Korea has always been dominated by conglomerates such as Samsung and Hyundai. However, times are changing as more and more startups find success in Korea. One of the biggest success stories is Yello Mobile which is considered the Y-Combinator of Korea.
Founded in 2012, Yello Mobile is a mobile business platform/VC firm operating in shopping, media content, marketing & advertising, travel, and O2O business. It has already more than 65 startups under their umbrella and the company is now worth over $4 billion. These startups help each other in regards to payments, resources, and shared costs.
It was clear in 2016 that Koreans had enough of these chaebols (conglomerates). There was the nut rage incident with Korean Air as well as the scandal involving Samsung’s heir Lee Jae-Yong. More and more Koreans were looking to support startups more than ever before. Startups have started to partner up with other startups rather than chaebols. Many talented entrepreneurs have left chaebols to start their own companies looking to change the working culture of Korea. As more and more Korean startups formed new alliances with other startups, the opportunities for growth were seen.
Funding for startups in Korea is low compared to China or America, however even with the little funding gotten by these Korean startups were able to succeed. Why? Simple, they didn’t have to jump hoops and go through a lot of red tape that would typically happen at a chaebol. Korean startups were able to execute quickly and efficiently which is crucial in an ever-changing tech industry. The new mobile era meant that decisions needed to be made right away and executions needed to prompt. This is how Korean startups are able to be one step ahead of the chaebols. Yello Mobile capitalized on this. They bought shares in these Korean startups but did not interfere with how these startups ran their business.
Yello strictly invested in all things mobile and was able to stay ahead of the ever-changing pace in the smartphone era. Since being founded they have raised close to 400 billion won and has over 3,500 employees. Currently, Yello is nowhere near Samsung in regards to sales, product, or services but the way they run their business is showing great results. Yello has the potential to become something they might not necessarily want to be…a conglomerate.