Korean Startup Accelerator SparkLabs Reveals Its Second Intake

Posted: May 22, 2013 in GT
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SparkLabs, the startup accelerator that wants to
inject South Korea’s startup ecosystem with Silicon
Valley expertise, announced its second intake today.
Its latest class is an international lineup of companies
that represent a variety of sectors and are at widely
different stages of funding, from bootstrapped financing to those that have closed a Series A round. Founded in 2012, SparkLabs’ offers a three-month-
long mentorship driven program. Co-founder Bernard
Moon says that one of the main challenges faced by
South Korea’s startup industry is the lack of role
models and guidance for founders. For example,
many angel investors and venture capitalists have a financial background but lack entrepreneurial
experience. SparkLabs has focused on building an
impressive roster of mentors, many of whom are
Silicon Valley founders. “We’re not the first accelerator or incubator in South
Korea, but we are the first with a tangible outside
network that is easily accessible by Korean
entrepreneurs,” says Moon. “We also get applications
from China, India, Taiwan, everywhere in Asia. Our
dream is to be a gateway not just into Silicon Valley, but also to high-level people these founders never
thought it would be possible to access.” While SparkLabs’ first class consisted of South
Korean companies hoping to break into overseas
markets, the latest intake include companies from
Singapore and the U.S. that view South Korea as a
gateway into Asia. “They see South Korea as more developed in terms
of technology and a large early adopter base. A good
foothold and feedback in South Korea helps them
expand into Japan and possibly China,” says Moon. SparkLabs is also hosting its first annual conference,
NEXT, on June 14 in Seoul. The event will focus on
innovation and technology, with speakers including
Ray Ozzie, the founder and CEO of Talko, Richard
Florida, author of “The Rise of the Creative Class,”
Maria G. Gotsch, president and CEO of Partnership Fund for New York City and Jonathan Levine, CIO
and CTO of Rakuten Group. SparkLabs’ inaugural cohort included educational tech
startup KnowRe and WePlanet, the developers of
Step Journal. Here is its second class: StyleWiki: A Seoul-based social wiki platform for
fashion enthusiasts. iBabyBox: A Palo Alto-based online community where
parents can share and sell secondhand baby
products. Megaphone: Founded in New York City, this
participation TV platform’s clients include NBC,
Bravo, BBC, Amex, LG, Sprint, NFL and the New
York Knicks. Megaphone integrates game graphics
that can be controlled by Web browsers into TV
shows and allows viewers to see aggregated results of all user activity and 30-second ads in real-time. MangoPlate: A mobile app that offers personalized
restaurant recommendations in Seoul. Its search
engine fine-tunes results each time a user adds a
review or wish-list entry. Zoyi: A Korean tech company that has built products
including AdbyMe, Korea’s first social media
advertising platform and Cooki, a news summary
curation service. Zoyi is backed by StoneBridge
Capital, a leading Korean venture capital firm. HeyBread: One of Korea’s leading curation commerce
companies, HeyBread focuses on delivering premium
organic breads from local bakeries to customers. The
company plans to expand its service to the entire
fresh food industry. Petsbe: A Seoul-based premium subscription service
that delivers personalized orders of pet food and
monthly supplies. Lateral: Headquartered in San Francisco, Lateral
wants to redefine the fundamentals of online search
by revamping outdated search methods. DesignPlusD: A Seoul-based productivity app that
includes note taking, alarm reminder and calendar
functions. The company’s Remember-Block memo
app was the App Store’s number one productivity
apps in 12 countries and was the top paid app in
South Korea during January. TrakInvest: A Singaporean online social investment
platform for equities that will be launched next month.
The company, which is led Bobby Bhatia, the former
managing director and head of principal investments
at AIG for APAC, provides tools to identify and create
future “alpha” generators. It has partnered with Thomson Reuters to provide research and analytics
to its user base.

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