Dealbook: 2400 startups apply for Korean acceleration programme, Check It wins startup awards

Close to 2500 global startups have applied for the K-Startup Grand Challenge, the first international acceleration programme by the South Korean government.  Meanwhile, Check It, a Vietnamese book reading app, has won a trip to Silicon Valley and another to Singapore for Muru-D Accelerator’s selection.

Over 2,400 startups apply for K-Startup Grand Challenge

More than 2,400 international startup companies from 124 countries have applied for the K-Startup Grand Challenge, the Korea’s bid to diversify its startup ecosystem by offering an international acceleration program, inaugurated this year.

Initial assessments are taking place to select 80 startups that will travel to Korea for a week-long pitch camp from August 17 to 23. Sponsored and organised by South Korea’s Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, the 40 startups then accepted into the program will participate in three months of acceleration.

One step in that direction was building a $160 million startup campus, where the K-Startup Grand Challenge participants will have free office and lab space. Other perks for participants include round trip flights for three team members, assistance with visas, monthly stipends for living expenses and mentorship from major Korean tech companies.

After the initial three-month acceleration program concludes with a massive demo day, the top 20 startups will have opportunities for additional grants and investment, and be invited to stay in Korea long-term.

“Overwhelming evidence suggests that innovation is borne from diversity. For example, more than half of billion dollar startups in the US were founded by immigrants. The K-Startup Grand Challenge is one step towards creating a more diverse business environment in Korea,” said Dr. Ahn Changyong, official spokesperson for the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, and the K-Startup Grand Challenge.

Also read: Korea: K-Startup Grand Challenge offers support, funding for international startups

Vietnamese book reading app Check It wins 2 contests

Check It, which allows users to read the content summarisation of books, has won two local contests within 10 days. As a result, the company has won tickets to Her Startup Global Competition in Silicon Valley and another trip for the selection round of Muru-D Accelerator in Singapore.

Check It, founded by a team of three, attended the first SoGal Vietnam Summit on June 11 and scored a Silicon Valley trip — all in a few months. SoGal Vietnam is an event supported by Tigers@Mekong, a US initiative, to empower women entrepreneurship in the country.

On June 20, it won over five other teams to be accepted in the interview round of Telstra-backed accelerator Muru-D’s second cohort in Singapore.

“In Vietnam, one person reads only a book per year on average, due to loads of work, distraction or the rise of social media. We solve this issue by offering users the ability to read 80 per cent of the contents within only 20 per cent of the supposed time to finish a book,” said Nguyen Kieu Linh, a co-founder of the team.

Check It has attracted 5,000 users, Linh said.