Analysis of Top 5 Korean Domestic Accelerator
January 13, 2015

Often young startups face difficulty in making decisions when they look for the right source for incubating and investments. Even if you are lucky enough to find a VC, explaining your product to someone who has no background knowledge could feel like talking to a wall. To help with these issues, we have prepared a report containing backgrounds, interested fields, and startup development directions for 2015, of top the 5 accelerator in Korea.

http://besuccess.com/2015/01/13/analysis-top-5-korean-domestic-accelerator/

http://besuccess.com/2015/01/13/analysis-top-5-korean-domestic-accelerator/

Primer

-Transitioned to a single CEO (Do-gyun Kwon) structure for 2015.
-Focused on mobile, commerce, ICT, HW-SW Synthesis, healthcare startups.

Primer is Korea's first startup accelerator established by first-generation venture founders with experience of selling IPOs or companies to foreign markets. Primer annually nominated the 'Primer Club' and so far total of 27 teams joined the club in the past 4 years. Out of this club, 4 teams have completed merger and acquisitions. Primer Club holds a meeting with corresponding partners every other week, and this mentoring goes on as long as 6 months.

For the 3rd season of Primer Club, some human resource relocation is to be expected. CEO  Taek-kyoung Lee, Dr. Joong-hwee Ryu, CEO Byung-gyu Jang, and CEO Kang-seok Lee are no longer participating in this season and new members will take their places. CEO Taek-kyoung Lee's departure will leave CEO Do-gyun Kwon to lead alone.  Finance has been increased by 250% since season 2, and a major focus will be towards hardware-software synthesis, healthcare, ICT, mobile, and commerce fields according to Jung-hoon Lee team director.

Taek-kyoung Lee made the decision to work apart from the Primer Club starting this year as a professional angel investor. Unlike other regular VCs, he is planning to focus more in startups with complex components.

1. Major Partner Background

  •  1986, KIA MOTORS - Daycom software engineer
  •  1997, Founded Initech - Internet stock exchange password authentication security company
  •  1998, Founded Inicis - Internet electronic payment service
  •  2000, Founded KMPS(Mobile payment service), KVP(Credit card security service)
  •  2001, Registered Initech on KOSDAQ
  •  2002, Registered Inicis on KOSDAQ
  •  2005, Sold KMPS for $73 million to First Data(US)
  •  2008, Sold Inicis, Initech, Exit
  •  2010, Founded Primer
  •  2014, Joint investment and management in Yellow Mobile and FinTech

CEO Do-gyun Kwon

From his career history, you can see that CEO Kwon is an expert in online, and mobile payment. Through the experience and knowledge accumulated from founding Initech, Inicis, he is expected to have great understanding on the FinTech start-ups. In fact, on JAN 1st, CEO Kwon has jointly invested in FinTech business with Yellow Mobile.

Also, CEO Kwon is an investor who values the essentials and principles when it comes to establishing a company. According to the interview with E-Today last August, he values management over money, sincerity over talent, and principles over experience. What he emphasizes over 6 months of mentoring is the ‘essence of the business’. Therefore, it is better to apply after carefully considering who the clients are, where the market is, why does the client need to buy the product, and if there are any alternatives.

He has two principles for startup, which are “No debt” and “If the service sales doesn’t drop below 50% of the whole sales, quit even on black figures.”. You can understand his philosophy about investments, ventures, and incubating start-ups through [Do-Gyun Kwon’s Start-up Mentoring] column written for the Etnews.

2. Main Portfolio Companies
  •  Wit Studio : Acquired by Line(2013.11)
  •  Quick cat : Acquired by Naver(2013.11)
  •  Teletalkvi : Acquired by Makers(2014.08)
  •  Moncast : Acquired by Makers(2014.08)

= 55.5% Sequential investment attraction from the portfolio companies. Highest success rate in Korea.

3. How to apply

According to Style Share CEO Ja-Young Yoon, from the Primer club, Primer is an accelerator with an active attitude for discovering early stage start-ups. Therefore it is adequate for early stage start-ups that deal with mobile, ICT, health care categories to apply.

Spark Lab

- Whether there's a developer in the foundation members, international expansion potential matters most 
- 5th  class members of Spark Lab now recruiting, IoT specialized accelerator established in Song-do, Incheon

Spark Lab is a global oriented accelerator founded by domestic and foreign entrepreneurs, and has developed 32 early stage startups since 2014. Last November, Spark Lab launched an IoT specialized accelerator in Song-do showing great interests in new technologies. Spark Lab is currently recruiting for 5th class members.

The Spark Lab’s procedure for start-up evaluation is as follows: Executive director Yu-Jin Kim and evaluator Yoon-E Choi first examines the papers, and after the second interview, the partners examine the start-up.

