[5 Questions] Soojin Lim of Dunamu & Partners
While best known for the Upbit exchange, Dunamu has a diverse range of businesses focused on blockchain and financial technology. In 5 Questions, we share the ins and outs of these businesses by talking with the people who shape them.
For the first edition, we chat with Soojin Lim, a partner at Dunamu & Partners. Lim was formerly a Director for Ebates and TMON.
Q. Tell us a little bit about Dunamu & Partners.
A. Dunamu & Partners (D&P) is a subsidiary of Dunamu that specializes in startup investments. We’re particularly focused on the blockchain and fintech sectors as well as industries primed for blockchain implementation, such as logistics, marketing, commerce, and content. We launched in March 2018 and our current investment portfolio consists of more than 30 companies. In addition to investments, another role D&P serves within Dunamu is to create new business opportunities by identifying key industry trends and relaying it to relevant teams.
Q. What does your day-to-day at D&P look like? Guessing that there are a lot of meetings with prospective companies.
A. It changes from day-to-day, but yes, there are definitely a lot of meetings. As I mentioned, we’ve invested in more than 30 companies in a little less than two years, a rate of more than one each month. That might not sound like a lot but getting to one investment decision involves meetings with dozens of companies and a great deal of vetting and due diligence work as well. Another big part of our job is to provide support to the companies in our portfolio so they can continue to grow and reach their full potential.
Q. What kind of support do you provide post-investment? Is it mostly in an advisory capacity?
A. It varies greatly by company. Since the partners at our company have ample operations background, we are at times very hands-on involved and work together with companies to review the entire marketing acquisition funnel, review the UX/UI of a soon-to-launch product, and identify potential investors or partnership targets. Other times, it’s general advice, or even just morale support. We look at all the companies as partners and try to find suitable solutions to whatever their particular needs are at the time. What stage the company is in matters as well. Larger, more established companies may want a certain amount of autonomy while early-stage startups might have a wide range of needs simultaneously.
“We look at all the companies as partners and try to find suitable solutions to whatever their particular needs are at the time.”
Q. Being a people person is obviously a big part of your job. What would you say are some other key traits or qualifications?
A. There are elements of the job that’s not unlike a popularity contest, meaning you have to give companies reasons to choose you over the other VCs. The three partners at D&P, including our CEO Ryan, pride ourselves in always being authentic and honest in we communicate with the companies. At the same time, we each have individual strengths and experiences that translate into appealing qualities for prospective companies. For example, I held various management roles at global e-commerce firms before joining D&P. While it’s an atypical background compared to others in the VC industry, it also means I have personal experience dealing with a lot of the concerns our partners are facing, whether it’s generating revenue, budget management, or customer acquisition. I think the fact that I can view things from their perspective is something our partners really appreciate.
Q. What’s something you’re really looking forward to in 2020?
A. We think a number of companies in our portfolio are set to break out in 2020, especially in the fintech arena. There’s a willing userbase open to new fintech services, and with regulators introducing startup-friendly systems such as open banking and small licenses, it’s a great environment for innovative companies to compete with traditional financial players. One thing we’ve noticed from our various meetings is that there’s a continuous stream of bright, young entrepreneurs launching new and exciting projects, and we’re really excited for all the new projects that await us in 2020.