Seoul in recent years has emerged as one of the world’s leading centers of tech startup innovation, with factors such as excellent infrastructure, an abundance of entrepreneur-focused environments and business resources, and venture capital from both South Korean and foreign firms enabling local tech startups to go head-to-head with the best and brightest from Silicon Valley.
From customer loyalty platforms to AI-powered finance platforms, here are 13 tech startups from Seoul you need to know about in 2017 and beyond.
Dano’s motto is “be the best version of you”—and the company offers a comprehensive selection of services to help dieters do just this. The startup offers its own exercise apps, video workout classes, and diet foods.
Viva Republica is the developer of Toss, a mobile payments app that streamlines South Korea’s outdated online banking system into one offering. The company received funding in 2017 from online payments giant PayPal to expand its operations.
CoinManager is a mobile app that allows cryptocurrency aficionados to trade over 1,600 coins on 65+ exchanges. The app also features engaging charts, orderbooks, alarms and more.
Spoqa’s solution replaces customer loyalty stamp cards with an in-store tablet and accompanying app that allows customers to accumulate Dodo Points for free stuff—no apps or registration required. The solution is being used by 10,000 merchants and over 12 million users in South Korea, which translates to 1 in 4 people.
The number of practicing attorneys in South Korean is on the rise—especially with new law school graduates entering the workforce and foreign law firms hiring local professionals. Law&Company’s app taps into this deep pool of available legal expertise, allowing users to consult with lawyers in real-time, check trial dates, and more.
Smartstudy is the developer of the Pinkfong and Baby Shark franchises, the latter of which has over 1 billion views on Youtube. Starting from online videos and apps, the company is now offers a full suite of entertaining and educational children’s apps.
WITH Innovation is the developer of Yeogieottae( Korean for “how about here?”), the top-rated travel app that has become a hit with twenty-somethings. The startup booked 140 billion won—or $118.9 million—in reservations for 30,000 accommodations last year, and claims 1.85 million active users a month. The company is now focusing on using VR, AI, and IoT to develop staytech offerings that give customers a more comprehensive travel experience.
AIM has developed an AI-powered finance app that works alongside existing banking institutions to allow users to make trades and investments via their smartphone. The company is focusing on the South Korean market with plans to expand to other parts of Asia.
Dunamu is the developer of News Mate, an app that allows users to read digital copies of Korean newspapers and magazines via their smartphone or tablet. The company also offers Stock Plus, a stock tracker app for use on the popular Kakao messaging platform.
Zikto’s Arki walking posture and activity coach was a hit on Kickstarter; the company is now venturing deeper into healthcare, working with insurance companies, hospitals, and health officials in developing new tech and healthcare platforms. For example, its “D2B” (device-to-benefit) service model connects IoT devices with online and offline wellness services.
Tridge’s finder network and trade platform connects suppliers with buyers through collaborations with freelancing professionals—market and industry experts who identify and meet demand in various markets. The company boasts almost 30,000 finders in 139 countries across the globe.
MINDsLab is developing an AI platform that caters to health care and education services, along with developer tools to utilize this technology. The company also offers a portable AI-powered speaker called Ascar, akin to an Amazon Echo for cars.
SEWorks is the developer of AppSolid, a cloud-based cybersecurity solution that protects developers against hackers and ensures the integrity and reliability of apps. The company—founded by seasoned white hat hackers—has been a finalist at the popular hacker convention DEFCON five times.
In short, these 13 South Korean tech startups are giving their Silicon Valley-based competitors a run for their money—be sure to keep them on your radar in 2017 and beyond.