According to the evaluator Yoon-E Choi, the first and second examination proccess is to see whether there is a developer in the foundation members. Spark Lab points out correlations between the availability of developers residing within the team directly to the growth speed of the startups. Spark Lab believes that if the developer is one of the foundation members, the start-up’s growth and expansion possibilities are relatively higher. Teams that outsource the developing and designing parts are viewed as teams with more limitations in Spark Lab’s point of view. Many start-up applicants fail to meet this criteria.

Balance in the team members’ composition is also essential. Spark Lab prefers teams where all members have a definite and different position within the company, designer, developer and a salesman. Teams that consist of all members  being a developer or salesman are excluded from the evaluation.

1. Major Partner Background

In the final process of investment decision-making, co-representatives Ho-Min Kim, Bernard Moon, and Han-Ju Lee will be participating together. Each with different backgrounds, they have different fields of interest.

  •  1998. Co-founded ViewPlus(Video System on demand)
  •  2000. Co-founded HeyAnita Korea(Voice technology company)
  •  2001. Director of Asian Investment Bank
  •  2002. Nexus Capital(Asian early stage business investment
  • venture capital)
  •  2004. Co-founded GoingOn Networks(corporate social media
  • platform)
  •  2004. Mentor of Mucker Lab (LA’s start-up accelerator)
  •  2008. Executive director of Lunsford Group
  •  2011. Co-founded VidQuik(conference, sales solution platform)
  •  2012. Co-founded Spark Lab
  •  2013. Co-founded Spark Lab Global Ventures

CEO Bernard Moon

CEO Bernard Moon, residing in the US, evaluates the investment based entirely on the potential of international expansion. Therefore, he focuses on whether the company is providing services that follow global trends and compares with existing success businesses to evaluate what position a startup needs to take. He has careers both as a platform and technology related entrepreneur and an investor.

CEO Han-Ju Lee

CEO Han-Ju Lee has expertise in marketing, and online ad server technology. Also, as the co-founder of Hostway, world’s top 5 hosting company, he is currently in charge of strategic cooperation, and M&A. It is said that the Spark Lab’s recent investment in On-nuri DMC, mobile targeting ad platform, is based on CEO Lee’s decision.

  • 1998. Co-founded Hostway, Chief vice president of NA
  • 2009. CEO of Affinity Media
  • 2010. Chief vice president of Hostway
  • 2011. CEO of Hostway IDC
  • 2012. Co-founded Spark Lab

CEO Ho-Min Kim

CEO Ho-Min Kim has a history as one of the board members  in Nexon, and as a CEO of Nexonova, Game development studio of the Nexon group, and is interested in game based start-ups. CEO Kim is indicated to highly evaluate startups that discover new fields and develop revolutionary services from them.

  • Director of Nexon Portal
  • CEO of Nexonova
  • 2012. Co-founded N3N
  • 2012  Co-founded Spark Lab
2. Major Porifolio Companies
  • 5Rocks : Acquired by Silicon Valley mobile ad company Tabjoy (2014.08)
  • Mimibox : Participated as Silicon Valley Y Combinator company and attracted investments (2014.02)
  • Nori: 6.8 million dollars sequential investment (2014.10)
  • Mangoplate : Sequential investment from Soft Bank Ventures (2014.10)
3. How to apply

Spark Lab is currently recruiting for 5th class start-up participants. The deadline is until January 30th. Spark Lab is also recruiting partners for the IoT specialized accelerator, and plans to start in April-May. Spark Lab, also an operator of the Tips, selects the Tips start-ups after the demo day when the accelerating program is finishing off.

  • Apply for the 5th class of the Spark Lab : http://www.f6s.com/sparklabs2015springkorean

 

Fast Track Asia

- Is a company builder, building the company together, not just the investments. Investment plans are coming out in February due to internal reorganizations.

- If a team is has a decent attitude, starts investing even without an accurate business model

Founded in 2011, by CEO Hyun-Sung Shin from Ticketmonster, CEO Jung-Suk Noh from Five Rocks, manager Ji-Woong Park from Stone Bridge Capital, Fast Track Asia claims to be the company builder, investing and building early stage start-ups.

Fast Track Asia is more of a company builder rather than an accelerator or a venture capital. They not only make investments, but also co-found companies together, cooperate with existing start-ups, and launch new businesses through partnerships with major corporations. Fast Track Asia is also running a venture education program, Fast Campus as well.

Fast Track Asia will be having a broadscale reorganization at the beginning of the year. According to the manager Hye-Min Ahn, proper internal organization will be established in February. Therefore, detailed plans for 2015 investment plans will be roughly outlined by that time.

