Korea TechWeek Series: South Korea’s Startup Ecosystem – Helping Kiwi Tech entrepreneurs enter the South Korean market


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Nicole Upchurch

Chairperson, New Zealand-Korea Working Group, NZTech; General Manager Brand Experience, Centrality.ai

Over the past 15 years, Nicole has helped prepare and transform some of NZ’s largest companies through periods of unprecedented digital disruption and change.
Her feeling is that we are on the precipice of the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) with a tsunami of new (web 3.0) technology about to collide with consumers and business models that will have unparalleled impact on our lives.

She operates as an executive and advisor to a portfolio of businesses operating at the bleeding edge of this digital revolution, covering multiple verticals and markets. The companies she works with are pioneering new business models which includes developing or leveraging 4IR: Artificial Intelligence (Aider, Performance Lab); Blockchain (Centrality, PL^G); IoT (Jasmy, TrackBack); Big Data (Causality); and Machine Learning (IoMob) – with a strong focus on consumers.

4IR will provide tremendous opportunity for NZ’s businesses. Entities which collaborate as part of an ecosystem are more likely to succeed as the tech oligarchs have a significant advantage over us their sheer number of users and data. With that in mind, she brings a fresh approach to governance; with unique and unparalleled expose to both 4IR Tech and new business models we see emerging.

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Jonghyun Lee

Manager, Global Startup Team, National IT Industry Promotion Agency (NIPA)

The National IT Industry Promotion Agency (NIPA) devotes itself to reinforcing the competitiveness of the ICT industry and contributes to economic growth through the efficient support of and laying the groundwork for industrial technology promotion.

The K-Startup Grand Challenge is a startup accelerator program conducted and financed by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups and NIPA. The program is an initiative to support foreign startups that want to enter the Korean market. The program has been promoting Korea as a leading startup business hub since 2016.

Jonghyun Lee is a Manager at NIPA – Global ICT Industry Division / Global Startup Team. As an ICT and start-up specialist, he is currently working for the K-Startup Grand Challenge as a marketing and open-innovation manager. He majored in media engineering and social welfare in college and finished a master's degree in international development. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in international development.

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Jordon Monnet


Nr2 is a search engine that finds the most promising start-ups for investors. It enables informed decisions about technologies globally and gives local entrepreneurs the best chance of succeeding across borders.

Jordan Monnet is one of France and China’s 40 under 40 in AI. Jordan’s background is a combination of academia (PhD in Biophysics and Master’s in International Finance from HEC) and business where he built a data science team for a management consultancy firm and worked for a Beijing-based fund structuring and implementing data-based market entry strategies for Western technology companies.

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Solomon Moos

Director, French Tech Seoul; Head of Asia, Idinvest

Solomon Moos is heading the Korean office for Idinvest Partners and leads our investor relations activity in Asia. Based in Seoul, Solomon is a French-American binational and speaks Mandarin fluently. Before joining Idinvest Partners in July 2016, Solomon worked at Allianz Global Investors, as part of the Business Development department in charge of RFPs for international institutional clients. Before that, Solomon was an RFP Manager at Edmond de Rothschild Asset Management.

Solomon holds a master's degree in Financial Engineering from the Sorbonne University, France, and a Diploma of Chinese Language and Culture from the University of Hainan, China.

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Marta Allina

Founder, Seoul Startups

Seoul Startups is the biggest international startup community in Korea, with 1,300 members and growing. Based on the principles of inclusivity and diversity, it offers a safe space for networking and discovering the Korean startup scene, while adding a global splash to the local ecosystem. Community mentoring programs, expert panel discussions, networking events and insights into the tech industry are just some of the things offered.

Marta Allina (Poland) originally came to Korea 12 years ago as an exchange student. Having graduated from Yonsei University Business School, she worked for a few years for THE corporation, before deciding to pursue the path of a community builder. She is now part of weave, a collective of changemakers engaged in social impact projects, like ASAN SANGHOE, and is running Seoul Startups, Korea's biggest international startup community.

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Lin Hwang


DamoGO is a mobile app that helps restaurants, bakeries and grocery stores efficiently sell the day's perfectly good, unsold food instead of letting it go to waste. It aims to be an all-one-one superapp to give any food that shouldn't be wasted a second chance by tackling the food waste problem across every level of the food industry.

Lin Hwang, CEO of DamoGO, is a Korean-American who has been working as an entrepreneur for 13 years in all levels of the food industry – In food processing, distribution and import/export, and he also exclusively imported the American restaurant franchise "The Halal Guys" into Korea. Lin has worked closely with U.S. government food trade organizations, consulted American food manufacturers to export their products into the Asian market and was named 2011 Small Business Exporter of the Year in the state of Maryland.

Lin has a B.A. in Economics from The Pennsylvania State University, an M.B.A. in Marketing and Management from Fordham Business School, and also studied at Peking University's Beijing International M.B.A. program (BiMBA). He has been living in Korea since 2015.

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Eunse Lee

Managing Director, Techstars Korea Accelerator

Techstars is the global platform for investment and innovation. Founded in 2006, Techstars began with three simple ideas—entrepreneurs create the future, collaboration drives innovation and great ideas can come from anywhere. Today our mission is to make innovation accessible to everyone, everywhere. We do this by connecting startups, investors, corporations, and cities to create a more sustainable and inclusive world.

Eunse is a founder-turned investor and the Managing Director at Techstars Korea Accelerator. Prior to joining Techstars, he founded a Los Angeles-based VC firm ELEVEN:ZULU CAPITAL to invest in early stage tech companies in the spaces of AI-powered enterprise software, human-device interfaces and frontier technologies. He also taught strategy and entrepreneurship as an adjunct professor at Yonsei University and Yonsei Global MBA. Eunse started his professional career in corporate and business strategy and work with multiple global Tier 1 companies in IT, FMCG and automotive industries, and also advised multiple agencies and institutions of the Government of Korea on formulation and execution of the strategies for the "Creative Economy."

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