Today: Apr 23, 2024

Student startup founder from Ghana shares entrepreneurial journey in Korea!

4 months ago

Key Points:

  • Korea is striving to be a mecca of startups and is looking to expand coverage to international startups.
  • Saabom Samuel Muobom, a doctoral student from Ghana, founded Rheogreen, a startup that uses ultrasound waves to recycle colored plastic.

Starting a startup journey as a foreigner in another country can be challenging, but with the right support systems, it is possible. Saabom Samuel Muobom, a doctoral student at Seoul National University and CEO of Rheogreen, shares his entrepreneurial journey in Korea. Korea is actively working to become a hub for startups, particularly in major cities like Seoul and Daejeon where there are numerous startup incubators. While Korean investors primarily focus on Korean companies, they are also looking to expand their coverage to international startups, creating opportunities for foreign entrepreneurs. Muobom, originally from Ghana, saw a niche in Korea’s ban on colored plastic bottles and developed a technology that uses ultrasound waves to dissolve colorants and recycle colored plastic.

One of the biggest helps for Rheogreen was participating in the Promising Student Start-up Team 300 competition. This annual program organized by the Korea Entrepreneurship Foundation offers mentoring for budding startups and this year, a separate application track was created for international students. Rheogreen won the top prize at the demo day for international students in November. While there are obstacles to overcome, such as transitioning to a startup visa upon graduation and generating profit from the technology, Muobom remains optimistic and encourages international students to pursue their ideas and startups. The government is working towards integrating student visas with startup visas, and the Korea Entrepreneurship Foundation is advocating for this integration.

In an interview with Korea JoongAng Daily, Muobom discussed his experience with startup support programs in Korea and his plans for Rheogreen. He chose Korea as the best place to pursue his startup due to Korea’s high success rate and many emerging startups in the global startup ecosystem. He was particularly drawn to the country’s ranking as the third in Asia for technology and patent-based startups. Participating in the Promising Student Start-up Team 300 program provided valuable support and resources for Rheogreen. The program was created to give foreigners an opportunity to participate in the grand challenge competition for startups in Korea. The Korea Entrepreneurship Foundation designed a program to help international students understand the Korean startup ecosystem and provided mentors to assist with setting up business models. Through the program, Rheogreen was able to establish connections with other Korean startups and develop relationships.

Muobom discovered the Korea Entrepreneurship Foundation through social media and recommends following government startup centers and platforms on social media to stay informed about available programs and resources. Additionally, startup support centers in cities and neighborhoods also strive to create good programs and help foreigners. Muobom believes that while the demand for colored plastic recycling technology may decrease due to Korea’s ban on colored plastic bottles, there will always be a need for colors in plastics for packaging and chemical differentiation. Rheogreen’s long-term goal is to produce biodegradable dyes and color-free plastic using their technology. They are also in talks with other startups interested in using recycled materials to create high-end, fashionable goods.