June 1, 2017 | Polina Kryuchkova Unnyhog is a startup involved with mobile and PC games production. With their goal of penetrating the Korean eSport market, participation in K-Startup Grand Challenge was only natural. “You need to have a strong reason and a plain explanation of why you want to come to Korea” – they say. For those unfamiliar with Asian, specifically Korean, markets, this opportunity was invaluable. What else do they have to impart with potential candidates of K-Startup Grand Challenge 2017? Why did you decide to apply for K-Startup Grand Challenge in 2016?\ The Korean market is one of our target markets for our global launch, so this was a great opportunity to study it. What was your experience of Korea, during the acceleration program? (business perspective) It was quite fruitful. We were introduced to well known Korean game development and publishing companies. Also, we invited a group of Korean students to test our game. What was your experience of Korea, during the acceleration program? (personal perspective) Well, Korea is a very different country compared to other places I’ve visited. It’s really beautiful and sometimes hard to understand. I have to admit the lack of knowing the Korean language was a huge problem for me from time to time, in places like restaurants especially. But, the organizers of K-Startup Grand challenge put a lot of effort in helping us with settling down in the country and making us feel comfortable. What services / support was most valuable during the program? The most valuable for us was support from our mentors from Dev Korea accelerator. What do you see as the main benefits of applying for K-Startup Grand Challenge? The main benefit is the opportunity to come to Korea, make new business connections and, if you will, to set up a company. It’s really much easier and faster than doing it by yourself. What did you find interesting / surprising / unique about your experience in Korea? That the Korean gaming industry, specifically eSports, is developing with the support from the Korean government. Also, it’s quite surprising to see Koreans spending their *lives* on their cell phones. It really looks like people are obsessed with the mobile phone. But, well, it’s a good thing for mobile developers. What do you think are the biggest challenges for global startups entering the Korean market? I think there are a lot of them, but in most cases these challenges are common for different countries. You need to have business connections. You need to know your local competitors and what they are capable of. You need to know the law, if you want to set up a company. You need to understand your customers, their culture and behaviour. Do you think that Korea is a viable ‘test market’ for tech startups in Asia? Why / Why not? If we are talking about the gaming industry, I can’t say that Korea is a good place to start. The quality of customers is excellent, but in order to get them you will compete with huge corporations like Net Marble, NC Soft, Nexon and etc. I would suggest starting in Malaysia or Thailand instead. What advice would you give startups applying for Grand Challenge this year? You need to have a strong reason and a plain explanation of why you want to come to Korea. What should startups that are accepted this year do to prepare for their Korea experience? Learn, at least a little bit of, Korean and be prepared that 3 months is not actually enough. So make a list of companies and places you want to cover. Anything else to add? Yes, don’t bring an umbrella. They are everywhere in Korea!