In recent years, South Korea’s startup ecosystem has experienced phenomenal growth, leading to the emergence of numerous successful ventures. Despite these achievements, the startup scene has largely remained focused on the domestic market, indicating potential for broader international engagement. To explore this opportunity, we spoke with Kyungjin Hyung, CEO of BlissVine Ventures – a firm known for its global outlook and accelerator capabilities, at the forefront of this exciting shift. Kyungjin, a prominent figure in the industry, offers invaluable insights into the role of global accelerator programs and how they can be pivotal in propelling Korean startups onto the international stage.


Q1. What steps should Korean startups take to achieve success in the global market?

Kyungjin Hyung: In partnership with the private sector, the South Korean government is setting up a ‘Startup Korea Fund’, projected to reach 2 trillion won (around US$1.51 billion) by 2027. The purpose of this fund is to facilitate the international growth of deep tech startups.  The Ministry of SMEs and Startups (MSS) has introduced the ‘Comprehensive Startup Korea Plan’ accordingly, detailing the strategic approach for entrepreneurship policies over the medium to long term.

As outlined previously, the startup ecosystem in South Korea has undergone considerable enhancement, attributed to the development of advanced incubation infrastructures led by government initiatives. Although government support and a surge in entrepreneurship have created a favorable environment for startups to venture into global markets, the Korean startup ecosystem faces a pressing challenge: the limited number of startups that achieve global success.

To address this, BlissVine Ventures focuses on helping Korean startups secure funding and achieve growth beyond Korea. By leveraging our network of partners across the private and public sectors, including government agencies and business mentors, we aim to navigate the challenges of international expansion and tap into new markets.


Q2. BlissVine Ventures has been selected as a TIPS operator by the Korean Ministry of SMEs and Startups (MSS) this year. Could you explain what TIPS is and how it supports startups?

Kyungjin Hyung: Initiated by the Korean government, the TIPS (Tech Incubator Program for Startups) marks a significant milestone in our national strategy for fostering innovation and entrepreneurship. According to CB Insights, a U.S.-based data analysis and research organization, the TIPS program has been ranked 4th among the ‘Global Accelerators’ programs.

TIPS operates by collaborating with private accelerators and venture capitalists to scout and support startups with groundbreaking ideas and the potential for international growth. Startups selected for the TIPS program receive up to 500 million KRW (approximately 400,000 USD) in government support during their operational period, and those in the deep tech TIPS program can receive up to 1.5 billion KRW (about 1.2 million USD).

Given the competitive and stringent selection process, achieving the status of a TIPS operator signifies a notable professional accomplishment. In 2023, only 105 entities were selected as operators. Being selected as a TIPS operator means that businesses are recognized for their high skill level and commitment in a demanding field. As a proud partner in this groundbreaking initiative, BlissVine Ventures is committed to TIPS’s core objective: identifying and nurturing high-potential startups by providing them with essential resources to succeed domestically and globally.


Q3. Why should Korean startups join a global accelerator program like TIPS?

Kyungjin Hyung: There are numerous benefits to joining a global startup accelerator. 

Firstly, it provides a ready-made network of mentors, investors, and industry experts who can guide startups through the challenges of international expansion. Secondly, global startup accelerators offer funding opportunities, including seed funding from venture capital firms, angel investors, and corporate partners. Lastly, being a part of a global accelerator program helps raise the startup’s profile and increase its visibility in the international startup community, which is essential for successful global expansion.


Q4. What sets BlissVine Ventures apart from other venture capital firms and accelerators?

BlissVine Ventures’ CEO Hyung KyungJin

Kyungjin Hyung: BlissVine Ventures’ strength is our extensive network of private and public sector partners across various industries, including government agencies and business mentors. Leveraging my nearly 20 years of experience working in Korea Technology Finance Corporation, funding over 2,000 technology SMEs with technology guarantee, IP financing, Equity investment, and handling numerous global projects. BlissVine Ventures has developed a strength in discovering and investing in top-notch deep tech startups. We built a diverse network both domestically and internationally early on. Since I founded BlissVine Ventures in 2021, our primary investment targets have been for tech-based startups in various fields over service platforms. From 2023, we focused our investment on ten emerging industries, referred to as the ‘Super-Gap’ areas*. 


* The ‘Super Gap Project’ is a groundbreaking initiative by the Korean government that aims to foster over 1,000 deep-tech startups across ten emerging industries, with an investment of more than 2 trillion won ($1.49 billion) in public-private partnerships over the next five years. The ten supported industries encompass: 

  • System Semiconductor
  • Bio·Health
  • Future Mobility
  • Sustainability/Energy
  • Robotics
  • Big Data/AI
  • Cyber Security/Networks
  • Aerospace/Maritime
  • Next-Generation Nuclear Plant
  • Quantum Technology

Additionally, approximately 47.7% of our investments are in ESG startups, reflecting our commitment to environmental and climate technologies, which are in high demand globally.


Q5. What challenges do Korean startups face when going global, and how can they overcome them?

Kyungjin Hyung: Navigating the global landscape presents a formidable challenge for Korean startups. Companies often misallocate their time and resources when preparing for international exhibitions and buyer meetings. While significant effort is invested in participating in these events to showcase technological prowess, there is a tendency to overlook strategies for impactful engagement during the event itself.  

We have seen many startups frequently encounter obstacles due to a lack of strategic planning, insufficient funding, and limited networks for international scaling. This often results in missed opportunities to establish a robust presence in the global marketplace.

To mitigate these challenges and avoid resource wastage, it’s crucial for Korean startups to adopt a mindset of continuous learning and adaptability, welcoming fresh ideas and diverse perspectives. While programs like TIPS and Accelerators can offer valuable guidance and strategic frameworks, the onus ultimately falls on the startups themselves to apply these insights. It is essential for them to allocate time and resources judiciously and fully leverage the available support and opportunities to maximize their global market potential.


Q6. Building connections outside of Korea is crucial for startups looking to expand globally. How does BlissVine Ventures facilitate this process?

Kyungjin Hyung : For Korean startups aiming to globalize, expanding their network beyond domestic borders is crucial. At BlissVine Ventures, we leverage our extensive global network and in-depth industry insights to assist these startups in establishing vital international connections. This includes facilitating partnerships, joint ventures, and collaborative projects on a global scale.

Drawing from my comprehensive experience in public sector engagements, BlissVine Ventures also cultivates relationships with globally influential entities, encompassing government bodies and international organizations that we have fostered through years of interaction and cooperation.

We are proactively involved in open innovation initiatives with leading Korean corporations and public institutions, and we have plans in place for open innovation projects at an international level. Our global networking capabilities and expertise in international business enable us to match the right partners with the most suitable startups, ensuring mutually beneficial collaborations and expansion opportunities.


Accelerating Growth on a Global Scale with Venture Insights

For Korean startups that aim for exponential growth and want to penetrate new markets, participating in a globally recognized startup accelerator program like TIPS can be a game-changing strategy. These programs are more than mere incubators; they provide a holistic support system encompassing mentorship, extensive networking, access to funding channels, and invaluable interactions with a global cohort of counterparts.

Partnering with world-class accelerators or venture capitalists for Korean startups aiming to expand globally offers concrete benefits. These global platforms provide startups with crucial skills and insights to navigate the complexities of international markets, enhancing their growth and global presence. This expansion contributes significantly to Korea’s economic growth and positions these startups as key players in the global business landscape. Such a move signifies not just business growth but a dedication to innovation and maintaining relevance in the ever-evolving global economy.