This past Friday marked the final day for the Overseas Talent Entrepreneurship Conference (OTEC), in which more than 450 startups from around the world gathered to present their business models, and network with Chinese venture capital firms and government agencies. The annual event, now in its fourth, was hosted by the Chaoyang district government in Beijing.
For the first time, a total of nine Korean startups participated in this year’s conference. Of the nine, Bluegold (Bon Hyun Kim, CEO) and VCNC (Jae Wook Park, CEO) finished with impressive results, winning second place and fourth place respectively. The two startups’ achievements received more attention, as only five out of fifteen startups that made to the semi-final were non-Chinese. Bluegold is a production startup that produces superhydrophobic sprays. VCNC is the developer of Between, a private messaging platform built for couples.
Both startups have a fair chance of success in the Chinese market. Bluegold offers several types of super hydrophobic sprays that meet different customer needs. For example, TexDry W (for textiles), SuperClear (for car windows), and NeverWet (for other home products) are few of its products well known among its fans. Bluegold continues to expand its customer base by entering the U.S. market in 2013. Its product line appeals to Chinese consumers who are increasingly purchasing luxury goods worth protecting from water, such as watches, designer handbags, and clothing.
Between, a private and secure social networking platform for couples, could also be appealing to Chinese users. The app has received positive attention from other non-Korean media. Between is largely recognized for targeting the market for closed social networking platforms, at a time like today when an increasing number of privacy issues arise from public social networks such as Facebook or Twitter.
China is considered as an attractive market with its scale and its growth opportunities, and a number of Korean startups attempts to penetrate the market. It is also a challenging environment given the language, cultural, and regulatory barriers. Yet, a number of Korean startups are putting a collective effort to share information and promote each other’s success. For instance, twelve Korean startups participated in TechCrunch Beiing 2014 while a separate Korean booth was installed in TechCrunch Shanghai 2013.
Jung Su Lee, the CEO of Flitto, the winner of 2014 Idea Show, claims that collective efforts among Korean startups is helpful to penetrate China market where personal networks are crucial. In fact, Korean startups were able to participate in OTEC with helps of Yong Ho Kim, the CEO of Malang studio, who has established a strong network in China.