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Startups

D.CAMP ramps up support for Korean startups' foray abroad

Mar 24, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

D.CAMP Executive Director Kim Young-duk at his Mapo office Mar. 22 (Photo by Young-woo Kim)
D.CAMP Executive Director Kim Young-duk at his Mapo office Mar. 22 (Photo by Young-woo Kim)

D.CAMP, the largest non-profit foundation for startups in South Korea, plans to offer enhanced support for local startups' eyeing overseas expansion alongside increasing investments to facilitate the growth of the country's startup ecosystem.

“Even if their chances of survival are a bit lower, we’re going to search for more startups offering mind-boggling ideas,” said Kim Young-duk, the executive director of D.CAMP, in an interview with The Korea Economic Daily on Mar. 22.

Kim has his sights set on innovative startups with the capability to create a whole new market, such as iPhone's Apple.

Director Kim joined D.CAMP last month. He is a former entrepreneur, having co-founded the e-commerce platform Gmarket, which became the first Korean online firm to go public on the Nasdaq. Kim is also well versed in angel investments and the startup ecosystem given his past roles at Lotte Accelerator and Lotte Data Communication Company.

According to Kim, D.CAMP has a large pool of resources and the advantage of being able to support startups in a timely and flexible manner as it is a privately held organization. Under Kim's management, the foundation will concentrate on finding promising startups and nurturing them to log a valuation of over 100 billion won ($882 million) instead of focusing on unicorn companies.

“Unicorn companies are conceived by markets. For us, we aim to boost the startup ecosystem in Korea by fostering hundreds of startups that can reach an enterprise value of over 100 billion won,” said Kim.

EYEING VC FIRMS WITH A STRONG TRACK RECORD

“We will prioritize VC firms with a successful track record so that they can concentrate on investing,” said Kim.

According to Kim, many VC firms spend nearly the same amount of time and money gathering resources as they do on finding startups with strong potential. Director Kim plans to roll out an indirect investment method in Korea that will enable VC firms with a successful investment history to raise funds easily.

So far, D.CAMP has invested around 433.8 billion won into around 23 funds.

Kim also plans to actively assist startups hoping to tap into overseas markets via setting up a new model for overseas expansion, similar to the approach taken by domestic general trading companies behind the country's export boom.

“Until now, there have been various shortcomings in assisting Korean startups’ foray abroad, such as providing them with only basic contact information for overseas opportunities," said Kim, adding that the foundation is considering adopting a method that will aid startups from market research to product or service launches.

Founded in 2013, D.CAMP has been fostering startups via both direct and indirect investments. Around some 18 domestic banks and the Korea Housing Finance Corp. have invested a total of 845 billion won ($746.4 million) into the foundation.

D.CAMP works with leading VC firms in Korea to offer various support programs. Earlier this year, it was reported that via its support for startups D.CAMP generated around $6 billion in economic value, including 32,523 jobs, over the last three years.

Write to Joo-wan Kim at kjwan@hankyung.com

Danbee Lee edited this article.

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