At the start of 2015, I did something that would have seemed insane ten years earlier: I launched a startup in Seoul, Korea, as a Brit.
When I arrived in Korea in 2004, the nation was developing very rapidly, but it wasn’t seen as the world leader in consumer technology that it is today. Samsung and LG were on the way up, but the big names in cell phones were still Motorola and Nokia.
I didn’t have the benefit then of the K-Startup Grand Challenge and the potential of landing $100,000 in grant money — more about that down below.
However, over the decade that I’ve lived on and off in Korea, it has become a world leader in technology, advanced manufacturing, and even culture. And since 2013, it has started to emerge as a startup hub in Asia as well.
Having seen Korea’s transformation over the last ten years this makes absolute sense:
- Korea is safe, highly developed and stable, while boasting all the excitement you’d expect from a leading global metropolis.
- Internet speeds are off the charts. 4G LTE penetrates even the remotest parts of the country and the deepest subway tunnels and 5G is just round the corner.
- The high level of education, especially in STEM fields, has helped fuel the success of tech giants and billion-dollar unicorns like Kakao, Coupang, and Yello Mobile. Now many of those with exceptional academic qualifications are looking towards entrepreneurship as a viable career.