SparkLabs Korea, a seed to early-stage accelerator based in Seoul, held a demo Day on Thursday for its 19th cohort of companies. The latest demo day marks its tenth year since 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 a year – one starting in January and the other in June – Kim said, adding that the program is 16 weeks long.
SparkLabs admits 10 to 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 in either a SAFE (simple agreement for future equity) or 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. In addition, participating startups will get a co-working space, attend weekly classes and have access to four to six mentors with expertise in various industries, not only in South Korea but globally region.
SparkLabs, a member of the global accelerator network (GAN), uses international best practices for accelerators from the start, Kim said. He added that its partners and advisors are all former entrepreneurs and have global business experience in both the US and Asia.
The accelerator also runs other government-backed programs such as TIPS, a tech incubator program for startups in South Korea, and manages later-stage investment funds, Kim said.
SparkLabs started in Korea to find and help local Korean startups in their seed stage and help them go global. Although most are based in Korea, the accelerator gets applicants from other countries who are looking or planning to enter Korea or Asia, according to Kim.
When asked if SparkLabs Korea is a subsidiary of SparkLabs Group, Kim said 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 while the program focuses on early-stage seed startups, some teams pivot or change their business focus as they try to find product market fit (PMF).
“Not all teams end up pitching on demo day. If teams feel they want to focus on building their traction or PMF, they can choose to pitch on the next demo day,” said said Kim.
Here is a list of the nine companies in the latest cohort at SparkLabs. The 19th cohort concludes with a demo day on November 3.
- Vetflux: A telehealth veterinary platform that provides an artificial intelligence-based chatbot for veterinary clinics and pet owners. It offers two apps that connect veterinarians with their pet patients. The Vetflux app is for pet owners to get the latest information about pet care, while another, called Vetflux +, is for veterinarians to organize workflows .
- Amondycare: Amondycare’s app allows mental health therapists to manage their workflows and administrative work from patient appointments to sales.
- YKring: A social app, Kevin’s Club, helps college students make the most of their college life outside of the library or dorms. YKring says it allows users to find out what’s going on in the community to find clubs or groups of people with similar interests to do activities together. YKring, which launched its service in January, claims it has more than 2,500 users with $35,000 in sales as of October 2022. Its monthly subscription fee is ~$20.
- DataBean: This startup develops a cooling system for data centers. Its SmartBox service allows for thermal management.
- Fasket: Fasket is a fast commerce startup that operates an instant grocery delivery business in South Korea.
- Gyverse: Gyverse builds refrigerator for dry-aged meat using IoT and AI. Users can dry age the cow at home by interconnecting Gyverse smart devices with its app to monitor temperature and humidity.
- Movers: A 3D motion marketplace that allows users to access and purchase 3D motion data sources for metaverse, game, film, animation and augmented reality use.
- R-Materials: R-Material’s platform, called the Hybrid-generator system, allows solar and wind to convert electricity sources.
- MyShop Cloud: An online to offline (O2O) platform that wants to digitize the value chain of dried fish, from wholesale to retail market. Its service Dasiwoorida, which analyzes the price and transactions of dried fish, recommends products for customers.
SparkLabs is currently open to applications for its 20th batch program until November 11. The accelerator will finalize its selections in December and the 20th batch will begin in January.
South Korea, which attracts the third largest amount of venture capital funding in Asia — about $6.45 billion annually — after China and India, currently has 16 unicorns to date.