Updated: Dec 12, 2018
SparkLabs Taipei is a seed-stage fund and accelerator that helps startups expand into overseas markets by working with successful entrepreneurial mentoring, multinational corporations, and global investors. All selected teams will receive US$40,000 investment in exchange for up to 6% equity, receive 3 months of training with free office space, and a chance to pitch to international investors on Demo Day.
The Challenge of Taiwanese Startups: Lack of Globalization
In recent years, although Taiwan’s startup scene has been very active, many newcomers are still unfamiliar with how to enter global markets, secure capital from international investors, and execute exit strategies that entail M&A or IPO. If the startup only remains in the Taiwan market, it is easy to encounter challenges such as insufficient growth momentum, difficulty in competing with foreign brands who expand into Taiwan, and inability to attract top talents to grow the team.
Despite the Taiwanese government actively seeking to foster unicorns, the size of the Taiwan market does not compare to that of Japan and South Korea. Thus, the opportunity to create unicorns in Taiwan is low, and expanding your service internationally becomes a must.
Taiwan’s startups must be competitive — internationalize as soon as possible.
In order to expand business to overseas markets, startup founders must be ambitious, know how to collect feedback from foreign users to optimize products, leverage international corporate resources, and also obtain resources from overseas investors and international venture capital institutions.
Startups can accumulate experience through mentors’ past experiences, or reduce the chances of mistakes and increase the winning rate through investor resources.
Taiwan is not a Silicon Valley, and it is impossible to become one. But this soil needs greater stimulation and richer nutrient injection, which requires everyone to participate. So since July 2017, we have been preparing the “SparkLabs Taipei Venture Capital Fund” and our new accelerator. With the help of SparkLabs’ international mentors and its well-established network of overseas investors, we hope to help more entrepreneurs go global.
SparkLabs Taipei investment areas include but are not limited to: IoT, AI/machine learning, fintech, blockchain tech, e-commerce, cybersecurity, digital healthcare, industrial/consumer products, agriculture, etc.
On average, each team will match 3–6 mentors. Our entrepreneurs are from Silicon Valley, London, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, etc. A strong global network of instructors is an important asset for us. The mentor group has key success stories in the industry. As a result, we expect each new team to grow tremendously with their interactions with their mentors.
Our training course includes: • Product development • Cloud architecture design • Equity structure • Venture financial accounting • International brand marketing • Digital advertising • Public relations media response • Fundraising briefings, legal, etc.
These courses will be provided free of charge to selected teams. The course even allows you to make 1-on-1 consultations with experts to receive customized advice.
SparkLabs Taipei’s rich resources:
The SparkLabs Taipei Accelerator is based on a Taiwanese startup team that comprises Taiwanese listed companies and angel investors at home and abroad, including CTBC Group, Bravovia Capital, 104 Job Bank, and successful entrepreneurs around the globe. SparkLabs Taipei will be based in Taiwan Tech Arena (TTA), which is a flagship program initiated by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST).
Currently, SparkLabs Taipei collaborates with the four major accounting firms: Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PWC and also TaipeiLaw Attorneys-at-Law, an international law firm that focuses on providing new legal services. We also cooperate with Red Peak Asia which deals with international brand marketing, Ogilvy Public Relations which focuses on brand positioning and marketing management, and The Hoffman Agency, which is a high-tech public relations consultancy. Besides providing training courses and customized consulting services, partners will involve their overseas’ branches to support startups in landing business deals in foreign markets. Partners will also provide market intelligence, user interview techniques, company setup support, talent recruiting, etc.
SparkLabs has brought in Edgar Chiu as the managing partner for its Taiwan program. Edgar was previously the general manager at Camp Mobile, an affiliate of Korean internet giant Naver. Prior to that, he was COO at Gogolook, the Taipei-based startup behind Whoscall App, which Naver acquired in 2013.
Edgar is joined by two Venture Partners, Tony Ling, and Alex Wu, who are part-time partners. Alex and Tony will be providing support to SparkLabs Taipei’s startups and sharing their experiences from Silicon Valley.
Tony Ling is a former Managing Director at Silver Lake Partners, a technology-focused private equity firm with $39 billion under management. While at Silver Lake, Tony led investments across a range of technology sectors including internet, semiconductor and hardware-related companies.
Alex Wu is the founding team and VP Strategy, Marketing, and Partnerships at NEX Team, and was previously at Newsela, Quora, Facebook and Obama for America. While at Facebook, he was a product marketer where he managed over $50 million in media placements, accelerated adoption of products like Facebook Pages and Facebook for Android, and led global marketing initiatives with Facebook’s mobile operator and device partners.
Steve Chen, co-founder and CTO of YouTube, and Kevin Chou, co-founder and CEO of Kabam, join SparkLabs’ entry into Taiwan on their advisory board. Steve sold YouTube to Google for $1.65 billion and Kevin recently sold Kabam to Netmarble, a South Korean online gaming company, for $800 million. Also joining are Charles and Kai Huang, the two brothers who sold Red Octane (Guitar Hero) to Activision. Guitar Hero was the fastest video game to reach $1 billion in sales, and was the best selling video game in the world in 2007 and 2008.
The schedule for Batch 1 is scheduled for mid-2018/09 — mid-2018/12. Deadline for applications is 2018/08/29 23:59, Taipei time https://www.f6s.com/sparklabstaipei2018/apply
SparkLabs Taipei’s rich resources:
Founded in 2013, SparkLabs Group (http://www.sparklabsgroup.com) includes SparkLabs accelerator network, Asia’s premier startup accelerators; SparkLabs Global Ventures (http://www.sparklabsglobal.com), a leading seed-stage fund; SparkLabs Ventures (http://www.sparklabsventures.com), a localized early-stage fund (Series A & B) in South Korea; SparkChain Capital (http://www.sparkchaincapital.com), an early stage blockchain focused fund led by Joyce Kim, its Co-founder and Managing Partner and Co-founder of Stellar (SparkChain is the first fund led by a creator of a top ten blockchain protocol); and SparkLabs Capital, a late-stage investment vehicle.
SparkLabs accelerator network consists of SparkLabs Korea (Seoul), SparkLabs China (Beijing and launching Shanghai, Chengdu and Shenzhen), SparkLabs IoT & Smart Cities (Songdo, South Korea), SparkLabs Cultiv8 (AgTech, FoodTech & Sustainability in Orange, Australia), SparkLabs FinTech (Shenzhen, Hong Kong), and SparkLabs Taipei.