1. Major Partner Backgrounds

  •  2011 Team manager of venture investment department in Stonebridge Capital (Led the investments on Ticket Monster, Minjok of Baedal, Five Rocks)
  •  2012 Co-founded Fast Track Asia,  Chief director

 

 

 

CEO Ji-Woong Park

CEO Ji-Woong Park, who has experience as a VC in Stone Bridge Capital, values the attitude of the founder most when evaluating a team. He values passion and will power of the founder over business items, and backgrounds. “If a team is willing to work hard, we choose them even if they don’t have any item on their hands. Men’s tailor made shirts service ‘Stripes’ is a good example” said manager Hye-Min Ahn. The Stripes team was first initiating a completely different item when they first met Fast Track Asia. After endless conversations and idea developing with CEO Park, they have created a tailor made shirt service for busy male workers. Stripes attracted 0.92 million dollars from Smilegate Investment last October, and also succeeded in making profits.

According to an interview with the Midas in 2013, CEO Park said, “Business plan is not that important.Gifted talent always come up with a groundbreaking business plan. Although there are many type of talent, the most important one can execute. People, who bring the good ideas into the real world are scarcer than one could think.” Fast Track Asia is an accelerator with relatively lower entry barrier for those with a good attitude, able to implement passionate even without any specific items or accomplishments.

2. Major Portfolio Companies
  • Stripes : Attracted sequential investment of 0.92 million dollars from Smilegate Investment (2014.10)
  • HelloNature: Attracted sequential investment of 1.3 million dollars from Soft Bank Ventures (2014.09), 0.46 million dollars from CEO Jong-Suk Lee (2014.11)
3. How to Apply

Currently, you can only apply on the official account via e-mail. Due to the large number of inquiries, they will only contact the teams that have gained their interest. There will be no additional points for taking classes in the Fast Campus.

Official E-mail Account : operation(@)fast-track.asia

Apply for global market oriented venture business R&D program(business plan of any form) : plan(@)fast-track.asia

 

Future Play

- The most tech-savvy accelerator in Korea, favorable for those with advanced degrees

- Promotes prep entrepreneurs for 1 year with full salary

FuturePlay is the only tech-oriented company builder in Korea. It was founded by CEO Joong-Hee Ryu from Olaworks in order to improve the situation where establishing businesses has become a hot potato while many Korean start-ups and researchers possess excellent techniques and ideas.

They run the program called IIR (Inventor-In-Residence), which provides prep entrepreneurs with foundation and spin-off mentoring while paying full salary for 1 year.

FuturePlay has the highest tech expert ratio among domestic angels and accelerators. The in-house experts including product planners, financial experts, marketers, patent attorneys, lawyers, etc. who are essential for starting the company-mentors entrepreneurs for establishing a successful company. This makes FuturePlay different  from other accelerators.

Jae-Sun Han, CTO of FuturePlay, said, “We will be a great assistance to those developers with great technology but facing difficulty in marketing, business model, and constructing team organization.  Since most of the FuturePlay’s partners are technical experts with Ph.D.s, we are most likely the accelerator with the highest understanding of technology in the country.”

It is actually one of the FuturePlay’s goals to gradually solve the problem of  which the venture investments and evaluations are made based on the number of users and sales of the company, due to lack of technical understanding. As a current Tips operator, FuturePlay has supported 7 companies through the Tips program, and 4 through general investments since last April.

1. Major Partner Background

  •  2006. Founded Olaworks(Image recognition technology company)
  •  2012. Sold Olaworks for 32 million dollars to Intel
  •  2014. Founded FuturePlay

 

 

 

 

CEO Joong-Hee Ryu

CEO Joong-Hee Ryu has the background of founding Olaworks, an image recognition technology company and therefore has expertise on image processing, analyzing techniques. He has also been lecturing on UI, UX for a long time. CEO Ryu was also selected as the ‘Walking venture confirm institute’ by the government last September. Until last September, he has been discovering domestic start-ups that weren’t spotlighted through [Start-ups beloved by experts with Joong-Hee Ryu] corner in the ETnews.

 

  •  2007. Founded Nexr(Big data, cloud company), Professor of KAIST
  •  2011. Sold Nexr to KT
  •  2014. CTO of the FuturePlay

 

 

 

 

CTO Jae-Sun Han

CTO Jae-Sun Han is an expert on data processing who majored in big data, cloud computing, machine running and data processing. He then founded Nexr and sold it to KT. After his doctorate program, he sensed the Web 2.0 trend and created the Web 2.0 meeting with KAIST students and researchers. As the CTO of FuturePlay, he is currently in charge of operating and managing internal development organization.

Like CEO Ryu, CTO Han is currently working with the start-up media Besuccess on domestic tech start-up’s technology based interview in the [TechInside] section.

