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Why Korean Startups Need India _ 3.

작성일자 2018-04-05 17:36   수정일자 2018-04-05 17:37

The Korean Startup Ecosystem’s Development 


as the “3rd Way” 


Why Korean Startups Need India Part. 3



6db88cd59587c6ca7c70df44188426e4_1522917389_2447.jpg 


▲ Steve Cervantes Konkuk Univ.




The series’ previous two parts established why Korea and India need to bridge their ecosystems; part three will examine how Korea and India can create the initial stage toward an everlasting and dynamic nexus between the ecosystems.  


Korea, recently awarded as the world’s most innovative, the world’s best vertically integrated companies, and experience as one of the 20th century’s greatest “rags to riches” economic miracles, can contribute to India’s multitude of developmental problems.  


India, on the other hand, brings far superior software expertise, a market almost unsurpassed anywhere globally, and Silicon Valley success and prestige which Korean startups have yet to achieve.


The startling revelation is that heretofore Korean startups have had little Indian exposure.  “Korean startups are basically nonexistent at startup events and I attend hundreds of events each year who I do see are numerous Chinese and Israeli startups participating and eventually investing in India”, says startup activist and CEO of 59 Seconds, Paritosh Sharma.

  

He goes further saying: “I find it baffling Korean startups’ tepidness for India given their inherent advantages over China and Israel:  Korea can use Facebook, YouTube etc. for marketing, where they are blocked in China—China uses WeChat and other platforms, but few Indians use them; Samsung’s ranking first in smartphone shipments and Hyundai’s second ranking in the passenger car market shares in India have set a precedent in excellence and prestige, which China and Israel do not have and a small domestic market necessitates Korean like Israeli startups to think globally—accordingly India should be a market priority.”

 

What is more, as aforementioned T-Hub is India’s largest and soon the world’s largest incubator, it “has yet had any Korean startup participation” since its formation in 2015, says T-Hub’s Director of Innovation Cluster Shanta Thoutam: “however, we are anticipating Korean participation in the future.” 


Indeed, about the only notable Korean startup with significant Indian exposure is “DOT”, a Korean startup which launched a wristwatch for the visually impaired that “uses a moveable braille interface made of magnets and pins allowing users to read or feel text messages.”  The wristwatch enables the blind to affordably participate more in society and the workforce. With the world’s largest visually impaired population, DOT is and will continue to be a great contributor and complementor to India’s visually impaired.


The numerous Indian startup ecosystem men and women interviewed by the writer have all come to ask, “Why hasn’t the Korean startup ecosystem established a stronger Indian presence?” There is not one definitive answer, but perhaps the best explanation is China’s proximity to Korea and its market has fixated Korean business’ focus on it since the Cold War’s end and has relegated India’s as secondary.  


A more disturbing and unfounded reason is “Yellow” journalism and sensationalization of Indian violence where it has been unfairly stigmatized globally. The violence in   India, like other countries’ violence, tends to disproportionately affect the poor and not foreign businessmen and tourists per se.  Koreans generally state safety issues as a reason for not investing in India.   Point in fact, safety issues should not be a reason for precluding Korean startups from entering India. 



A consensus of Indian ecosystem members has made the following recommendations as initial steps toward bridging the ecosystems:


Exchanges, exchanges, exchanges.  All Indian ecosystem members whom I interviewed unanimously believe Indian-Korean startup ecosystems’ relation’s initial stage should begin with exchanges.


Paritosh Sharma would like to see “an ongoing program where you match 20 entrepreneurs from each country in similar or related industries for perhaps two weeks.  Not only can each respective country’s entrepreneurs learn about one another’s ecosystem, but they can establish lifelong relationships that will plant the seeds for future exponential growth between both ecosystems.” 


Sanjay Enishetty CEO 50K Ventures in Hyderabad recommends more grassroots exchanges targeting the youth through internships and student exchanges, viz.  As a bone fide startup evangelist, Sanjay declares he will “help all qualified Korean students try to attain an internship for a specified period.”


Upon receiving the offer and lecturing on the Indian startup ecosystem’s dynamics in my Global Startups course, several students are interested and have inquired about internships—the strong response was encouraging, and this writer hopes that it will set a precedent for more student exchanges.


Sanjay would also like to see Indian students participate in Korean startup internships; of course, for this to happen the Korean government needs to liberalize its student-work-visa policies toward India.


Indian and Korean incubators/accelerators need to consummate MOUs by any means necessary. Incubators/accelerators assist in establishing an affordable presence in each country: workspace, networking, marketing, mentorship etc.


Indian incubator/accelerator workspace ranges from less than 100 to 1000 dollars per month. Some like T-Hub are extremely competitive to enter given their world renown prestige and having hosted and trained some of the world’s best up-and-coming startups.


MOUs could consist of 4+2 or 5+1 joint programs (four months in Korea and two in India or five months in Korea and one in India or vice versa with Indian startups).  This would foster Indian and Korean startups to experience and learn about one another’s ecosystems and prepare them to enter each market.


Demo day competitions only between Indian and Korean startups where the location could annually alternate between them are highly recommended.   Each country could widely promote the event and encourage strong ecosystem participation from VCs, angels, PEs, accelerators etc. This event would not only provide an invaluable experience for those startups competing with networking and potential collaboration but will also give each nation’s ecosystem opportunities they may not otherwise had. 


Both countries respected government agencies need to create offices solely focused on one another’s ecosystems.  Though Korea has KOTRA and the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, these offices are engaged in too many countries and affairs to give proper attention to India.  The offices should assist startups with localized issues expeditiously.




The fledgling Indian-Korean ecosystem nexus is at a crossroads and both nations must immediately implement the suggested strategies to grow their ecosystems.  Being inextricably linked with India is especially critical for Korea whose domestic market cannot solely sustain a growing ecosystem. The 3rd way is the Korean startup ecosystem’s only way. 


As a final note, all who are interested in engaging and entering the Indian market, they may contact the author at the addresses below. 


E-mail : ucla6767@gmail.com

Kakao talk ID : ucla1994


profile_image Steve Cervantes…
스티브 세르반테스(Steve Cervantes) 건국대학교 상경대학 국제무역학과 교수. 한국 스타트업 생태계에 인도(India)가 필요한 이유에 대해 설명하는 시리즈를 앙트러프러너에 3부로 연재할 예정이다.