Korean startup accelerator SparkLabs launched today, lighting the way for Korea’s aspiring entrepreneurs to enter the international technology community.
The program will follow the example of prestigious US accelerators like Y-Combinator, TechStars, and 500 Startups, which are founded on a mentorship model. SparkLabs participants will have access to an elite and knowledgable network where they can solicit valuable guidance, connections, and resources.
Mentors include angel investor Mark Cuban, VP at Google Vint Cerf, Managing Partner of SV Angel David Lee, and a host of other illustrious figures on the technology scene. SparkLabs will also offer funding and office space, as well as English language education and legal advice.
While Korea has a thriving technology scene, a majority of the promising young talent heads to large companies like LG, Samsung, or Hyundai. After the dotcom bust, many Koreans were hesitant about starting companies and thus the startup scene is just beginning to emerge.
“The timing is just right,” said founder Bernard Moon, who is also a contributing author for VentureBeat. “Koreans are traditionally focused on educational achievement, security, and working for big name companies. Now there is a growing awareness of the world outside Korea. We want to provide connectivity for young entrepreneurs and support globally minded companies.”
Founders Moon, Hanjoo Lee, and James Kim are all entrepreneurs who have experienced first hand the challenges of building companies, making connections, raising venture capital, and scaling products. SparkLabs aims to promote a culture of innovation in Korea while also giving fledgling businesses the tools to succeed.
The accelerator will focus on companies in the Internet, gaming, mobile, commerce, and digital media sectors. It is part of the Global Accelerator Network which consists of 50 top startup accelerators from around the world. SparkLabs is the first member of the network in Korea. It has also partnered with DEMO and DEMO China to fast track the application process for its member companies.
Applications will open on August 30, 2012.