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THE INVESTOR
December 08, 2019
Big Reunion

Startups & Investors

[ASEAN-Korea Summit] ‘It all comes down to people,’ three accelerators say

  • PUBLISHED :November 27, 2019 - 15:40
  • UPDATED :December 02, 2019 - 09:24
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BUSAN -- During a panel discussion at the Startup Expo in Busan, three accelerators with distinctive characteristics shared a crucial factor in selecting startups to support -- people.

The event took place on the sidelines of the 2019 ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit. 

Venture Port CEO Park Wang-sung (left), SparkLabs co-founder and partner Eugene Kim and Ceries CEO Kim Dong-uk participate in a panel discussion on Nov. 25 at Startup Expo in Busan.
(Korea Small Business Insititute)



Eugene Kim, co-founder and partner at SparkLabs, Dong-uk Kim, CEO of Busan-based venture capital firm Ceries, and Park Wang-sung, CEO of Venture Port, all emphasized that people are the most important aspects of their investment criteria.

Kim of Ceries -- a handful of venture capital firms in South Korea’s second-largest city -- said his firm only invests in companies it knows well.

“We want to support local startups that are focusing on materials, parts and hardware,” Kim said. “As for whom we want to support, we don’t invest unless we know the founder very well.”

Jimmy Kim of SparkLabs said the role of accelerators has changed significantly compared with when the concept was introduced more than a decade ago.

Startups needed seed funding for infrastructure, such as expensive software, and time to find the right business model in the past, but this is not the case now, he noted.

“These days, it is easy to begin a company without much money. That’s why execution or someone who has the ability to execute is very important,” SparkLabs’ Kim said.

Park added that he could not stress enough the “people” element. “What we take into consideration the most are the team, the capability of founders and the target market.”

The three accelerators shared what they hoped to see in the near future.

Park suggested that the government implement an investment guarantee system to promote cross-border investment and more networking opportunities with Southeast Asian countries.

Kim of Sparklabs hoped for an environment and policies that encourage more serial entrepreneurs in the country.

By Park Ga-young (gypark@heraldcorp.com)

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