Google, on an international mission to rapidly connect with the global startup community, has recently announced that it will open a startup campus in Seoul, Korea next year. This comes at a time when Korean entrepreneurs are beginning to prove that they have what it takes to make an impact, as exemplified by a statement from Google’s Bridgette Beam: “Korean innovators and entrepreneurs are some of the best in Asia, and Korean startups are making headlines around the world, especially in the mobile space. We want to support this booming community of entrepreneurs.”
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As part of Google’s Campus network of entrepreneur spaces, Campus Seoul will be home to a variety of resources, including mentorship and training from local professionals and Google teams. It will also house programs such as Campus for Moms, CampusEDU, office hours with Google mentors, and will provide international opportunities, including exchange programs with other Campus locations.
Campus Seoul is not only joining the London, Tel Aviv, and newly announced Warsaw and Sao Paolo locations as part of the Campus network, but also Google for Entrepreneurs, a larger Google-sponsored network of programs and organizations around the world.
The planned Seoul campus will not be Google’s first attempt to engage with Korea’s entrepreneurs though. Google for Entrepreneurs has previously partnered with Global K-Startup, KStartup, Startup Weekend, and Startup Grind to put on various programs for the local startup community.
Google’s announcement comes at a time when overses interest in the local Korean statup scene is building. Altos Ventures of Sandhill Road, Silicon Valley have recently closed a large Korea-focused fund. They are beginning to bet big on Korean founder’s ability to beat out foreign firms in their local market and achieve billion dollar valuations. in a model example of this in practice, Sequoia Capital recently invested $100M in an Altos portfolio company that recently hit a billion dollar valuation. Coupang , a local ecommerce player effectively beat Groupon in the Korean market and is now eyeing up even larger global opportunities. In another example of Korean startup success, TapJoy recently snapped up Korea game analytics statup 5Rocks. 500 Startups is also aware of emerging opporunities in Korea and aim to set up a permanant base in th country in the next few months. And Y Combinator recently accelerated its first Korean company, Memebox, who have seen breakaway success in Korea and are now looking to replicate this in overseas markets, starting with the US.
What is interesting to note is that Korea’s largest tech conglomerate, Samsung, has been noticably absent from involvement with Korea’s startups. While a small team has been formed recently to investigate if, how and when Samsung should engage local startups, there are serious questions about the conglomerate’s dedication to the local scene and to innovation at all. Tied up in conservatism and tradition, Samsung may find itself left behind as global forces beat them to the punch on their home turf.