Statistics show that 90% of startup founders in Korea are men. However, there has been a strong group of female entrepreneurs that are great role models for future female entrepreneurs to come. This is most important in regards to tech startups as there is a large gap between male and female in relations to tech and sciences. The opinions based in this article are based on opinions by the SeoulSpace staff.
10)Alix HyeWon Park, MarketingCrew
After working for IGA Works as a Director, Alix HyeWon Park started her own startup called MarketingCrew Company which is an insight crowdsourcing platform that is dedicated to the Southeast Asian market. Marketing Crew helps Korean startup’s successfully market in 6 SEA countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam. Many Korean startups realize that the Korean market can only get you to a certain limit. However, they don’t have the channels or the networks to expand outside of Korea. This was a problem that Alix wanted to solve. Targeting Southeast Asian consumers would be the most optimized starting point for Korean startups that are looking to go global.
9) Minkyung Kim, Luxbelle
Minkyung Kim is the former Strategic Marketing Manager for Samsung. After leaving Samsung she joined the Girls in Tech’s Seoul chapter and became their director by 2014. Now she is the founder and CEO of Luxbelle, a Korean based lingerie e-commerce startup. Luxbelle creates customized fitting bras from lingerie designers and brands from all over the world. They are able to do this with their innovative, simple, and convenient measurement features. Using big data to create the perfect-fitting bras have made Luxbelle a huge success in Korea and MinKyung Kim could soon be the leader in female lingerie wear.
8) April Kim, Chatting Cat
April Kim a former IBM consultant and marketing manager decided to get into the Korean startup industry. She founded Chatting Cat in 2012, an online editing service for non-native English speakers. Basically, Chatting Cat corrects broken English. April got the idea because she herself was worried about making business mistakes trough emails. She would send her work to a native English speaker who would correct her work. She realized she was a much productive worker because of this. This gave her the idea for Chatting Cat. Chatting Cat was a huge success in Korea and was the winner of Google Award in 2012 Global K-Startup competition. She has done many presentations all over the world including London and Silicon Valley.
7) YJ Min, Konolabs
YJ is the former director and product developer at Daum which is Korea’s second biggest web portal. She started off as a programmer and was the 7th hire at Daum. During her stay at Daum, YJ helped incubate startups and got to know a lot of up and coming entrepreneurs. In 2014 she founded Konolabs, which is an automated personal assistant. She is also a partner of Mashup Angels. Konolabs has been a great success as AI and big data is a very hot industry at the moment. Konolabs manages your schedule for you and will end up being a major time saver for users. It is still in beta at the moment but it has gotten funding from 500 startups and taken part in 500 startups accelerator program. She recently pitched to TechCrunch when they came to Seoul for a pitch competition and took home the top prize. Now she is on her way to London and hopefully attract more investors and get global exposure.
6) Jenna Lee, AIM
After Jenna Lee Co-founded and organized Startup Springboard, an intensive entrepreneurship immersion program. Jenna Lee founded AIM which is an automated investment management platform. AIM wants to create Korea’s very first robo-advisor for investment management. She has a background in engineering, investing, and management consulting which is something you rarely see in females in Korea. Jenna is looking to break down the stereotype that woman can’t succeed in the financial sector which is dominated by men in Korea. It will only be a matter of time before machines start taking over the financial market and Jenna wants to be at the forefront of this movement.
5) Sophie Eom, Solidware
After working for AXA Global Direct Korea as a CFO. Sophie Eom c0-founded Solidware which is a FinTech startup that builds machine learning-based models to provide much more accurate forecasts. Sophie Eom is considered one of the top experts in the field of Fin Tech and how machine learning can be improved to a new level with the advent of AI. Sophie is responsible for managing the entire business of Solidware, this includes not only sales but business development. Using machine learning and big data to forecast business risks is the future of Fin-Tech and Sophie is leading the way in Korea.
4) SungUn Chang, Yolk
SungUn Chang graduated from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago in 2012 and brought her talents into the Korean Startup industry with her lightweight and paper-thin solar charger that people can fit in their notebooks called Yolk. This “Solar Paper” can charge an iPhone 6 in 2.5 hours and an outlet is not needed….just a sunny day. Over the years Yolk has made many improvements to its product and thanks to SungUn the design of Yolk and attracted the main stream customers who don’t want to bring around bulky and unappealing devices. SungUn wanted to bring a product which would look good in any outgoing situation. Chang has learned over the years not to compete with the big companies but rather to find a less developed industry and that is what she did. Solar energy is clearly the future but many big companies have not adapted to this reality. SungUn not only has broken into a whole new market but did it in a relatively short amount of time. What Yolk has in store in the future could be a game changer in the Solar Energy industry.
3) Kim Ka Young, Hotel Now
Hotel Now was developed by Bonolabs. Bonolabs was established in early 2013 but really got on the Korean Startup map in 2014 with Hotel Now, a hotel booking app. Hotel Now is the brain child of CEO Kim Ka Young who saw there was a problem that needed to be addressed. She and her college friends thought of the idea for Hotel Now and with the help of developers created a mobile application. Hotel Now has become a huge success since many Koreans were tired of paying for overpriced rooms. Hotel Now offered the best deal possible even if it was a booking for that same day. The app has passed 1 million downloads and continues to grow. The future looks bright for Hotel Now as they plan phase 2 of their plan which is to target the Asian market outside of Korea. With Kim Ka Young leading the way the future looks very promising.
2) Hyemin Lee, Finda
Hyewon Lee is the former project manager at STX corporation and got inspired by her network of startup entrepreneurs. She decided to join Rocket Internet and co-founded Glossybox. Then she created People & Co. Ltd which is an e-commerce and marketing consulting startup. In New York she came across an AI healthcare startup Noom and brought them to Korea. With her network she was able to raise $30 million and Noon became a top-grossing app in the healthcare sector. She has been an advisor for 500 Startups as well as Goolge. Her newest startup Finda a fin-tech startup has already raised $1.5 million. Finda offers the best financial products based on big data analysis.
1)Hee-eun Park, Altos Ventures
Hee_Eun Park has been a part of the Korean startup scene for many years. She is considered one of the top experts in investments for startups. She is the former co-founder and CEO of IUM which is one of the largest mobile dating service in Korea. Currently she is a Prinicpal at Altos Ventures which is a Silicon Valley venture capital firm that raised the largest Korea-focused fund in history by a US venture firm. Altos Ventures helps spot mobile and consumer tech companies for their $170 million Korean fund. She has won many awards for her creative work. This includes a first place prize at the KOTRA Global Venture Awards. She feels that with more women than men using social media and e-commerce, it would be a benefit for any company or startup to include more woman at the top executive positions.