According to the interview with beSUCCESS, he said, “The ultimate goal of FuturePlay is to create an environment for tech start-ups to grow. We will try hard to connect developers with the start-ups, propagate nice developing cultures, and provide nourishment for the developers to try out ventures more easily.”

CCO Sung-Jae Hwang

CCO Sung-Jae Hwang is the very person who developed a patent on his own and closed a licensing deal with a major corporation ever since he was a graduate student in KAIST.  CCO Hwang has published 30 papers about UX in mobile, wearable, and IoT environments and HCI, and has announced about 300 patents, among which 10 of them were successfully sold to domestic and foreign companies. He has announced the largest number of patents since the foundation of KAIST, and at the same time, introduced the biggest number of technologies to corporations. He is currently operating a meeting about new UX of future technology, sharing new ideas and the technical values.

FuturePlay selects start-ups to support unanimously with CIO Kyung-Min Yoon, CLO Ho-Suk Jung, total of 5 partners.

 

2. Major Portfolio Companies
  • Keukey: Won the Grand prize in creative economy, ‘Presidential Prize’ (2014.11)
  • Podo Labs: 1st place in US Plug and Play
  • Huinno : Most convenient, accurate and fastest blood pressure checking smart watch
  • Bitfinder : Top 20 on BeLaunch 2014 Start-up Battle
3. How to Apply

FuturePlay is always applicable by e-mail without any special program recruiting. You can find out the details in the FuturePlay website. They have the tendency to visit graduate schools and corporations to discover and select capable people. This year, FuturePlay is planning to search for prep tech start-ups in more various ways.

Official E-mail Account : info@futureplay.co

 

D3 Jubilee

- Social venture sepecialized accelerator, operates D3 Impact Engine program
- Advantageous for social ventures handling healthcare, sharing economy, new renewable energy

D3 Jubilee is a domestic impact investment facility investing in social ventures, and runs a social venture support program ‘D3 Impact Engine’.

Among the social ventures, they focus their accelerating mostly on the fields of healthcare, sharing economy, new renewable energy and are also interested in smart educations. They not only invest in domestic social ventures, but also in the ones in Kenya, Republic of Haiti, Tanzania, Peru, Indio.

2nd class members of the Impact Engine program were provided with 4 months of the workshop, mentoring, pitching opportunities. Jung-Hyun Kim, founder of Delight, Seung-Hwan Oh, co-founder of Naver, Pil-Goo Yoon, CEO of Big Basin Capital, Han Kim, CEO of Altos Ventures, and Jae-Hyun Kim, co-representative of Crevisse Partners participated as mentors.

1.  Major Partner Background

  • 2000. Vice President of City Bank
  • 2005. CFO of Gmarket
  • 2011. Founded D3Jubilee
  • 2012. Director of Zozi
  • 2014. Partner of Big Basin Capital

 

 

CEO Duk-Jun Lee

While there are not many accelerators specializing in social ventures, CEO Duk-Jun Lee, who has the background as a CFO in Gmarket and as a VC in Big Basin Capital, connects the social enterprises and venture capitals through his investors’ network. Looking at D3  Jubilee’s portfolio, we can see that he invests mainly in social ventures that generate actual sales profit.

Partner Jae-Hyun Kim

  • 2002. Founded Crevisse Partners
  • 2011. Senior Vice President of Kyowon Group
  • 2011. Co-founded D3 Jubilee

Partner Jae-Hyun Kim, currently a CEO of social renovative venture investment company Crevisse Partners, is also a co-founder of D3 Jubilee. There is a close connection between the Crevisse Partners and D3 Jubilee, which is the fact that 3 teams of 1st and 2nd class members are from Crevisse Partners. According to analyst Hae-Dong Shin, enterprises incubated by Crevisse in the early stages apply for D3 Jubilee to attract larger scale investments. TreePlanet, FriendTrip, BringYourCup applied this way.

2. Major Portfolio Companies
  • TreePlanet : Created 32 Star-Forests in Seoul, won ‘Seoul Innovation Prize’(2014.12)
  • BringYourCup : Selected as ‘Environmental prep social enterprise’ by Ministry of Environment(2014.12)
3. How to Apply

D3 Jubilee is mostly recruiting towards year-end through impact Engine's classified section and posting. You can also submit via email. According to analyst Shin, many of the program participants got the opportunity by the introduction of an acquaintance. Start-ups introduced by a reliable source are more likely to bring good results, because they have already been examined at least once before. In the case of social ventures, networking in the social venture area becomes vital, since there aren’t many enterprises making eye-opening profits in short terms.

Official E-mail Account: info@d3jubilee.com

 

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