SparkLabs has unveiled the latest group of startups participating in its Seoul-based accelerator program. The current batch includes locally-based companies, as well as teams from Tokyo, San Francisco and Chicago. SparkLabs alumni previously profiled by TechCrunch include edutech startup KnowRe, personal journaling app Step Journal and fantasy stock trading community TrakInvest.
SparkLabs recently launched a $30 million seed stage fund called SparkLabs Global to focus on emerging economies throughout the world, but its accelerator’s mission continues to be raising the profile of Seoul’s fledgling startup ecosystem. South Korea’s tech industry is best known for hardware giants like Samsung and LG, but more Internet startups are hatching in the country. Spearheaded by a group of Korean-American entrepreneurs, SparkLabs seeks to provide founders with a network of mentors on par with the ones their peers in Silicon Valley have access to, in addition to angel funding and non-financial resources.
SparkLabs’ latest roster of startups represent sectors including wearable tech, telecom, online gaming and medical devices. They are:
- Tokyo-based FeelU, which creates wearable devices including RingU, an interactive ring that lets you give people you miss a “hug” no matter how far away from each other you are. RingU is connected to a private social network that also allows people to share messages, photos and videos.
- Flow State Media is a social and mobile game studio with a staff that includes former employees from Zynga, as well as MIT alumni. The startup’s casual games for mobile and PC devices include Letter UP, which was released at the end of June and has already logged more than 1.5 million minutes of gameplay. Flow State Media is currently preparing a “fresh take” on social casino games for release later this year.
- Based in Chicago, Freenters wants to make life easier for college students by providing free printing services. After launching in the Chicago area, they will expand to major campuses across the U.S.
- South Korean startup Penta Press, which wants to become the “Getty Images of Asia,” is a platform that collects photos from a network of professional photographers in 25 countries and distributes them to domestic and foreign media organizations. It has already signed partnerships with companies including Yonhap, South Korea’s largest news agency, Daum, the country’s second-largest Internet portal and JiJi Press in Japan.
- Seoul-based Domo Bio is the maker of SNR.X, a medical device that helps treat sleep apnea and snoring.
- Mobile music recommendation service 1Day 1Song introduces one new song each day to users based on their preferences. The app is already available in the Korean App Store and will be released in other Asia countries as well.
- Online talent marketplace PeopleWare was launched by Yong Hyoung, a co-founder of social network CyWorld. The startup is creating a marketplace to match MVP (minimum viable product) projects and engineers from Asia and other regions through each user’s networks.
- Based in Palo Alto and founded by a senior data scientist from Twitter, Right Zip is an online home rental platform that uses machine learning algorithms to match potential tenants with property owners. You can sign up for the site’s beta version here.
- RingCL is based in Seoul and is a BaaS (backend as service) company that provides communication services for businesses. RingCL allows its clients to set up a mobile sevrvice only with API calls without having to set up servers.