SparkLabs Korea, a Seoul-based startup accelerator, held a demo day for its 19th cohort of companies on Thursday. The final demo day marks its tenth year after SparkLabs launched its accelerator program in December 2012. The Accelerator has backed more than 270 startups since its inception in 2012, SparkLabs co-founder and partner Eugene Kim told TechCrunch.
The program has two cohorts per year – one starting in January and the other in June – Kim said, adding that the program lasts 16 weeks.
SparkLabs admits 10-15 companies per cohort and invests up to $100,000 in each startup in exchange for 6% equity. Kim noted that the investment is made either with a SAFE (simple agreement for future equity) or a stock purchase agreement – a decision that is up to the startup to make.
During its program, SparkLabs provides funding, mentorship, and access to administrative and legal advisory support for startups. Additionally, participating startups get coworking space, attend weekly classes, and have access to four to six mentors who have expertise in various industries, not only in South Korea but in regions around the world.
SparkLabs, a member of the Global Accelerator Network (GAN), has used international best practices for accelerators from the start, Kim said. He added that his partners and mentors are all former entrepreneurs and have global business experience in the United States and Asia.
The accelerator also runs other government-backed programs like TIPS, a technology incubator program for startups in South Korea, and runs later-stage investment funds, Kim noted.
SparkLabs started in Korea to find and help local Korean startups in their seed stage and help them go global. Although the majority are based in Korea, the accelerator attracts candidates from other countries seeking or planning to enter Korea or Asia, according to Kim.
When asked if SparkLabs Korea is a subsidiary of SparkLabs Group, Kim replied that it is not a group structure. Each accelerator entity, such as SparkLabs Korea, SparkLabs Taiwan, and SparkLabs Cultiv8, is a separate entity with its own accelerator fund.
Kim said in an interview with TechCrunch that because the program focuses on early-stage startups, some teams are pivoting or changing their business focus as they try to find product market fit (PMF).
“Not all teams end up pitching on demo day. If teams feel like they want to focus on building their traction or PMF, they can choose to put on a demo later,” Kim said.
Here is the list of nine companies from the most recent cohort of SparkLabs. The 19th cohort ends with a demonstration day on November 3.
- Vetflux: A veterinary telehealth platform that provides an artificial intelligence-based chatbot for veterinary clinics and pet owners. It offers two apps connecting veterinarians with their patients. The Vetflux app allows pet owners to get the latest information on animal care, while the other, called Vetflux+, helps veterinarians organize workflows.
- Amondycare: Amondycare’s app allows mental health therapists to manage their workflows and administrative work, from patient appointments to sales.
- YCircle: A social app, Kevin’s Club, helps students make the most of their college life outside of the library or dorms. YKring says it lets users find out what’s going on in the community to find clubs or a group of people with similar interests to do activities together. YKring, which launched its service in January, says it has over 2,500 users with $35,000 in sales as of October 2022. Its monthly subscription is around $20.
- DataBean: This startup is developing a cooling system for data centers. Its SmartBox service enables thermal management.
- Fasket: Fasket is a fast-commerce startup that operates an instant grocery delivery business in South Korea.
- In life: Gyverse is developing a refrigerator for dry-aged meat using IoT and AI. Users can dry aging beef at home by linking Gyverse’s smart devices to its app to monitor temperature and humidity.
- Move: A 3D motion marketplace that allows users to access and purchase 3D motion data sources for metaverse, games, movies, animation, and augmented reality usage.
- R-Materials: R-Material’s platform, called the hybrid generator system, allows solar and wind to convert energy sources.
- MyShop Cloud: an online-to-offline (O2O) platform that wants to digitize the dried fish value chain, from the wholesale market to the retail market. Its Dasiwoorida service, which analyzes the price of dried fish and transactions, recommends products to customers.
SparkLabs is currently open for applications for its Batch 20 program until November 11. The Accelerator will finalize its selections in December and is expected to start Batch 20 in January.
South Korea, which attracts the third-largest amount of venture capital funding in Asia — around $6.45 billion a year — after China and India, currently has 16 unicorns to date.
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