The K-Startup Grand Challenge is a startup accelerator programme held every year in Seoul, Korea, supported by the Government of South Korea. Launched in 2016, it offers startups from all over the world a fantastic global platform to break into the Asian market using Korea as a launchpad. South Korea, conveniently located in East Asia, between China and Japan, with Hong Kong and Taiwan to the south is a great location for startups. With 154 accelerators and innovation centres (as of March 2019) as well as 143 co-working companies, Korea provides an upper hand in hi-tech research, electronics manufacturing, connectivity, quick consumer consumption of new services and more.
Shortlisted startups from 2019 cohort
This year witnessed massive participation from startups with solutions across AI, logistics, biotech, robotics, beauty wearables, gaming, urban solutions, and more. The South-Asian region received over 43 startup applications from India, Sri Lanka, Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Nepal, Pakistan, UAE, Uzbekistan, and Palestine that were shortlisted to take part in a live pitch session across three days to a jury panel of 8 members from the Indian startup ecosystem.
Following the live pitching round, here are the four promising startups who have the opportunity to enter into the robust Asian market.
1. MicroX Labs
Founded by Prakhar Jain, Usama Ahmed, and Prabhat Kumar, MicroX Labs has developed a platform for disposable cartridge-based products that can be used for multiple applications, such as a cartridge-based flow cytometer. The platform can be repurposed to applications that require cell counting and classification.
Ankit Lehra and Mohammed Zaffer founded Incubig in 2017 to solve the biggest threat to innovation: patent infringement. Based in Gurgaon, they are creating customised IP profiles of individual innovators and startups to provide 360-degree patent analytics relevant to their product/technology. Their unique analysis algorithms, patent-pending AI engine and result enhancement mechanisms enable them to deliver results of the highest quality, in a short time and at an affordable cost.
3. Aibrid Importers and Distributors Private Limited
Aibrid imports multi-category products and commodities in India. Founded by Naveen Peter and Rony J. Palathinkal, they closely work with B2B buyers in India and source products from global manufacturers and suppliers. Their platform Export.com is an AI-based export distribution channel for exporters to introduce/promote products to Indian buyers, and receive large-sized import orders from India.
4. Xenon Automotive India Pvt Ltd
Xenon Automotive was founded by Venkat Sreeram and Sharath Murthy to revolutionise the entire automotive lifecycle and create a truly connected experience for the customer. They have an app called ClearQuote that uses images or videos to determine the extent of damage on a car and instantly generates repair estimates.
Seoul awaits the startups
The startups get access to a grant of up to $100,000, free office space, one-on-one mentoring, expert support, state-of-the-art R&D labs and the opportunity to work in the Global Startup campus. They also get to attend information sessions and coaching on Korean and Asian business culture as well as consultation on topics like patents, accounting regulations, tax laws, and more. There will be constant networking sessions, where startups can interact with large Korean companies for potential partnerships. That’s not all. The participants also receive funds to cover their living expenses during the 3.5-month-long accelerator programme in Korea.
Participating accelerators can also make equity investments in the most promising startups. Everyone’s a winner at K-Startup as startups have access to other VCs and investors who may choose to invest in their idea. At the end of the acceleration programme, the government will host a Demo Day in December 2019 to felicitate the top startups. The 1st prize will receive $100,000, 2nd prize $40,000, 3rd prize $20,000 and 4th prize $6,000.