December 06, 2019

Exit Daejeon 2019 ingrains international mindset in Korean startups

PUBLISHED : May 22, 2019 - 16:40

UPDATED : May 27, 2019 - 15:50

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DAEJEON -- For Seoul-based startup Directional, an hourlong trip to Daejeon was definitely worth it.

Eyeing its domestic launch in June, the startup believes international exposure will help take it to the next level. And it had a taste of what that was like at EXIT Daejeon 2019, which offered one-stop startup counseling with foreign startup community builders to pitching session. 

Booths are set up insude an exhibition hall at Exit Daejeon 2019 on May 22
Son Ji-hyoung/The Investor

“The South Korean market is a good test bed for our platform as ultimately, our goal is to tap into the global market within the next two years,” Pillip Youn, head of blockchain division at Directional, told The Investor on May 22 on the sidelines of Exit.

Exit is a three-day startup conference featuring Finland-based Slush. It is being co-hosted by Daejeon Metropolitan City, Herald Corp., Daejeon Center for Creative Economy & Innovation and CEO Clubs Korea.

Directional says it’s off to a decent start, as its blockchain-powered stock borrowing platform marked South Korea’s first blockchain technology to be given approval for joining the nation’s regulatory sandbox program.

This allowed it to pursue its next destination, such as Hong Kong, Singapore, the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan.

“It would be great if we could get connected to the (international) network,” he said.

PowerPT Chief Innovation Officer Jonathan Moore(right), who judged a pitchingsession at Exit Daejeon 2019,tries a product from a Korean startup Voixatch atan exhibition boothon May 22.
Son Ji-hyoung/The Investor

Meanwhile, for Daejeon-based startup Twinny, Exit served to show that being in Daejeon is not a hurdle, despite the physical distance from Seoul.

The autonomous cart maker has its roots in Daejeon because the majority of its human resources in tech development comes from the nation’s top research university, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, located in the city,

Twinny CEO Cheon Young-seok said conferences like Exit Daejeon 2019 can boost the exposure of provincial startups to investors and product buyers.

“(Exit Daejeon 2019) helped us overcome concerns that being in Daejeon is a problem,” Cheon told The Investor. “We were able to seal a sales and purchase agreement with Chinese buyers and introduce our technology prowess to foreign investors,” 

Slush Head of VC Moaffak Ahmed consults for a Korean startup representative at Exit Daejeon 2019 on May 22.
Son Ji-hyoung/The Investor

Slush Head of VC Moaffak Ahmed, who took part in Exit Daejeon 2019 as a one-stop consultant for startups and judge at pitching sessions, said that Exit Daejeon 2019 helped the Korean startup ecosystem find a need for international exposure.

“(Korean startups) know all the technology,” Ahmed said. “The question is, how prepared they are to go to international markets.”

He called for local startups to have a global mindset, regardless of the domestic market size, taking Finnish startup ecosystem as an example.

“(Korean startups) first think they need to build businesses here and then go abroad, whereas in smaller countries like Finland or even smaller countries in Europe, they are so small that they go international from day one,” he said. “We had to go international from very early on.”

Junction Global Head Antti Hammainen consults for a Korean startup representative at Exit Daejeon 2019 on May 22.
Son Ji-hyoung/The Investor

By Son Ji-hyoung (

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Herald Corporation|CEO : Kwon Chung Won
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