“What separates us from other accelerators in Korea is the fact that we focus on global startups. You might say that everyone wants to go global, but startups in Korea are very focused locally.”
Eugene Kim, SparkLabs
Founded in December 2012, SparkLabs provides a small investment, mentoring and workspace in exchange for an equity stake in a company. The equity investment is equal to $25K and the equity stake does not exceed 6%. The program lasts for three months and runs twice a year. SparkLabs has currently operated 3 batches. Already, one company has been acquired (5Rocks), around 30 companies have graduated and around $75 million has been raised in follow-on funding.
“We are all doing the same thing. We are all trying to help.”
The SparkLabs’ motto “entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs” depicts its uniqueness among Seoul-based accelerators, as the leading team consists only of experienced entrepreneurs. Startup founders are guided by global mentors, such as Charles and Kai Huang, the founders of Guitar Hero or Sungmoon Cho Principal Product Manager at Oracle. Moreover, SparkLabs has a formidable roster of mentors overseas.
Memebox is probably Sparklabs’ most promising company to date. Memebox is a subscription beauty e-commerce service. With global headquarters now in San Francisco, Memebox enables its customers to use luxury Korean and global cosmetics at affordable prices. The company raised $1.3 million of funding in 2 rounds from 7 investors and is currently operating in Korea, the USA and China.
“We are going to continue as a general accelerator but we do feel that the next big thing, the next big era of the Internet is IoE- Internet of Everything.”
Only officially announced last week, SparkLabs will open their new, hardware-focused accelerator in Songdo, the “smart city”. As IoT-focus requires prototyping, manufacturing, and very specialized knowledge, the accelerator will have a different structure, personnel, and mentorship program. The opening is planned for early 2015.
“We live in Korea-the most wired country in the world. Cloud, infrastructure, manufacturing, and talent-everything is there. Now, we plan to put it all together.”