Gangnam: The Silicon Valley of South Korea

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You’ve heard about Silicon Valley’s tentacles reaching around the world. Now it appears the world is reaching back.

Take the exemplory case of Gangnam, an area in southern Seoul, South Korea. This enclave, which literally means "south of the [Han] river," houses D.CAMP, a 30,000 square-foot entrepreneurship center targeted at startup founders and investors, along with tech developers and designers. The Banks Foundation for Young Entrepreneurs, several 20 local banks, is supporting this new collaborative workspace, along with providing financing, mentorship and business education to entrepreneurs.

D.CAMP, a 30,000 square-foot entrepreneurship center, is part of a project to transform the Gangnam district of Seoul, South Korea, right into a type of Silicon Valley-like innovation hub.

Each bank has committed between $10 million and $20 million to aid Koreans within their 20s and 30s who’ve started ventures within the last 3 years. "Startups are far better at creating jobs, so many people think the Korean future would depend on startups," says Hahn Ryu, D.CAMP’S program coordinator.

So while Gangnam could be a long way from Silicon Valley, D.CAMP’s startups are starting to nab some notoriety within their own right. Here, executives at three South Korean startups share lessons that will help any young treps — even those in the Valley — push into new markets:

Expand your paying clientele. Flitto ‘s been around for less than twelve months, although translation platform already boasts a lot more than 1.3 million users across 150 countries. Its digital program, which gives free, real-time translations for mobile or online content, has included users such as for example Paulo Coelho, the Brazilian writer of The Alchemist , whose tweets sometimes read, "translated by Flitto."

Simon Lee may be the founder and CEO of Flitto, an electronic translation platform that’s located in Gangnam. His face is concealed by a mask of Psy, the singer behind "Gangnam Style."

How does the venture pay the bills? Simon Lee, founder and CEO, sells Flitto’s database — where nearly 300,000 translations are created daily — to bigger companies that produce machine translations of their own. "Those companies are doing word-by-word translations, that are not always correct," Lee says.

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He is earning cash from other businesses, including music labels whose artists want to tweet in various languages with their fans, and daily-deal sites like Groupon whose English-reading customers want local deals translated if they visit other countries. "Every company or service really wants to touch base globally," says Lee, whose business takes about 6 percent of the revenue its partners generate through Flitto’s translation services. He declined to reveal Flitto’s financial results.

Customize your product, in that case your marketing message. Edward Lee, head of overseas development at VCNC, a mobile-app maker launched in 2011, hopes to improve the amount of foreign downloads of Between , a free of charge app that lets two different people — such as for example siblings, buddies or lovers — chat or share photos on a virtual-memo board through a smartphone. To achieve success, he plans to customize both product and the marketing to match people far away.

Jaeuk Park oversees VCNC, the venture that produces apps. The business’s most well-known program, Between, has been downloaded a lot more than 2.8 million times-thanks, partly, to an endorsement by a famous Korean pop singer.

Between has been downloaded a lot more than 2.8 million times, with 70 percent stemming from inside South Korea. The app became popular without much advertising. Instead, the business enterprise plugged Between by planting the South Korean symbol for "commitment" into local blogs and virtual communities. A big coup came last ROMANTIC DAYS CELEBRATION when Block B, a Korean pop singer, released a song that described the app. VCNC declined to reveal any financial results, however the company has reportedly raised roughly $4 million in venture funding.

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Prior to the company decides on a promotion campaign for the U.S. market, it really is revamping the app to target more on fostering "serious relationships," Lee says. One difference: American users want features that are less "cutesy" and more functional, such as for example fewer emoticons and more methods to reach someone you care about.

Showcase products at events to find new partners. Many countries host high-profile industry exhibitions where startups can use, such as for example Mobile World Congress in Spain and Finetech in Japan. FXGear, a visual-effects studio and digital-products maker founded in 2005, chose South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, earlier this season to showcase new wares and make an effort to expand its roster of business partners.

Like other startups from Gangnam, FXGear showcased its products at South by Southwest in Texas earlier this season. Tommy Ryoo, left, heads the business’s sales and marketing division, which is looking to push new visual effects technology in to the United States.

In Korea, FXGear has recently sold its virtual apparel-fitting technology to major online retail sites, so consumers may use a 3D avatar to put on new looks. To expand in to the U.S., the business used SXSW to approach beauty salon chains with a fresh tablet-based feature that lets customers try virtual makeup. In addition, it has continued to advertise to retailers in the U.S. its competent visual-effects technology.

The business, which declined to reveal financial results, says it really is still searching for a business partner to greatly help with expansion plans in the U.S. and aims to come back to America to showcase other services at events. For example, "we’ve plans to build up a mirror, and in the event that you stand before it, you can observe your reflection and put on garments by clicking the icons in the mirror," says Tommy Ryoo, FXGear’s sales and marketing director.

What innovative methods perhaps you have use to expand right into a new market? Tell us with a comment.

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