Start-up investment platform nr2, which gives businesses and investors AI-enabled insights into South Korea and China’s most promising and innovative start-ups, has raised capital for expansion from new investors, including Lord Rothschild and Sir Simon Robey.
The cross-border investment platform will use the funding to accelerate growth, expand its team of AI engineers and develop its AI-powered search engine.
Investor Maxim Parr and entrepreneur Jordan Monnet founded nr2 in 2019, leveraging 20 years of international experience in investment and AI, to build cutting-edge search algorithms to source start-ups in Asia. The search engine provides data and insights into the booming South Korean and Chinese start-up ecosystems, removing cultural language barriers to highlight the most promising start-ups.
With well over 200,000 start-ups between the two countries, China and South Korea are at the forefront of innovation. South Korea’s vibrant start-up scene has doubled its unicorns (businesses worth over $1 billion) in the last three years alone. This includes home-grown gaming company NCSoft which develops games played by hundreds of millions of people worldwide. In China, there are over 230 unicorns, some of which, like SenseTime, are pushing the boundaries of AI. nr2’s founders realised there was a need to help Western corporates and investors overcome information barriers and demystify these high-growth and high-potential markets.
Maxim Parr, Executive Chairman of nr2, said: “South Korea and China have witnessed a huge cultural, digital and economic transformation over the last decade, giving rise to the creation of disruptive businesses that the Western world needs to embrace now, or potentially miss out on.”
Jordan Monnet, CEO of nr2, said: “Most of the information available in countries like China and South Korea is naturally in the local languages. Over the course of two years, we have gone from a rudimentary Chinese language algorithm to a fully fleshed out trilingual search engine able not only to find and index information, but also to enable investors to find companies that meet their personal investment criteria.”
nr2’s free data platform is used in over 100 countries by investors and corporates trying to identify and understand start-ups from China and South Korea. It works with organisations including L’Oréal, Pernod Ricard and the World Economic Forum to help them stay ahead of emerging tech trends and find technology start-ups in the region.
Lord Rothschild, who has invested in nr2 commented: “Maxim and Jordan have developed a way to identify at an early-stage Asian companies that will have a global footprint in three years’ time. I look forward to seeing what nr2 is able to achieve with this investment.”
Sir Simon Robey, also part of the seed round, said: “Cross-border innovation for global corporations has never been more important. nr2’s technology enables corporations to see disruptive start-ups in two of the world’s most innovative markets and find a way to engage with them.”
nr2 originated in the HEC Paris business incubator located in Station F, the world’s largest start-up campus. nr2’s technology went on to win the K-Startup Grand Challenge, a global competition organised by the South Korean Government, beating over 1,500 companies from 95 countries.