- Jeju Life
- Local Businesses
"Seogwipo-si has a lot of potential as a city. If the city is equipped with systematic accelerating programs and support schemes, it will grow into a place where the young would rush in and start their businesses."
This is why Rocky Kim, the founder of Next Challenge, came all the way to Seogwipo of Jeju and has been engaged with startups from their founding phase to the incubating phase to investing in them through an investment co-op.
Rocky Kim, CEO of Next Challenge
A New Era Needs A New Standard
Next Challenge is an accelerating global foundation licensed by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups with a mission of finding and incubating promising startups. The foundation also aims to build and enliven startup ecosystems where a startup could settle in a community. Kim has up and running Next Challenge Asia (NCA) and Next Challenge Ventures (NCV) for investment support, and is preparing to open Next Challenge University (NCU), where the young would be educated into competent talents with global insights and entrepreneurship.
Kim was known for his book, "Mutant Wolf," about the roles of startups in this fast-changing world. In his book, Kim stresses the importance of education to respond to the needs of a new age and of the discovery of competent startups in coping with the uncertainties of the future. That's why Seogwipo came to his mind as a place of great potential as the city was equipped with the needed infrastructure of, for example, the international schools and the visa waiver system.
StartupBay offers spaces and training programs for tenants.
Accelerating programs undertaken by Next Challenge
Startup Bay, a coworking space for businesses, is available for entrepreneurs in any stage, from preparation to infancy. Ten companies selected out of a pool of applicants are offered a space as well as training programs tailored to the founding time and the growth curve of a startup. The tenancy is extended up to two years, depending on its annual evaluation result. The tenant selection criteria prioritized the growth potential and the founding members' capacity.
"As for a highly competitive business, the established companies with records of revenue generation, employment, government project undertakings, and receipt of investment series would have the upper hand if only qualitative evaluation is conducted. The raison d'etre of StartupBay is to build and activate a startup ecosystem. We focus on the discovery and development of prep entrepreneurs and new startups. The sincerity, the capability, and the value-sets of a founder or founders are crucial factors to our qualitative evaluation."
Look Beyond Jeju to the World
One of the strongest points of Next Challenge is the global network. It has established a startup innovation city through private and public governance with the city governments of Seogwipo, Seoul, Busan, and Incheon, and founded global joint ventures in the US, France, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Vietnam, being positioned as a global accelerator supporting Korean startups to go global.
To more strategically assure Korean startups to step into the global arena, Next Challenge built a joint venture in Thailand in 2021. And the idea of setting up another joint venture with Daewoo Investment & Consultancy is also under consideration. The global network of Next Challenge has been, and still is, expanding its presence into the US, France, Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Thailand.
Next Challenge supports domestic startups to go global, expanding its network to Thailand, Vietnam, etc.
"Jeju has unlimited sources of business items in the environment, tourism, and culture. If you don't forget the words, the most local is the most global, while keeping an objective perspective on your business model, you will be able to harness excellent opportunities to grow your startup based on Jeju into a global unicorn as more and more interest is paid in locally-grown businesses."