It seems like it’s been ages since SparkLabs revealed its intentions to nurture a handful of promising startups in South Korea (it was actually the end of July), but now the accelerator has officially pulled back the curtains on its inaugural class.
As you’d expect, most of these past months have been spent deliberating over the six companies that would participate in the three-month program, but that’s not all the trio of SparkLabs founders have been devoting their time to. The team has also been working to flesh out its honorary advisory board — the early roster included the likes of Mark Cuban and legendary computer scientist Vint Cerf, and SparkLabs has just recently added Arizona State University president Michael Crow and ex-Microsoft CTO/current Talko CEO Ray Ozzie into the mix.
Each of the class’s first six startups will get a place to work (if they don’t already have one), perks courtesy of the Global Accelerator Network, and $25,000 in seed funding — though some of them definitely need it more than others. SparkLabs co-founder Bernard Moon noted that the team was open to applications from startups that had already locked up considerable amounts of funding, so long as the teams behind them had their sights set on the international stage.
So, without any further ado, say hello to SparkLab’s first class (not in any particular order):
- ABLAR Company:ABLAR’s forte is mobile applications, and it has already launched a handful, including Craigslist-esque mobile classified ad service Bulletin, and Reservation King Poing, a Korea-only OpenTable analogue. ABLAR CEO Jungseok Roh previously founded Tatter And Company and helped to create its titular blogging platform (think of the company as Korea’s take on Automattic) before it was acquired by Google’s Korean arm back in 2008.
- Merrywind:There’s no question that South Korea is a major market for games, and a team of Nexon alums broke off to form Merrywind and focus on social gaming in mid-2011. The company has already pushed out its first work — a Facebook game called Hotel Casino — earlier this year, and has a few more titles already in the pipeline.
- KnowRe:The only edtech startup of the bunch, KnowRe is working on a personalized learning platform that adapts to its users’ particular strengths and weaknesses. For now KnowRe seems heavily geared toward bolstering users’ faculty with math, but it’ll be interesting to see how the product evolves as it expands across borders.
- Memebox:Tell me if this sounds familiar: you pay a set monthly fee in order to receive a handsome box full of beauty goodies on your doorstep on a regular basis. There are more than a few startups running with that particular model around these parts, but Memebox has taken off in South Korea (along with rival Glossybox) and now aims to branch out into a handful of new (and hopefully lucrative) Asian markets.
- WePlanet:One of the youngest startups in this batch, WePlanet makes “life-logging” mobile services meant to help users capture interesting moments in their lives as quickly and as simply as possible. The team’s first project is an iOS and Android app called PocketShare that automatically shares photos with a user’s friends, though they may end up having to change the name at some point.
- NFLabs:And last we have NFLabs, which is best known for its Peloton big data platform — it’s meant to help organizations and companies simplify the process of managing and analyzing all of their data. The startup counts SK Broadband and LG U+ (otherwise known as the third largest wireless carrier in South Korea) among its customers, and has inked partnership deals with Hyosung and U.S.-based Hortonworks.