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SparkLabs Korea

SparkLabs Korea Presents Third Demo Day, Launches Hardware Accelerator In Seoul

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SparkLabs Korea launched just 18 months ago, but the Seoul-based accelerator already has a strong track record of finding promising startups. Its third Demo Day today featured companies that develop wearable technology, medical devices, and mobile games.

Alumni of SparkLabs Korea include beauty subscription service Memebox, which was not only the first startup accepted into Y Combinator, one of the top three companies voted by its colleagues there as the most likely to succeed, and KnowRe, an adaptive learning platform that raised $1.4 million from SoftBank.

SparkLabs also announced today that it will launch a program this winter dedicated to the Internet of Things, which will seek to connect hardware and software manufacturers to research and engineering resources in Asia. The accelerator already runs a separate $30 million fund called SparkLabs Global to identify promising early-stage startups around the world, which it announced last October.

Here are the companies that appeared at SparkLabs Korea’s Demo Day today:

Flow State Media is a cross-platform mobile social gaming studio made up of MIT alumni and former Zynga employees. It debuted a game called “Bingo Cube” today, which features a spinning bingo board shaped like a cube, that will launch this summer.

Flow State Media’s titles already include live multiplayer crossword “Letter UP,” which is synchronous for two to four players. It has been played over two million times and claims six times the average revenue per user (ARPU) for Facebook games. A new 10-minute version called “Letter UP Rush” claims to be the fastest Scrabble-like game ever made.

The startup, which also makes “Candy Cane Casino,” is currently raising its second round of funding and aspires to be one of the premiere casual gaming studios in the world.

domobio’s customizable product, called QT33, is a non-surgical treatment for snoring and sleep apnea, which can lead to health problems like heart disease, headaches, fatigue, and depression.

QT33, which resembles a plastic retainer and spent 10 years in research and development, is meant as a less invasive, cheaper alternative to surgery and NCPAP (nasal continuous positive airway pressure) machines. It stabilizes the lower jaw and secures airflow through the user’s teeth. QT33 claims a 90% success rate from initial users and plans to launch in the U.S. this year. The startup is currently looking for investors and distribution partners.

FeelU is a wearable tech company that wants to add a “multi-sensory” layer, including non-verbal communication and touch, to the Internet. Its first product is RingU, an interactive ring that is connected to a private social network and can be used to give loved ones a remote hug in real-time. RingU is also planning other apps like interactive concert integration so fans can interact more closely with performers.

Pentapress provides professional quality photos for international media outlets. The startup, which currently has 40 photographers based around the world and will add multi-lingual services at the end of this year, plans to launch a new platform called Incupix (short for “incubating pictures”) which will let amateur photographer share photos and potentially get them picked up by newspapers and other publications. It also provides mentoring and editing services for amateur photographers. Incupix will launch in June 2014.

Freenters is a Chicago-based startup that provides free printing services to students. “Everyone thinks printing is a dying industry, but any college student knows that printing will never go away,” co-founder Paul Park said during Demo Day, adding that it is targeting a $13 billion market.

Freenters, which got 3,000 users in 10 days during a trial at the University of Chicago, monetizes with targeted banner ads and coupons on the bottom margins of required reading, term paper drafts, and whatever else students use the service to print.

It currently has 86 advertising partners, including Citibank and Papa John’s. Students can also print ad-free papers by watching a video ad or taking a survey.  Freenters has already launched in 10 universities and plans to expand further to campuses in Boston, New York, and other East Coast cities. It is now seeking $500,000 in funding.

PeopleWare is a “people-based” network for professionals. The site wants to differentiate from competitors like eLance, Freelancer.com, and LinkedIn by grouping connections by the projects they worked on. Unlike LinkedIn, users cannot add connections based on requests. Instead, they can only add people they have worked on specific projects with, which PeopleWare says results in higher-quality networks.

It currently has 100 beta users in Korea, as well as 100 in the U.S. and Israel. PeopleWare plans to expand globally by the end of this year. Its team includes the co-founder and former CEO of Cyworld, Korea’s top social networking site.

1Day1Song is a Korean music discovery app that recently launched and already has over 64,000 monthly active users on iOS. The service wants to focus on introducing music beyond the tracks and artists that are being heavily promoted by major music companies.

For 24 hours, the app plays a song from its artist of the day and displays exclusive background information provided by the performer. Founded by former Apple and Deezer employees, 1Day1Song will produce an Android version this summer and plans to expand to Taiwan and China first.

Photo by Valentin Janiaut on Flickr used under a Creative Commons license