As the South Korean economy is rapidly changing to the digital economy, startups which are based on the mobile ecosystem with annual sales of more than 100 billion won (US$93.55 million) are starting to spring up.
In particular, online to offline (O2O) services providers show a steep growth in sales. Woowa Brothers Corp., the food-tech industry leader that runs the country's most popular food delivery mobile app “Baedal Minjok,” and South Korea's leading accommodation platform Yanolja Co. surpassed the sales of 100 billion won (US$93.55 million) last year by diversifying their services and pushing into the global market. They are also expected to record the sales of some 200 billion won (US$186.88 million) this year. The Farmers, which operates Market Kurly that converges food with information and technology (IT), is forecast to post some 100 billion won (US$93.55 million) in sales this year for the first time in three years after the establishment.
According to industry sources on April 9, leading O2O startups, like Woowa Brothers, SoCar and Yanolja, all exceeded the sales of 100 billion won (US$93.55 million) last year. Woowa Brothers is highly likely to surpass the 200 billion won (US$186.88 million) mark this year considering the fact that the company saw its sales increase to 162.6 billion won (US$151.88 million). SoCar tentatively posted some 120 billion won (US$112.09 million) in sales last year, while Yanolja posted in some (US$93.55 million).
In addition, all eyes are on whether Market Kurly, which provides a fast delivery service named “Morning Star Delivery” to offer the freshest and the healthiest food by 7 am at customers' front door when customers place an order before 11pm on the previous day, will be able to see its sales exceed 100 billion won (US$93.55 million) this year. Market Kurly posted 9 billion won (US$8.41 million) in sales in January and 10 billion won (US$9.34 million) in March. The company is expected to surpass the sales of 100 billion won (US$93.55 million) this year.
SoCar saw its number of vehicles available for sharing and number of members grow to 8,000 units and 3 million, respectively, as of the end of last year. The company attracted 60 billion won (US$56.03 million) from domestic private equity fund Private Equity on April 4, heralding a significant growth this year again. SoCar is South Korea’s largest car-sharing platform that allows users to book and drop a car at their closest parking lot by using the mobile application. Recently, the IT industry considers car sharing can create a synergy with future growth engines like artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous vehicles so it has been aggressively joining hands with car-sharing service providers.
Yanolja has declared to tap into the global market and is planning to expand its services to Japan and China by the end of this year. The company is also strengthening its O2O services at the same time by building new hotel “Heyy” offline. In regard to the appearance of startups with annual sales of more than 100 billion won (US$93.55 million), an official from the industry said, “Leading firms by industry generally post over 100 billion won (US$93.55 million) in sales as they are able to gather cash cows through global investment and expand their services to new areas and global markets.”