Help – Do I apply for Sole Trader?

Hey All,

I've got a podcast which has various outgoings at the moment: publishing, cloud memory etc

I'm looking to sell merchandise to cover the costs.

Am I best setting up as a sole trader?? Do I need to open a business account?

Do I set up all my costs to come out of the business account and then get the income of the merch sales going in? Is there a point where I'd need to declare etc



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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

R&D tax credits are due July 15th. wants to help startups apply, and raised $3M to do it

All founders love “free” money, but with the global pandemic going on, the necessity of free money has taken on a whole new meaning this year. First, there was the scramble to secure PPP loans a few weeks back for U.S.-based startups, and then the second wave of PPP loans when Congress offered a second tranche of funding. Two weeks ago, I covered a company called MainStreet, which is helping startups apply for local economic development credits which cities offer to businesses relocating to their regions.

In the same vein, wants to help startups secure R&D research credits from the federal government — which tend to be fairly easy to acquire for most software-based startups given the current IRS rules for what qualifies as “research.”

The free money is good, but what sets this startup apart is its ambitious vision to bring machine learning to company accounting — making it easier to track expenses and ultimately save on costs.

It’s a vision that has attracted top seed investors to the startup. announced today that it raised $ 3 million in seed funding from Andy McLoughlin at Uncork Capital and Mike Maples at Floodgate, with Michael Ma at Liquid2 and Deena Shakir at Lux Capital participating. The round closed last week. was founded by Firas Abuzaid, who spent the past few years focused on a PhD in computer science from Stanford, where he conducted research in machine learning. He’s joined by Ahmad Ibrahim, who most recently was at Intuit launching small business accounting products; Stephen Yarbrough, who was head of tax at Kruse Consulting, a popular consultancy for startups on accounting and financial issues; and Leonardo De La Rocha, who was creative director of Facebook Ads for nearly five years.’s Stephen Yarbrough, Firas Abuzaid, and Ahmad Ibrahim. Photos via

Or in short, a perfect quad of folks to tackle small business accounting issues. wants to automate everything about accounting, and that requires careful application of ML techniques to an absolutely byzantine problem. Abuzaid explained that AI is in some ways a perfect fit for these challenges. “There’s a very clearly defined data model, there’s a large set of constraints that are also clearly defined. There’s an obvious objective function, and there’s a finite search space,” he said. “But if you wanted to develop a machine-learning-based solution to automate this, you have to make sure you collect the right data, and you have to make sure that you can handle all of the numerous edge cases that are going to pop up in the 80,000 page U.S. tax code.“

That’s where’s approach comes in. The software product is designed to ingest data about accounting, payroll, and other financial functions within an organization and starts to categorize and pattern match transactions in a bid to take out much of the drudgery of modern-day accounting.

One insight is that rather than creating a single model for all small businesses, tries to match similar businesses with each other, specializing its AI system to the particular client using it. “For example, let’s train a model that can target early-stage startups and then another model that can target Shopify businesses, another one that can target restaurants using Clover, or pizzerias or nail salons, or ice cream parlors,” Abuzaid said. “The idea here is that you can specialize to a particular domain and train a cascade of models that handle these different, individual subdomains that makes it a much more scalable solution.”

While has a big vision long-term to make accounting effortless, it wanted to find a beachhead that would allow it to work with small businesses and start to solve their problems for them. The team eventually settled on the R&D tax credit.

“That data from the R&D credit basically gives us the beginnings of the training data for building tax automation,” Ibrahim explained. “Automating tax vertical-by-vertical basically allows us to be this data layer for small businesses, and you can build lots of really great products and services on top of that data layer.“

So it’s a big long-term vision, with a focused upfront product to get there that launched about two months ago.

For startups that make less than $ 5 million in revenue (i.e. all early-stage startups), the R&D tax credit offers up to a quarter million dollars per year in refunds from the government for startups who either apply by July 15th (the new tax date this year due to the novel coronavirus) or who apply for an extension. will take a 5% cut of the tax value generated from its product, which it will only take when the refund is actually received from the government. In this way, the team believes that it is better incentive-aligned with founders and business owners than traditional accounting firms, which charge professional services fees up front and often take a higher percentage of the rebate.

Ibrahim said that the company made about $ 100,000 in revenue in its first month after launch.

