A Vital Springboard: Hanwha Life’s DREAMPLUS Incubator Launches Start-ups Toward Global Success


New beginnings can be rough ⁠— especially for start-ups.

Most fail in their first few years, struggling to find resources while trying to make sense of constantly shifting market demands.

However, survival rates improve dramatically when start-ups receive support during their formative years, whether it be financing, mentorship, networking or even just a dedicated workplace.

Since 2016, Hanwha Life’s DREAMPLUS incubator has been fostering start-ups and talented individuals so they can bring their disruptive ideas to a wide audience. DREAMPLUS taps into Hanwha’s large global network to help start-ups make vital industry and business connections that spur growth and innovation. Because of this, many early stage start-ups have flocked to DREAMPLUS in Korea and created a thriving start-up community.

Now, DREAMPLUS is expanding overseas to give start-ups even more growth opportunities.

Opening new Asian opportunities

DREAMPLUS’ Global Expansion Program (GEP) accelerates Korean start-ups’ entry into global markets such as USA, Japan, Vietnam and China. Through the GEP, start-ups take advantage of Hanwha’s global network to secure overseas partnerships and sales.

Among the 2019 GEP applicants, four Korean companies were given the opportunity to pitch themselves to potential Vietnamese investors and business partners.

DREAMPLUS’ GEP provides vital assistance to start-ups taking their first steps onto the world stage

The meetings were fruitful, for FreecN, a mobile multimedia platform developer, and SmartMD, a mobile-based microscopic diagnostic tool developer, planning to open Vietnamese offices this year. FreecN also received a USD 2.5 million investment from Hanwha Investment & Securities at the beginning of 2020.

Building on its experience with DREAMPLUS and the GEP, FreecN will begin developing start-up-targeted content to help other companies looking to accelerate their growth. Current DREAMPLUS-supported start-ups will create video lectures to share their own stories and business tips. These lectures will then be posted on AfreecaTV’s video-streaming service as well as on FreecN’s AfreeCollege channel. With DREAMPLUS’ help, FreecN hopes to distribute this content to a global audience.

Korean start-ups launch in Japan with LAUNCHPAD

DREAMPLUS is working with LAUNCHPAD, Korea Creative Content Agency’s (KOCCA) own accelerator program, to help content-focused start-ups explore Japanese business opportunities. Since July of 2019, DREAMPLUS has provided LAUNCHPAD start-ups with office space, administrative support, and lessons on how to navigate the Japanese business world from Hanwha Life’s office in Fukuoka, Japan. DREAMPLUS also organizes networking events and matches LAUNCHPAD start-ups with local mentors, accelerators, and venture capitalists.

Thanks to LAUNCHPAD and DREAMPLUS, there are three start-ups currently looking to expand into Japan: Marvrus, a virtual, augmented, and mixed reality-based edutech company; Voithru, an AI-based crowdsourcing platform for automated subtitle production; and xSync, an event-management platform.

xSync is taking steps to enter the Japanese market thanks to DREAMPLUS and LAUNCHPAD

xSync recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Global Connect Kyushu, a grassroots network that provides globalization services to companies from the Japanese island of Kyushu. Meanwhile, Voithru is attracting attention and investment from a Japanese venture capitalist on top of the investment it has already received from DREAMPLUS.

Crossing America, from NY’s Silicon Alley to CA’s Silicon Valley

For Korean start-ups seeking American investments and business opportunities, the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) opened “Startup Branch New York” in midtown Manhattan. It provides start-ups with video-conferencing systems, coworking spaces, and a business center and lounge. DREAMPLUS signed an MOU with KITA for its start-ups to use Startup Branch New York’s facilities.

DREAMPLUS operates an incubator in San Francisco for US-based start-ups looking to enter the Asian market

Correspondingly, on the West Coast, DREAMPLUS provides incubator space at Hanwha Life’s San Francisco office for American start-ups looking to expand into Asia. From here, these start-ups can participate in networking events and pitch opportunities. DREAMPLUS also hopes that the SF incubator — through its proximity to Silicon Valley — will become an important innovation hub that will identify and explore global fintech trends.

An innovative ecosystem where start-ups bloom

It takes great bravery for any start-up to turn an idea into reality. Knowing that young companies are taking huge risks to succeed, DREAMPLUS provides them with a safer framework from which they can find mentors and investments, guiding them toward success.

Now, as it expands globally, DREAMPLUS is helping more start-ups grow. As a lively start-up ecosystem, it encourages open innovation, fosters future talent, and nurtures an entrepreneurial culture. Yet, DREAMPLUS is more than an incubator; by partnering with start-ups, DREAMPLUS not only helps them achieve their ambitions step by step, but it also shares in their successes.

Hanwha Life

Established in 1946, Hanwha Life is a leading life insurance company that is both the first and the oldest in South Korea. Early on, we played a critical role in developing the insurance industry and the country’s economic growth.

In 2017, we expanded but made sure to stay structurally sound. We reported total assets of USD 102.96 billion. At the end of 2017, we achieved a 206.4 percent risk-based capital (RBC) ratio, demonstrating the soundness of our asset quality. Our strong credit ratings from both domestic agencies and abroad attest to our creditworthiness. We have received sterling AAA credit ratings from South Korea’s top rating agencies for the past eleven years. From abroad, we received global credit ratings of A1 from Moody's and A+ from Pitch international credit rating agencies.

For more information, please visit: www.hanwhalife.com/en

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