A record number of venture businesses earned more than W100 billion in revenues last year (US$1=W1,138).
The government on Tuesday said the number of venture companies with annual revenues over W100 billion stood at 513 in 2016, and the growth rate was the highest seen in five years. They are mostly tech start-ups.
Big conglomerates have seen their average sales decline for the past three years, but innovative new firms are bucking the trend and breathing new life into the Korean economy.
These companies employed 193,490 workers between them, up more than eight percent from 2015, contributing to job growth amid tough employment conditions nationwide as big businesses steadily cut back on new hires.
The government polled 61,301 companies that were recognized as venture businesses since 1998.
Another positive trend is that these profitable small firms are becoming less dependent on the big conglomerates for their sales. As of 2015, 23.1 percent said half of their revenues came from big conglomerates, compared to 30.1 percent in 2010.
Huh Young-koo at the Korea Venture Business Association said, "A growing number of companies armed with innovative ideas and technologies are emerging from the shadows of major conglomerates and pursuing independent growth."