SparkLabs Taipei Hits Home Run with DemoDay 3 Hosting More than 900 Attendees, Indicative of Taiwan’s Thriving Startup Ecosystem
SparkLabs Taipei, Taiwan’s premier startup accelerator, held its third demo day on March 11th. Dubbed “DemoDay 3” in Taiwan, a total of 8 startup teams from their third batch pitched on stage, seeking for new business partners and investors. Hundreds of people from Taiwan’s technology, startup, and investment industries attended DemoDay 3, demonstrating Taiwan’s budding startup ecosystem and general interest in the next wave of technology and innovation. Special speakers included Steve Chen, Co-founder of YouTube, Taipei’s Deputy Mayor Huang Shan-shan, and Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Science and Technology CY Tu.
As a co-Sponsor of DemoDay 3 and lead investor in SparkLabs Taipei’s venture capital fund, CTBC Financial Holding’s President Daniel Wu remarked, “CTBC regards digitization and technological innovation as one of our core strategies. Since the first day of the establishment of SparkLabs Taipei’s fund, CTBC decided to become a supporter and lead investor. By cooperating with SparkLabs Taipei, we have instilled new energy into our internal corporate innovation, while also encouraging investment into Taiwan’s startup ecosystem, helping local startups breakout of Taiwan and cross-borders into new international markets.”
In an interview, Co-founder of YouTube, Steve Chen, shared his thoughts on Taiwan’s startup industry, “I meet many Taiwanese entrepreneurs who often say, ‘I will wait until I have more traction and resources before I can expand into the international market.’ But, crossing borders into new markets is actually not as expensive or difficult as one may think. Edgar Chiu, Co-founder of SparkLabs Taipei, was a one man BD team when he expanded his previous business Whoscall into many overseas markets. He flew to countries in which he wanted to expand to and connected with local resources, building new business relationships and connections. SparkLabs Taipei encourages entrepreneurs to target the international market from day one. That’s the mindset entrepreneurs in Taiwan must have.” Steve Chen is currently a Venture Partner and Advisor at SparkLabs Taipei.
The third batch of SparkLabs Taipei’s startups are working on solutions in diverse industries, from telemedicine to commercial AI to IoT. According to the order in which they pitched on stage, here are the eight startups from DemoDay 3:
iDrip (AIoT / Smart Home). iDrip is an IoT coffee maker with a coffee device capable of replicating the brewing techniques of world champion baristas for coffee lovers to enjoy great tasting coffee at anywhere and anytime. Founded in 2018, iDrip’s smart coffee maker is already on the market with over 2,000 units sold. They have also partnered with some of the top luxury brands in Asia, such as Maserati, Audi, and Tsutaya Bookstore.
Terminal 1 (Recruitment Platform). Terminal 1 is a tech-enabled recruitment firm helping enterprises and engineering candidates match at higher rates by using automation to increase their sourcing efficiencies and customized technical assessments to improve candidate quality. Founded in 2016, Terminal 1 has grown and scaled their business to a team of 20 with offices in Taiwan and Hong Kong. They have worked with clients such as Credit Suisse and HSBC.
Cocomelody (E-Commerce). Cocomelody is a global bridal brand transforming the way brides shop for their wedding dress by offering an omnichannel retail experience to quickly and easily find personalized, affordable, and tailored-to-fit dresses. With it’s Direct-To-Customer model, Cocomelody has the ability to quickly design, prototype, and manufacture custom sized wedding dresses. Cocomelody’s built-to-order platform and logistics system reduce lead-time from the industry average of 4-6 months to only 45-60 days.
PenguinSmart (AI / Digital Healthcare). PenguinSmart is enabling intelligent, individualized rehab therapy for all. Founded by Harvard & MIT alumni, their team combines the latest data sciences with expert insights to empower caregivers to become a key part of the rehab journey. Their solutions not only increase the efficacy of rehab therapy, but they also allow therapists to oversee 8x as many patients while providing long-term care. PenguinSmart was named one of the “Top 10 Disruptive Parenting Companies of 2017” by Disruptor Daily.
