Bright lights. Energetic music. A massive crowd. Investors watching on, keen and curious. A pitch deck on the screen, a clicker at the ready. And of course, a founder standing before them, ready to talk about how her startup can change the world.
This is what a demo day looks like. These events are a key part of the startup scene for rising companies to present their ideas, connect with potential investors, and celebrate what it takes to create something new and innovative.
Youngduk Kim, executive director of Dcamp (right) / Photo credit: Dcamp
That’s why demo days are crucial to South Korean startup accelerator Dcamp’s efforts to foster startup growth. Founded in 2013, Dcamp supports young companies through investments, growth programs, and monthly startup demo day events, known as “Ddays.”
In this interview, Youngduk Kim, executive director of Dcamp, talks about how Dday helps the accelerator’s larger ecosystem, why the November 2022 edition of the event was so special, and the accelerator’s plans to take the demo day global.
What is Dday?
Dday is a monthly startup demo day organized by Dcamp since June 2013. The event reached a major milestone in August 2022, celebrating its 100th edition. It’s one of the longest-running demo days in the nation, having drawn some 7,392 applicants and a total of 565 companies to date, including unicorns like Toss and Dunamu.
Dday is essentially the opening act to Dcamp’s entire value chain system. Startups get to showcase their businesses to a wide audience of potential customers and attract investments from venture capitalists and investors – including Dcamp itself. And companies that have participated in Dday are eligible to apply for office space in one of two incubation centers that we run.
What does Dday hope to accomplish?
Dcamp hopes to help promising startups gain exposure to a large public audience through Dday, with the aim of generating service or product awareness and meeting customers’ interests.
Photo credit: Dcamp
It also serves as a gateway for startups to access Dcamp’s vast business network and resources so that we can support them through potentially long developmental stages as they work toward business growth. Additionally, as Dcamp is backed by the Banks Foundation for Young Entrepreneurs, a nonprofit organization funded by 19 of South Korea’s major financial institutions, we’re hoping to extend the credibility that brings to rising startups via the Dday name.
After all, a company cannot just survive on good ideas – credibility, basic infrastructural support, and investments are necessary to succeed.
What was special about the November 2022 edition of Dday?
Dday in November 2022 was held at Front1, South Korea’s largest startup support center.
It was unique since for the first time, an international startup – BetterData – participated in the event. Previously, Dday was only open to startups from South Korea.
BetterData pitching at the November 2022 edition of Dday / Photo credit: Dcamp
BetterData is a Singapore-based platform development company that converts customer information into anonymized data to be used for consumer analysis without concerns over privacy breaches. It is also the first Singapore-based startup recommended under a recent agreement signed between Dcamp and Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).
How was the November 2022 edition of Dday received by participants?
We had approximately 300 people turn out for Dday. 22 startups participated in the event, and we had some notable investors, such as Cento Ventures, Golden Equator Ventures, and IMDA, join us as well.
We heard some great feedback from the venture partners that joined us at the event: Jean Yeow, associate director at Golden Equator Ventures, said she was “blown away by the scale and efficiency of the event” and was impressed that many of the startups “already had a product-market fit and revenue despite being very young.”
Photo credit: Dcamp
Edwin Low, director of enterprise and ecosystem development at IMDA, was excited about meeting innovative Korean startups with solutions in areas like artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and mediatech as well as for the opportunities that South Korea holds for companies from Singapore. He was also delighted to see BetterData participate in the event.
“BetterData emerged as a finalist [at Dday] out of 297 applicants, gaining access to potential investment funds and incubation space in Korea, which could fast track its expansion plans in the Korean market,” he said.
How does Dday feature in to Dcamp’s global expansion plans?
Dday is part of the larger scope of Dcamp’s plans to expand outside of South Korea. In 2022, Dcamp signed a memorandum of intent with Singapore’s IMDA and Vietnam’s National Innovation Center. The partnership calls for startup exchanges among the institutions and opening up our incubation spaces to such inbound startups.
Dcamp wants to take its global agenda a step further so that promising startups outside of our network can also access our value chain. We want to become the gateway for any and all startups – of all nationalities – on their business growth journey.
The Dday in November 2022 kicked off our global partnerships. In 2023, Dcamp is prepared to go fully global, working with the Overall Assistance for Start-up Immigration System (OASIS), South Korea’s sole government agency supporting startup immigration, to open up an office at Front1. This will support foreign entrepreneurs entering the country in obtaining visas, office space, and investments.
With Dcamp also raising funds globally to invest in startups aiming to set up in Southeast Asia, Dday participants can broaden their chances for fundraising as well.
In 2023, we’re also taking Dday to a truly global stage with the launch of our Dday x Global League event to offer growth opportunities to Korean startups seeking overseas expansion and foreign startups hoping to enter the Korean market. Dday x Global League will be co-hosted by IMDA and OASIS as well as a few other partners relevant to entrepreneurs operating cross-border businesses.
Dcamp is Korea’s first ever startup hub created in 2013. It actively invests in early-stage startups and helps entrepreneurs realize their business goals.
Dcamp is currently accepting applications for its monthly demo day events, the earliest of which will be held on February 23. Find out more and apply for these demo days here.
This content was produced by Tech in Asia Studios, which connects brands with Asia’s tech community. Learn more about partnering with Tech in Asia Studios.