SparkLabs founded its first accelerator in Seoul four years ago. Now it’s ready to tackle China. The program announced today that SparkLabs will open in Beijing on May 15 before expanding to Shanghai, Chengdu and hardware manufacturing hub.
Bernard Moon, co-founder of SparkLabs, said in an email that the accelerator began exploring options for entering China about two years ago “because we saw a trend in Chinese tech companies having more global influence. Not just the largest players (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent), but even smaller players such as Xiaomi and Cheetah Mobile.”
For its Chinese accelerators, SparkLabs has partnered with Guoan Academy, a subsidiary of industrial conglomerate CITIC Guoan Group. Led by Colin Qu, SparkLabs Beijing will focus on helping Chinese startups expand into other countries.
It is open to a wide range of sectors, including artificial intelligence, virtual reality, mobile, the Internet of Things, gaming, financial tech and healthcare. “We will just avoid industries that take a lot of capital to prove out, such as pharma and cleantech,” Moon said.
Money has poured into Chinese tech startups from both venture capital funds and tech firms like Tencent, with the number of venture capital funds increasing dramatically last year and total investments reaching record highs (though the boom has slowed).
When asked how SparkLabs will set itself apart from a glut of other investors, Moon said “I believe our track record speaks for itself. Seventy-nine percent of our 65 graduates received global funding so far with an average over $3 million. The average raise prior to entering our program is over $400,000.” (SparkLabs has invested in 93 companies so far through its Seoul program (which is currently in its ninth cohort), Internet of Things accelerator and SparkLabs Global, a separate seed fund).
SparkLabs Beijing’s honorary advisory board includes Mandalay Entertainment CEO Peter Guber; Twitch co-founder/former Y Combinator partner Justin Kan; Lili Cheng, general manager of Fuse Labs at Microsoft; and LinkedIn co-founder Eric Ly. Its venture partners are former Kingsoft CTO Sun Shaw and Gang Lu, founder and CEO of TechNode (which manages TechCrunch China).
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