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‘If Cyworld had been a global hit, Facebook would have faded’

Experts call on Seoul to breed global mindset among startups

Startup Accelerators and CEOs, who participated in Start-Up Seoul event’s Policy Forum session on Thursday, called on the government to encourage South Korean startups to go global and expand their presence overseas.

“If Cyworld had been a global hit, Facebook could have become redundant,” Korea Accelerator Association chairman Lee Jun-bae said. “But that didn’t happen.” 

Korea Accelerator Association chairman Lee Jun-baeStart-Up Seoul
Korea Accelerator Association chairman Lee Jun-baeStart-Up Seoul

Hwang Yoon-sik, the CEO of food catering startup Fooding Kitchen also called for more flexibility, citing how he was surprised when he partnered with Uber, which had strict nutrition standards for partners catering food to them, but at the same time, understood the different local needs of food and was willing to accept that. “This flexibility is what Korean startups lack,” he noted.

The experts underlined that education for entering the global market is necessary for Korean startups. “I participated in a global startup program at Singularity University and found out they focus on fostering good leaders,” startup Do More CEO Kim Hyun Sun said.

“In Korea, it was hard to find any program like that. There are only classes about how to become better in marketing and improve one’s financial status. I think Korean startup leaders should participate in global programs more.”

Kim added that startup leaders should try harder to become fluent in English, as there are great many opportunities and programs overseas.

Kim Jung-ha, a co-founder of startup accelerator Openwater Investment, agreed that she could not find any program for startups that want to go global in Seoul’s Startup Hub center.

The professionals also noted that this education is crucial for a startup at the beginning stage.

“It is usually difficult for a startup that has already grown and has a firm ground in the local market to be flexible and suddenly adjust its system to countries in the global market,” local accelerator Company A CEO Jo Byung-hyun said. “This is why startups should plan their global strategy from the very beginning.”

Hosted by Seoul Metropolitan Government, Start-Up Seoul will run until Friday.

By Song Seung-hyun (