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Nearly half of South Korea's startup founders hail from prominent universities: report

Students and family members take photos at the main enterance to Seoul National University after a graduation ceremony last Friday. (Yonhap)
Students and family members take photos at the main enterance to Seoul National University after a graduation ceremony last Friday. (Yonhap)
A local survey showed around half of local startup founders are from the country’s four most prominent universities, implying that educational background could play an important role in starting a new business here.

“Many people easily associate startup founders with their individual talents or abilities rather than their educational backgrounds. (But data underlines) that the startup sector here is skewed towards certain universities,” said Park Ju-gun, industry tracker CEO Score’s CEO.

His firm collected data about123 entrepreneurs from 115 startups in South Korea and asked their educatioal background. Of the 90 who answered, nearly half, 43, were from Seoul National University, Korea University, Yonsei University and Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology graduates.

The most, 18, graduated from Seoul National University. The number of KAIST graduates was 10, followed by nine Yonsei University graduates and six Korea University graduates.

About 30 percent of up-and-coming startup founders here had formerly worked at large conglomerates, the data also showed.

Of the 70 startup founders who disclosed their career information, more than 30 percent were from Samsung Group, LG Group, Daewoo Group, Hyundai Group and KT.

The number of startup founders who previously worked at Samsung Group was 13, accounting for the largest portion of 18.6 percent.

Meanwhile, the survey also found a big gender gap in the startup sector. Of the 123 startup founders, the number of men was 116, making up 94.3 percent, while the number of women was seven, or 5.7 percent.

By Shim Woo-hyun (ws@heraldcorp.com)
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