The Circle: Founders Club successfully accelerates 13 South Korean startups in India as part of their APAC cohort
The team is also working on bridge programs for Indian startups looking to expand in South Korea and other Asian markets.
The Circle: Founders Club (The Circle FC), a business accelerator for early-stage startups in India (a portfolio company of Hunch Ventures), in collaboration with the Korea Institute of Startup & Entrepreneurship Development (KISED) has successfully assisted a batch of 13 high-potential South Korean startups to explore synergies in the Indian market.
SchoiceHabsida, Urock Inc, Rezi, WhoseGoods, Wordvice, PiQuant, PowePlayer, DenQ, LabSD, Kairos, Mirinae, HiLokal, and You Need Character were the 13 Korean startups selected in the program, who boast of some innovative products and services ranging from Edtech, Healthtech, E-Commerce, AI, and Cybersecurity. This was a 16-week-long market discovery and entry program offering a go-to-market engine to validate, scale and provide access to business and distribution partners for the startups to establish their base in India.
India and South Korea partnership is broad-based and cuts across various sectors. Bilateral trade between the two countries has touched an all-time high figure of USD 25.8 billion during the year 2022 (January-November). It’s a 9 percent jump over the previous year’s figure of USD 23.7 billion despite the world witnessing slowing global economic growth due to surging inflationary and economic pressures, and subsequent interest rate hikes.
As the accelerator partner in India, The Circle FC has provided a thriving ecosystem for learning, peer knowledge exchange, hands-on assistance, and network building for the entrepreneurs. They have helped these companies comprehend the fragmented and convoluted Indian market, understand the competitive landscape, as well as how to navigate the regulatory, tax, and legal environment. They organized deep dive sessions to discuss hiring and local human resource practices for their current & future recruitment needs.
During the course of the program, the startups signed 23 MoUs, went through 650+ hours of mentoring, more than 150+ one on one meetings, participated in 15+ top-tier events such as NASSCOM Product Conclave (NPC), DIDAC India 2023, Expodent 2022 (Mumbai), and other ecosystem meet-ups. The offline Demo-day of the program was held at The Circle.Work in Gurugram on 10th November and saw enthusiastic participation from various stakeholders including some notable startup investors.
Commenting on this Nemesisa Ujjain, Project Director of The Circle FC said- “Expanding a business in a new market is an exciting but challenging experience. Our program is designed to provide relevant information, tools, and connections to assist entrepreneurs in navigating this process. We customise our offerings based on the stage and needs of the founder and their teams”.
“We are very happy and proud to be a part of these startup’s journey in India and facilitate them with all the means possible to flourish their venture in the Indian market” she added.
During the onsite part of the program in India, these startups were housed at The Circle.Work, Gurugram a tech enabled workspace that has over 70+ companies including some very successful startups that operate from it. This gave the South Korean startups an added advantage to be amongst and integrate into the local startup environment.
The Circle FC team is also working on bridge programs for Indian startups looking to expand in South Korea and other East Asian markets.
Rajiv Bathla, CEO of The Circle said- “We believe that the best way to drive innovation and build lasting, successful businesses is to provide startups with the resources they need to turn their vision into reality. Through our accelerator program, we try to provide Startups with access to a network of mentors and investors, and strive to create an environment where founders can find all the support they need.”
India is becoming an attractive destination for South Korean startups that are eyeing overseas expansion, given the country’s vast population and diverse markets offering rich opportunities for potential investors. With the rising popularity of K-culture such as KPop, Kdramas, and K-beauty, Indians are very welcoming of Korean products and want to experience them. As a facilitator, we clearly see exciting growth opportunities for both Indian and South Korean companies to work together and complement each other.
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