There aren’t a tonne of funds focused on seed-stage funding worldwide, but we can add a new one to the list today. SparkLabs, the company behind the accelerator program in Korea, is expanding its scope with its first seed-stage fund that will “help great startups go global.”
Not only will the SparksLab Global fund — which has a total kitty of $30 million — zoom in on seed-stage investments, in addition to the early stage focus of its accelerator, but it will have a far broader global remit. The fund will invest across Asia, Europe, Israel and the US, going beyond the accelerator program’s primary focus on Korea and the US — although it does accept startups from other parts of the world.
The caliber of its founding team is impressive. Bernard Moon, co-founder and General Partner at SparkLabs, will be a primary operating partner alongside Net Jacobsson — who was Facebook’s first international executive and has advised Openfeint, Crowdstar and King.com — and Frank Meehan — formerly of Horizons Ventures, who has worked with Spotify, Siri, Summly and others.
The founding team totals six, and is spread across the US, Israel, Europe and Korea. That will see it not only invest in a range of markets, but also leverage their global networks to help startups push into new regions. That’s a very different prospect to the many Silicon Valley-based VCs who refuse to invest in startups that are anything less than an hour’s drive away.
Moon tells TNW that the fund is targeting the gap between early stage ideas and Series A — an issue he is well aware of from his work with graduates of the SparkLabs accelerator program.
The fund will typically invest between $250,000 and $1 million in deals, Moon says, and he expects that will see it last a maximum of three years. Like its broad geographical focus, SparkLabs is also keeping a wide berth in terms of the type of companies that it will target.
Moon is interested in companies dealing with big data, and he’s broadly keen on general consumer plays, enterprise business models and the growth of education technology. We can expect around one-third of investments to be for Asia, with the rest spread across the US, Europe and Israel, he adds.
There are already deals in the pipeline, with startups spread right across the world, so we can expect to get a clearer picture of SparkLabs’ position in the market soon.
Already the feedback is positive, Moon says:
It’s satisfying to see the response from entrepreneurs when we talk about this fund, not just because there is a seed stage gap in Korea and other Asian markets, but because we are continuing our existing work with the accelerator program into the seed stage. Plus we have additional networks and contacts, which makes entrepreneurs very excited.
The SparkLabs accelerator program — which has attracted a stellar selection of mentors, including the likes of Ray Ozzie and Michael Crow — will continue on, creating obvious synergies for graduates that seek the kind of seed-stage investment that this new fund offers.
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