What is the most important thing a Korean VC is looking for when looking to invest in a startup business?  Is it the business model? The potential for global expansion?  The finance?  No.  The answer is you.  The VC is looking to invest in you, the entrepreneur.  Many Korean VCs are clueless when it comes to tech or startups in general.  What they are putting money into is the entrepreneur, which is why it is crucial you sell them…yourself.  So what makes you so special?  What do Korean VCs look for in an entrepreneur?

Here are the top 5 things Korean VCs look for in an entrepreneur.

  • INTEGRITY – There are a lot of con men in Korea.  People that are looking to cut corners and sell snake oil.  Korean VCs want to know you are a straight shooter.  Most Korean VCs know that they don’t know the details of running a smart up so they are putting their faith in you.  A good way to show your integrity is to show your passion for your business.  Passion is very hard to fake and if a Korean VC sees that you are very passionate about your company he will believe in the company and in you.
  • EXPERIENCE – Korean VCs really want to know that you have done this before.  It is recommended that entrepreneurs in Korea worked with the big conglomerates and the Korean government.  Most of all VCs want to see that you have experience taking a startup from beginning to end, this shows commitment.  Even if it wasn’t a success, most Korean VCs know that there are a lot to learn from failure.  The Korean culture of looking at failure as a “true failure” is changing.  Learning from your mistakes could be more valuable in some aspects.  With experience, you gain knowledge which is something money can’t buy.
  • VISION – The entrepreneur has to show that he or she has great vision.  Most Korean VCs what to invest in a company that can go global.  The Korean market is too small to really interest most Korean VCs.  They are looking to expand outside of Korea and if you can show your vision of a global company, you have succeeded.
  • WILL – When starting a startup in Korea there will be many obstacles that might come up.   Korean VCs want to know that you will not quit at the first sign of adversity.  Having the will and the drive to keep moving forward and not quitting is something Korean VCs want to see during your pitch.  So I would recommend you show rational projections and let the VC know the possible obstacles and how you will handle them in the future.
  • FLEXIBILITY – The ability to listen and take advice is crucial.  Korean VCs want an entrepreneur who is open-minded and coachable.  Most Korean VCs had many years of investing in startups and they have some knowledge they can share with you.  This is why you need to convey to them that you can listen and pivot when necessary.

During your pitch you will need to show that you have all 5 of these traits.  Pitching is like telling a story.  You need to have a hook to get their attention and the story needs to build to a climax.  Talk about the marketplace, statistics, and case studies, etc.  Have believable upside and vision don’t be patronizing while you do it.  Finally, make sure your PPT is filled with more images than words.  This is something Steve Jobs taught us during his iPhone PPT presentation.  A picture is a thousand words.  So here is a check list of what needs to be in your PPT pitch.

  • Company Logo
  • Business Overview
  • Team
  • The Target Market
  • The Product/Service
  • Partnerships
  • The Competition
  • Financial Overview
  • Capital and Valuation

Tell them this story in an upward story arc, ending on a high note.

2 Comments

  1. Chris Pipo
    May 13, 2017 at 12:49 am — Reply

    Thank you very much, John Yoon, for this article. I am foreigner currently finishing his undergraduate degree in the United Kingdom.

    I have high wishes of moving to South Korea and forming a startup in the near future.

    Many thanks again 🙂

    • August 16, 2017 at 9:20 am — Reply

      No proboem Chris! Hope your startup is a success

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