The startup is entering what has become a quickly crowded field led by the likes of Pilot, which has raised tens of millions of dollars from prominent investors to use a human and AI hybrid approach to bookkeeping. Pilot was last valued at $ 355 million when it announced its round in April 2019, although it has almost certainly raised more funding in the interim.

Ultimately, is betting that a deeper technical infrastructure and a hyper-focus on artificial intelligence will allow it to catchup and compete with both Pilot and incumbent accounting firms, given the speed and ease of accounting and tax preparation when everything is automated.

Startups – TechCrunch

Only 12 hours left to apply for Startup Battlefield at Disrupt 2020

It’s now o’clock, founders. A mere 12 hours stands between you and a chance to compete in Startup Battlefield and launch your pre-Series A startup during Disrupt 2020 — in front of the world’s influential technorati.

You won’t find a bigger launching pad, and this window of extraordinary opportunity slams shut on June 26 at 11:59 pm (PT). Apply to Startup Battlefield right here, right now.

This year’s legendary pitch competition is virtual, but the benefits and opportunity that comes from competing are very real and often life changing — for all participants not just the ultimate winner. Let’s explore that a bit more.

The top prize — $ 100,000 equity free cash — will do wonders for your bottom line. The TechCrunch feature article – brings you into the league of legends. The Disrupt cup and the acclaim that comes with winning, well, who doesn’t love bragging rights? But it’s the huge exposure — on a global scale — to media, investors, potential customers and big tech players looking to acquire promising startups, that can take Battlefield competitors on a whole new trajectory.

Here’s a quick look at how Startup Battlefield works. We accept applications from founders of any background, geography and industry as long as your company is early stage, has an MVP with a tech component (software, hardware or platform) and hasn’t received much major media coverage.

Our editors screen every application and will choose only startups they feel possess that certain je ne sais quoi. The epic pitch-off takes place during Disrupt 2020, which runs from Sept. 14 – 18. Note: This opportunity is 100 percent free. TechCrunch does not charge any application or participation fees or take any equity.

You’ll receive six weeks of free pitch coaching from TC editors to whip you into prime fighting trim. Plus a virtual webinar series with industry experts. You’ll have just 6 minutes to pitch and demo to the judges — a panel of expert VCs, entrepreneurs and TechCrunch editors. Then you’ll answer their questions — and they’ll have plenty.

Founders who survive the first round move to the finals on the last day of Disrupt. It’s lather-rinse-repeat as you pitch to a fresh set of judges. Then it’s time for the big reveal: one startup takes the title, the Disrupt cup and the $ 100,000.

Have you clicked the application link yet? No? Here are more reasons to apply. If you earn a spot in the competition, you get a Disrupt Digital Pro pass and you get to exhibit to people around the world in Digital Startup Alley — for free.

You’ll network with CrunchMatch, our AI-powered platform, to set up virtual 1:1 meetings with investors, media, potential customers and the throngs of folks eager to meet a Battlefield competitor.

Need more perks? We got you covered.

  • A launch article featuring your startup on
  • Access to Leading Voices Webinars: Hear top industry minds share their strategies for adapting and thriving during and after the pandemic
  • A YouTube video promoted on
  • Free subscription to Extra Crunch
  • Free passes to future TechCrunch events

This no-cost, perk-packed opportunity disappears in just 12 hours. Do whatever it takes to keep your startup moving forward. Apply to compete in Startup Battlefield before the deadline expires on June 26 at 11:59 pm (PT).

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt 2020? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Startups – TechCrunch

Take your startup to the next level and apply now for the Startup Executive Academy 2020! (Sponsored Post)

The Startup Executive Academy (SEA) is a three-month Go-to-Market program for executives and founders of early-stage (seed, A or B phase) technology startups that has been taking place annually since 2017. The SEA20 Online is organized by Silicon Castles, an Austrian strategic business accelerator for technology businesses. The aim of the academy is to enable startups to accelerate their business by providing highly relevant and practical input delivered by a world-class faculty from academia and business, led by Prof. Baba Shiv from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Andreas Spechtler, CEO of Silicon Castles.

Here’s an overview of what you can expect:SEA20-Online-Schedule

Stage 1 – October

  • Week 1-2: Online Business Challenge Assessment

You and your team will have a video call with the Silicon Castles team and selected SEA faculty members. We will identify your startup’s challenge(s) and advise you on what to discuss and prepare internally to increase the value of your SEA20 participation.