MoBagel (AI / Data Analysis). MoBagel empowers enterprises to make the right business decisions by using its easy-to-use automated machine learning software to produce fast and actionable predictions. Their core product, Decanter AI, allows anyone with basic data analysis knowledge to build and deploy machine learning models using an intuitive interface and is the first to incorporate time-series cross-validation. Decanter AI shortens the big data driven decision-making process from months to weeks or even days. They are serving clients in sectors such as retail, manufacturing, banking, telecom, and others, and generated over US$5M in revenue in 2019.
FunTek (Chat Solution). FunTek is an app-free chat solution provider enabling enterprises to directly interact and engage with their customers by simply scanning a QR code. Their direct-to-chat solution, PinChat, allows customers to easily communicate with businesses without the hassle of registering a new account or downloading any apps. FunTek has been empowering the banking, 3C retailer, and pharmacy industries by building exclusive messenger systems integrated with their service and product. Since PinChat’s product launch, they have already received more than 30,000 QR Code scans within the span of a month.
JustKitchen (Food & Beverage). JustKitchen, a dark-kitchen infrastructure builder for the food delivery market, caters to their customers by offering them what they want, when and where ever they want it! Operating on a hub-and-spokes model’s infrastructure, JustKitchen has a 16,000 sq ft state-of-the-art fully operational hub kitchen in Taipei that is capable of servicing multiple spoke kitchens. JustKitchen is already working with brands such as Dan Ryan's, Smith & Wollensky and TGI Friday's. JustKitchen plans to open 5 spoke kitchens and launch seven delivery food brands by the end of 2020.
VAR LIVE (VR / Gaming). With thirty experience stores and five VR theme park development projects around the world, and over thirty high-quality VR entertainment products, VAR LIVE is one of the world's top VR entertainment developers and creates an immersive and exciting entertainment experience for all players. The core product VAR BOX is a perfect all-in-1 VR eSports solution. VAR BOX integrates eSports, community, entertainment, business application and training together in one. VAR BOX has forteen patented technologies and nine eSports games. During the past four months, VAR LIVE has installed 327 BOX machines in nine countries, gained over 30,000 active members and accumulated over 170,000 usages in the whole world.
SparkLabs Taipei alumni have a 70% follow-on funding rate and are currently operating in many international markets. It was established less than two years ago and has gone through three accelerator batches and invested in a total of 18 startups. These teams’ outstanding performance has led to a follow-on investment rate of 70% among SparkLabs Taipei’s portfolio, with follow-on investors including Taiwan’s National Development Fund, 500 Startups, Japan’s NEC Capital Solutions, and Hive Ventures.
Edgar Chiu, SparkLabs Taipei’s Managing Partner, comments, “SparkLabs Taipei is committed to identifying top early-stage startups in Taiwan and Pan-Asia. Of the 18 startups that we have invested in, we are the first institutional investors in 9 of the teams. There is a lack of early stage funding in Taiwan’s VC scene, and we want to fill that gap.”
During DemoDay 3, it was announced that SparkLabs Taipei has become a strategic partner of the Smart City Office in Taipei City. FOX-TECH, part of SparkLabs Taipei’s first batch, was already cooperating with the Smart City Office to assist in monitoring the temperature and humidity of the Nei Shuangxi Forest. Huang Shanshan, Deputy Mayor of Taipei City emphasized during the announcement, “Taipei City actively encourages new ventures and innovative ideas which is why we established the Taipei Smart City Project Office. We welcome future SparkLabs’ teams or any other startups with great ideas to contribute to the innovative energy in Taipei and make Taipei a better city.”
About SparkLabs Taipei
SparkLabs Taipei is part of the SparkLabs Group, a network of startup accelerators and venture capital funds that has invested in over 280 companies across six continents. Established in 2018, SparkLabs Taipei offers a strategically designed accelerator program to help founders grow and scale their startups into world-class businesses.
Founded by entrepreneur Edgar Chiu, SparkLabs Taipei runs a 3-month accelerator program for the seed to early-stage startups. Each team enjoys free office space, weekly training sessions, and are matched with three to six global mentors. The program is offered twice a year with the mission is to help Taiwanese startups expand globally, and more specifically to secure the next round of funding.
SparkLabs Taipei’s investment areas include the internet of things, artificial intelligence, fintech, digital healthcare, and other verticals. They focus on data-driven companies with innovative and disruptive business models.
VC investment into U.S.-based blockchain fintech projects in the first half of 2018 was far greater than all of 2017.
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