Young S. Korean entrepreneurs take the spotlight at Presidential New Year’s event

On Jan. 2, five prominent young entrepreneurs took center stage at a New Year’s greeting event attended by President Yoon Suk-yeol and over 400 influential figures from the business community. This event, marking a tradition since 1962, is a significant annual gathering for business leaders to welcome the new year.


The five prominent young entrepreneurs attended at the 2024 New Year’s Business Event./Son Min-gyun


Among those in attendance were Kang Ji-young (39), CEO of ROBO ARETE; Moon Woo-ri (39), CEO of 40FY; Lim Jae-won (35), CEO of GOPIZZA; Lee Hye-seong (34), CEO of AIRS Medical; and Na Jae-hoon (45), CEO of Tween Nano. These entrepreneurs, except Na, are all in their 30s and were prominently positioned in the front row at the event, held at the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) Central Hall in Yeouido, Seoul.

These rising stars mingled with key business leaders, including Samsung Electronics Executive Chairman Lee Jae-yong, SK Group Chairman and Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Chairman Chey Tae-won, Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chairman Chung Eui-sun, and LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo. Government officials were also present, such as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance Choi Sang-mok, Minister of SMEs and Startups Oh Young-ju, and Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Bang Moon-kyu.


President Yoon Suk-yeol cuts a ricecake with business leaders at the 2024 New Year’s Greeting event held at the Korea Federation of SMEs in Yeouido, Seoul, on Jan. 2, 2024./Presidential Office


Lim Jae-won, the founder of GOPIZZA, a one-person pizza franchise brand, has seen remarkable growth. By 2022, the brand had attracted a cumulative investment of $31.2 million (40.9 billion won). In 2023, GOPIZZA was acknowledged as a preliminary unicorn, a privately held company valued at over $1 billion. This recognition provided access to special guarantees of up to 20 billion won from the Korea Technology Finance Corporation and opportunities for global investment presentation (IR), often a stepping stone to becoming an actual unicorn.

Kang Ji-young established ROBO ARETE in 2018, a startup specializing in cooking automation solutions using collaborative robots. The company has expanded its reach, exporting to the US, UK, and Mexico. Additionally, Kang operates the innovative Robert Chicken brand, leveraging this technology, and has garnered $8 million (10.5 billion won) in investments.

Lee Hye-seong’s company, AIRS Medical, has made impressive strides by introducing its self-developed medical device software, SwiftMR, to 270 hospitals across 14 countries, including the US, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Founded in 2018, AIRS Medical is regarded as one of the fastest-growing startups, with investments totaling $23 million (30.3 billion won).

Moon Woo-ri, a psychiatrist, launched 40FY in 2020 and introduced Mindling, an online mind care program. In a similar entrepreneurial spirit, Na Jae-hoon founded Tween Nano in 2021, a company that manufactures smart farm facilities. By optimizing thermal efficiency at minimal costs, Tween Nano recently inked a preliminary contract to export 350 smart farm containers worth $8.75 million to Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Group.



Published by : THE CHOSON Daily