  • Week 3: Meet your SEA20 Group

You will be assigned to a small group based on your startup’s assessment. The group serves as a support system and together you will prepare for the online live sessions and exchange experiences.

Stage 2 – November 

  • Week 4: SEA20 Online – Business Model & Strategy I & Storytelling

On every Monday, for the following four weeks, you will receive access to new videos and pre-reading material. The provided material will prepare you for the online live sessions that take place every Saturday afternoon (CET time). In the days between the sessions, you will get the chance to gather individual advice from selected SEA faculty members in dedicated 1:1 timeslots.

Prof. Baba Shiv will kick off the first week of stage 2 with the topic of Business Model & Strategy, that centers around the Business Model Canvas, a powerful and comprehensive visual tool that innovators find useful in developing and honing their business strategy and model.

The second session of the week is taught by marketing expert Catherine Ogilvie, a founding member of Napster and former marketing executive in global companies like Dolby. She will guide you in putting together a compelling and authentic company story that will provide the essential backbone for your communication strategy and messaging for both internal and external audiences. In addition to the BMC, you will also create your own Marketing Canvas this week.

  • Week 5: SEA20 Online – Business Model & Strategy II & Value Proposition

Prof. Baba Shiv will continue with Business Model & Strategy II.

Value Proposition, the second topic of the week, is also taught by Baba. You will gain a rich understanding of the workings of the instinctual brain, which shapes a substantial proportion of human decisions and actions, that are not only automatic but also often non-conscious. You will learn how to use this information to discover and design solutions that the instinctual brain seeks and craft value propositions for these instinctual solutions.

  • Week 6: SEA20 Online – Pricing, Sales & Negotiation

In week 6, Maciej Kraus, VC and former Global Pricing Head of PWC, will first introduce you to pricing strategies and tactics. This includes pricing in competitive markets, estimating demand, price discrimination, pricing in B2B, and pricing of innovative products. Alongside the input from the videos and the session, you will prepare your own Pricing Canvas.

The next topic, Sales, is taught by Andreas Spechtler, founder of Silicon Castles and former President of Dolby International, and Mahesh Sundaram, CCO of Authentic Vision and former VP of Worldwide Sales and Customer Support at Immersion Corporation. Together they have closed 500+ sales deals all over for the world and they will share their key learnings, common misconceptions, and best practices in technology sales, as well as how sales management evolves as your company grows with you. Before the session, you will work on your Sales Canvas.

Successful sales require negotiation skills. Christian Dreyer, a seasoned entrepreneur with 30+ years of experience building up companies and former McKinsey consultant, teaches you what it takes to be a good negotiator, how to push your best interests without alienating the other side and how to react when your opponent uses dirty tricks.

  • Week 7: SEA20 Online – Investors

The last week of stage 2 is dedicated to Investors – a topic that’s highly relevant for most startups but also feared and associated with a lot of uncertainty. Pascal Levensohn, Senior Managing Director of Dolby Family Ventures and a Silicon Valley veteran, introduces you to the different types of investors and how and when to approach them. Additionally, Andreas Spechtler will lead you through the creation of a comprehensive Investment Memorandum, which attracts investors.

On November 29, the SEA CIRCLE day takes place. On this day, your class will be joined by members of the SEA CIRCLE, the SEA alumni network of some 40+ companies. Together, you will discuss the highs and lows your startups have experienced (1h) during the Covid-19 crisis and how your startup coped with them. Afterward, you will get the unique opportunity to peek inside the head of a VC for one hour as he shares his thoughts and comments while someone is pitching. This allows you to understand the standpoint and mindset of a VC and enables you to finetune your own pitch. Next, Prof. Baba Shiv will present a keynote (1h) on a current topic (tba). The SEA CIRCLE day will finish with a final plenary Q&A session with all participants and the SEA faculty.

Stage 3 – December and beyond

  • Week 8-9: Online Faculty Mentoring

So, you’ve learned lots during the SEA20 Online and you’re brimming with ideas to take your startup to the next level! Navigating these changes can be highly rewarding but tricky. Selected SEA faculty members and the Silicon Castles team will offer guidance for you and your team to enable a smooth implementation process during a mentoring call.

  • January 2021 and onwards: SEA CIRCLE Sessions

Reunite virtually with your SEA CIRCLE peers and the SEA faculty for one evening a month starting in January 2021 to learn about new topics to ensure the continuous acceleration of your startup – broaden your horizon and ask all your burning questions!

