Growing Incubator in Korea Co-Founded by Ex-Googler

September 29, 2011

9:02 am

Hanging out in central Seoul, on the third floor of an inconspicuous office building, is Richard Min. After once consulting for Google on operations in Korea, Min is now kickstarting Korean startups at Seoul Space, an incubator he founded with investor Chong-pil Yim and David Lee, Google’s first international executive who helped lead business development in Asia, Europe, and Latin America.

“We’re hoping for Seoul Space to be a launching pad for startups to hit not only Silicon Valley but Japan, Taipei, and other parts of Asia,” says Min. