUXI is expected to perform well in 2018

BUXI is a vehicle-sharing startup that connects travellers to airport passenger vans. Vehicle sharing platforms face two major obstacles: regulations and fierce competition. However, BUXI does not have to worry about regulatory pressure, since the Ministry of Transport’s new stance towards the industry has granted the startup improved market access. Therefore, experts expect BUXI to soon be profitable.

Main Issues
2017-09 Raised an undisclosed amount of funding
2017-06 Raised an undisclosed amount of funding
2016-07 Selected as ‘The first penguin startup’ by the Korea Credit Guarantee Fund
2016-07 Raised an undisclosed amount of funding from the city of Seoul
2016-05 Selected as one of up and coming startups by Gyeonggi Creative Economy Innovation Center
2016-05 Selected as one of ‘Seoul’s excellent travel startups’
2016-04 Launched its service
2016-01 Raised an undisclosed amount of funding
2015-10 BUXI was established


Platum comment: Poolus has created a new model to satisfy ride-sharing suppliers and consumers

Poolus is a ride-sharing app that became very popular in 2017. Poolus connects drivers with people who need a ride. Users select their location and destination, and the service then links them to drivers nearby who are driving in the same direction. Taxi drivers cannot sign up for Poolus. The business model is similar to that of Uber Pool.

Seoul is one of the most crowded cities in the world, and there are over 80,000 people working in the city’s taxi business. The Ministry of Administration and Legislature embraces business model innovation that will help solve the city’s traffic problems and people’s travel concerns, since the government has failed to come up with efficient solutions to enhance city management and provide more jobs. As ride-sharing has become more popular, a war of attrition between taxi drivers and the City Hall of Seoul has begun. It will be interesting to see how Poolus deals with regulations in 2018.


Main Issues
2017-10 Raised USD 206 million from investors including Naver
2016-04 Launched its beta service in Seongnam-si
2016-03 Poolus was established


Platum comment: The app is popular in 121 countries, as it allows young people to express themselves online.

Amazer is a K-pop video battle app for K-pop lovers. Amazer was founded in 2017 and has become extremely popular among K-pop fans throughout the world, as it is now available in 121 countries. The app satisfies people’s desire for self-expression, and it is most popular among teenagers and young adults. Amazer’s growth has been driven by its organization culture and its employees’ strong teamwork.

Main Issues
2017-12 Selected as ‘The India App of 2017’ by Google Play
2016-06 Amazer Lab was established

Platum comment : ” MOIN attracted a lot of attention in the international remittance industry after foreign exchange laws were revised and cryptocurrency fever swept the country.”

MOIN is an international remittance app that makes use of blockchain technology and makes it faster and cheaper to send money overseas. After foreign exchange laws were revised in July 2017 and cryptocurrencies became more popular, many people are now interested in making international remittances. MOIN provides its services in Japan and China and has been growing 138% per quarter on average compared to the previous year. MOIN is now preparing to acquire a licence for providing international remittances according to the revised Foreign Exchange Transactions Act. MOIN proved its strength by raising USD 1.9 million from investors, including Capstone Partners, at the end of last year.

Main Issues
2017-12 Raised
 USD 1.9 million from 6 investors including BA Partners
 its service in China
2016-10 Launched
 its service in Japan
2016-07 Raised
 USD 470,000 from 4 investors including D.Camp
2016-04 Raised
 an undisclosed amount of funding
2016-03 Raised
 an undisclosed amount of funding
2016-03 MOIN
 was established

Deep Medi :

Platum comment: “Deep Medi allows users to check their blood pressure by using smartphones.”

Deep Medi is a startup that showed it was possible to check someone’s blood pressure with a smartphone. Deep Medi has much potential, as it will likely expand its services to measure various biomarkers using smartphones. Deep Medi raised an undisclosed amount of funding from D2SF last year and used the money to expand its business. Deep Medi also won the 6th Chung Ju Yung Startup Competition.

(Top photo from 699pic.com)

This article, entitled “8 rising Korean startups to watch in 2018”, was written in Korean by Platum, translated by Hazel, edited by AllTechAsia.

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