Curious? Check out the SEA20 Online website to learn more, apply or schedule a call to have all your questions answered by the Silicon Castles team!


Half as many women apply for ICANN leadership jobs This year’s ICANN Nominating Committee has released data showing a drop in the number of applicants for ICANN leadership positions, with a noticeable decline in the number of female applicants. The NomCom is responsible for picking members of the ICANN board, GNSO Council, PTI board, ALAC and ccNSO Council. There were 96 applic…

72 hours left to apply to Startup Battlefield at Disrupt 2020

Want to launch your early-stage startup in front of the largest Disrupt audience in history? The opportunity clock is ticking, and you have just 72 hours left for a chance to compete head-to-head against top startups from around the world at Disrupt 2020. Beat the deadline — apply to compete in Startup Battlefield before June 19 at 11:59 pm (PT).

This Startup Battlefield may be virtual, but there’s nothing virtual about the benefits to your startup. Exposure to a huge global audience means more investors, more media, more opportunity of every size and stripe. Then there’s the not-so-small matter of the $ 100,000 cash prize. Imagine what that could do for your bottom line. And let’s not forget the coveted Disrupt Cup and serious bragging rights. Those count, too.

Here’s how the virtual Startup Battlefield works. Applying to and competing in the Battlefield is free, and TechCrunch takes no equity. You’re eligible to apply if you can jump through these small hoops.

  • Your company is early stage
  • It has an MVP with a tech component (software, hardware or platform)
  • Your company has received minimal major media coverage

Every application we receive is thoroughly screened by the TechCrunch editorial team. They’re looking for creativity and game-changing potential, and they take the process Very. Seriously. The startups they select — typically between 15 and 20 — will compete virtually during Disrupt 2020, which runs from Sept. 14 – 18.

You never enter a battle arena without proper training, and all competing teams will have weeks of free coaching from the TechCrunch editorial team. It’s intense, but you’ll come out of the experience with a finely tuned demo, a boffo business model and killer presentation skills.

During round one, each Battlefield team gets six-minutes to pitch to a panel of judges (think top VCs and technologists). All that coaching comes in handy when, after your pitch, the judges grill you for another six minutes.

The judges then choose a handful of teams to move into the final round. On the last day of the virtual conference, the finalists pitch again to an entirely new set of judges. When the dust settles, only one outstanding startup will claim the title, the Disrupt Cup and $ 100,000.

Here’s the thing about Startup Battlefield. There may be only one champ, but every competing team receives massive world-wide exposure, tons of media and investor interest and a huge opportunity to take their business to the next level — even in these challenging times.

Want more perks? Buckle up.

Startup Battlefield competitors also get to exhibit in Digital Startup Alley, and they receive a bevy of benefits.

  • CrunchMatch, our AI-powered networking platform, to set up virtual 1:1 meetings with investors, media or potential customers
  • Leading Voices Webinars: Hear top industry minds share their strategies for adapting and thriving during and after the pandemic. Startup Alley exhibitors get exclusive access to this webinar series.
  • A launch article posted on
  • A YouTube video promoted on
  • Free subscription to Extra Crunch.Free passes to future TechCrunch events

Competitors also join the ranks of the Startup Battlefield Alumni — this impressive group has collectively raised $ 9 billion and generated 115 exits. We’re talking companies like Vurb, Dropbox, GetAround, Mint, Yammer, Fitbit and many more. Talk about prime networking.

The deadline expires on June 19 at 11:59 pm (PT). You have just 72 hours left to apply to compete in Startup Battlefield at Disrupt 2020. Don’t delay. Jump into the arena and grab this opportunity for all it’s worth.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt 2020? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Startups – TechCrunch

How important is it to apply for trademarks? What if an individual applies for the trademark, can it be later used by the company (which as of now is not registered because we aren’t sure I’m which country we should register the company) What are the complications and risks involved.

We are two student Cofounders and currently not well informed about the legality of these requirements. We are entirely bootstrapping using the money we are earning through side hustles such as internships and freelance. Any help will be wonderful. Thankyou:)

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Stand out from the crowd: Apply to TC Top Picks at Disrupt 2020

This is one [expletive deleted] tough time to be an early-stage startup founder. But giving up simply isn’t part of startup DNA. Instead, it’s time to do whatever it takes to catch the eyes and imagination of investors, media and other tech and business influencers. Here’s an easy way to begin. Apply to be a TC Top Pick at virtual Disrupt 2020.

What’s a TC Top Pick? It’s an early-stage startup that passed rigorous scrutiny by TechCrunch editors with an eye for innovation and potential. The fortunate few to earn that designation win a free Digital Startup Alley Package, tons of exposure to investors and media, plus a bunch of other bennies designed to help you survive and thrive — even in tough times.

Here’s how it works. You’re eligible to apply if your pre-Series A startup falls into one of the following categories.

Social Impact + Education, Space, Artificial Intelligence + Machine Learning, Biotech + Healthtech, Enterprise + SaaS, Fintech, Mobility, Retail + E-commerce, Robotics, Hardware + IOT, and Security + Privacy.

TechCrunch editors will choose up to three startups in each category. Each Top Pick receives a Digital Startup Package, which lets three people exhibit from anywhere in the world. And since everyone wants to know who made the grade as a Top Pick, you can expect lots of requests for 1:1 virtual demos and video meetings with investors, media, potential customers, folks interested in collaborating — you name it. And you’ll have months to pitch and network.

Here’s another giant advantage: TechCrunch will conduct a virtual video interview for each Top Pick startup and promote the videos across our social media platforms — driving traffic to your website. Your video will make an excellent conversation starter and long-term marketing tool.

We’re not done with all the Startup Alley exhibitor perks and opportunities. You get exclusive access to the Leading Voices Webinar series. You’ll hear the brightest industry minds discuss ways to adapt during and after this pandemic.

All that networking will be a lot easier and more efficient with CrunchMatch, TechCrunch’s AI-powered networking platform. It helps you find and connect with like-minded investors, founders and other startup influencers. Save time by networking only with people who can move your business forward.

Pour yourself something tasty, join the Pitchers and Pitches webinars and fine-tune your pitch with the TechCrunch editorial team that coaches the Startup Battlefield competitors.

Don’t let hard times drive your dream into a ditch. Do what it takes to place your startup in front of the influencers who can help you succeed. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Keep moving forward and apply to the TC Top Picks program.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt 2020? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Startups – TechCrunch

Apply For The EnergySpin Business Accelerator & Take Your Energy Technology Solutions International

The EnergySpin Business Accelerator program is back to identify and support the most disruptive innovations impacting the energy sector. Come and join the most unique energy multi-corporate accelerator in Europe, where the focus is on individual attention that enables you to leapfrog your startup to the next level.

EnergySpin is run on behalf of a number of corporates that contribute financially to the operations of the program, making it a multi-corporate accelerator. This gives corporate partners a chance to collaborate with the most innovative and promising startups in their specific fields to solve pressing challenges.

EnergySpin constantly works to establish and develop mutually beneficial cooperation between startups and their corporate partners. The corporate partners supporting EnergySpin include Wartsila, The Switch (a Yaskawa company), Danfoss, and VEO, among others. Moreover, the accelerator supports you with tailored input on growth planning, product development, commercialization, financing and marketing, and possible investment.

Apply by August 12 to participate in the Fall 2020 batch scheduled to begin in October.

Who Is Eligible To Apply

This opportunity is open to all startups in the energy sector, as well as startup enterprises in fields related to the energy sector, including digitalization, AI, IoT, Blockchain, cybersecurity, big data & advanced analytics, gamification, open data, and 5G. Your solutions can range from smart grids, power optimization, renewable energy, energy-saving & efficiency, energy storage, and future mobility.

In short, EnergySpin is looking for all innovative and disruptive solutions that enable a clean energy future.

Why Your Startup Should Apply

Irrespective of which stage of operations your startup is in, the EnergySpin Business Accelerator offers exciting opportunities for all:

  • Pilot & test your solutions with corporate partners
  • Network & receive mentorship from leading industry experts
  • Participate in the unique industry cluster workshops
  • Gain international exposure
  • Advance your personal growth & development

The application is quick & easy and includes a description of your solution, various market opportunities, competitors, finances, and details about your team.

What Happens During The Program

From the beginning of the program, the startups will work with corporate partners on developing joint projects, from piloting and the Proof of Concept (PoC) to becoming customers and partners.

The EnergySpin accelerator is built as a 10-weeks full-time program established in Vassa, on the west coast of Finland.

Participants will need to be physically present only during specific weeks, when all the workshops, coaching sessions, and meetings happen. However, startups are encouraged to stay the entire 10-weeks to make full use of the premises and opportunities in this unique industry cluster.

Up to two members from each startup can attend the in-person events. Participation in the accelerator program is 100% fee-free.

The Program Timeline

After reviewing the applications, 30 startups are selected and invited, where they meet with corporate partners and mentors to probe the feasibility of the company and solution.

  • Selection Days: 3 – 4 September 2020 (Virtual Event)

At the end of the Selection Days, up to 16 – 20 companies are handpicked by the partners to proceed to Phase 1 of the program.

Phase 1

  • Accelerator Program Opening Days: 21 – 23 October 2020 (Virtual Event)
    • Evaluation of proposition and product review
    • Partner review
  • Product Excellence & Partner Meetings: 26 – 30 October 2020 (at Vaasa Energy Cluster)
    • Product excellence
    • Investor expectations
    • Go-to-market workshops
    • B2B sales
    • Problem finding and tailored-made solution
    • Mentoring & coaching to prepare and support for partner meetings
  • Partners Days: 28 – 29 October individual meetings with the Partners
  • Teams’ Status Check: 16 – 19 November 2020 (Virtual Event)

Phase 2

  • Go-to-Market & Investor Excellence: 7 – 11 December 2020 (in Vaasa) including individual Partner meetings
  • Batch 5 Graduation will take place on 11 December 2020 in Vaasa.

Successful EnergySpin Alumni

GEYSER Batteries

Geyser Batteries develops a new energy storage mechanism that does not use lithium-ion batteries. Their products work up to 10-100 times when compared to traditional batteries and function steadily over longer durations. This makes them ideal for hybrid powertrains and long-term heavy-duty power grid systems. The Vaasa-based company currently caters to B2B customers in the transportation, industrial machinery, and power grid sectors.

This EnergySpin Business Accelerator alumni from the 2018 Spring batch received €1 million seed funding from Voima Ventures in 2019.


Instagrid develops an advanced portable power pack to replace highly polluting petrol and diesel generators. Their products offer simple, flexible, and emission-free access to grid-scale power for professionals on the move. The company was founded in 2018 and specializes in the development of portable battery equipment, offering a mobile power supply for people working in temporary locations.

This EnergySpin Business Accelerator alumni from the 2019 Fall batch received €8.5 million Series A funding led by SET Ventures in early 2020.

Ready To Spin Your Energy Solution Globally?

EnergySpin offers you a unique opportunity to get a real impression of the prospects of the Vaasa region energy cluster. Its international partner companies are looking for solutions that are ready to change the future of the energy sector. Are you ready to participate?

To take your startup to the next level, apply for the EngerySpin Accelerator now!




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StartUs Magazine

Apply For The K-Startup Grand Challenge By 25 June & Break Into Asia!

The key purpose of the global acceleration program K-Startup Grand Challenge is to promote collaboration and exchange of ideas among startups from Korea and around the world. For this, startups will come to Korea for an initial 3 month period* before selected startups will enter the settlement phase to break into Asia.

Startups will come to South Korea for three months? In the midst of a pandemic?
Yes, and here is why that’s possible:

South Korea is one of the only countries globally that has successfully brought the COVID-19 outbreak under control. While other countries are struggling, South Korea is relying on high tech solutions to contain the novel Coronavirus, allowing its population to return to normal – with restaurants, shopping malls, and parks filled in recent weeks. Thanks to its grasp on emerging technology that ensures safety, South Korea develops into a facilitator for international events at a time where large scale events are restricted in most regions. Moreover, South Koreans themselves are known to be early adopters of technology, offering many opportunities for tech startups from all industries to rebuild and scale their solutions.

Organized by NIPA & funded by the South Korean Ministry of SMEs and Startups, the K-Startup Grand Challenge is looking to support startups in various sectors and technologies – from mobility to energy and artificial intelligence to additive manufacturing.

The KSGC is a global acceleration program conducted by the Korean government, which began in 2016 to assist global startups to expand into the Korean market and the broader Asian markets. The key purpose of the K-Startup Grand Challenge is to promote collaboration and exchange of ideas among startups from Korea and around the world.

If you start your company in Korea, you can take advantage of the various supports of this program as well as a surge of momentum into the Asian market thanks to the growing influence of the Korean Wave.

Accelerating A Wide Range Of Innovative Startups

Because South Korea is one of the world’s most tech-savvy countries, KSGC is looking for innovations in a variety of sectors. These include: Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, Cloud Computing, Networking, 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), Robotics, AutoTech, Virtual Reality (VR), Mixed Reality (MR), Augmented Reality (AR), Smart City (Agri, Gov, Factory), Health, BioTech, Semiconductor, Green Energy, 3D Printing, Blockchain, FinTech, Information Security, eCommerce, Smart Home, Logistics, Media (Gaming, Social Media, Digital Content).

Moreover, your company should be founded in 2013 or after and be headquartered in the EMEA region to be eligible for the K-Startup Grand Challenge.

Advantages: Financial Support, Free Office Space, Corporate Sponsorship & More

South Korea is home to 11 unicorns and it is an active and well-designed startup ecosystem that attracts investors and international companies such as Google. In addition to this, major Korean companies have actively expressed interest in collaborating with startups from across the globe.

To facilitate this, benefits of the K-Startup Grand Challenge include a $ 120K cash prize, expert support, co-working space, living expenses, extra fundings, and more:

  • State of the Art R&D Labs for prototyping, testing facilities, expert support
  • 3 Months Acceleration: The top 60 selected teams will be invited to stay in Korea to participate in a 3 month-long acceleration program. This program will give you access to 1-on-1 mentoring, information sessions, coaching on Korean and Asian business culture, and seminars on topics like patents, accounting regulations, tax laws, and more.
  • Access to a brand new Startup Campus: You will work at Korea’s new Startup Campus in Pangyo, located within a walking distance of many of Korea’s top tech companies and just a 14-minute subway ride away from the Gangnam district of Seoul.
  • Free Office & Project Space: You will receive an office space for your team as well as all sorts of equipment and space. Also, you will have Korean interns working for you to help lowering language and cultural barriers while pursuing local business.
  • Corporate Sponsorship & Support: Korea’s largest tech companies will participate in various seminars, workshops, and 1-on-1 mentoring with expertise ranging from smartphones to software to semiconductors.
  • Financial Support: The top 60 teams selected for the acceleration program will receive USD 10,840 for one-person teams and USD 15,490 for two-person teams to cover the living expenses over 3.5 months (including 2 weeks of quarantine expense*).
  • Settlement Phase: A 3.5 Month Settlement Fund is available for each of the selected 30 top teams after the acceleration phase (total USD 40,000)

KSGC – An Acceleration Program With A Proven Track Record

In 2019, 1.677 startups from 95 countries competed to be selected for the K-Startup Grand Challenge. 38 of them were selected to participate in a 3.5 month-long acceleration program and received initial funding and office space. Following this, the top 20 teams were then chosen in the Demo Day in December and given additional funds for 3.5 months which help them to successfully claim their place in Korea.

Overall, the results of startups that participated in the KSGC 2016-2019 made astonishing accomplishments until last year. The following is a glimpse of their achievements:

  • 89 established entities
  • USD 1.2 billion domestic & international investments
  • 881 corporations
  • 374 contracts signed
  • 906 meetings with major Korean companies, SMEs, startups, VCs, etc.

“From my experience, South Korea is like a window to global expansion. When you make collaborations with international companies like Hyundai, Samsung, LG, etc., you also get the advantage of extending services to other countries.It is definitely worth doing business here as long as you are really mindful of the Korean culture and accept that you have to adapt your style.”, states 2019 participant Matei Psatta, CMO at TPS Engage.

2019’s winner Jordan Monnet, CPO at nr2, appreciates KSGc as a shortcut to understanding ecosystems in Korea: “Being here and seeing things at firsthand really made me realize how innovative Korea was. That was the reason I decided to stay here. Another thing that makes me stay in Korea is the life in the city, Seoul. You can have whatever life you want. You can have a party, go to the lake, and hike mountains. This is the only place in the world where I can do all the activities I want to do.”

2020 Timeline

  • 15 May – 25 June: Application Phase
  • 29 June – 2 July: Application Review
  • 9 – 15 July: Global Auditions
  • 17 July: Final Announcement
  • 1 Sept – 30 Nov: Program Acceleration in Korea (incl. 2 weeks quarantine)
  • 19 – 21 Nov: Demo Day where the top 30 teams will be selected for the next phase
  • 15 Jan – 30 April 2021: Settlement Program

To break into Asia, apply for the K-Startup Grand Challenge by 25 June 2020!



*Editor’s Note: Before the acceleration phase starts, participants will be required to quarantine for two weeks.



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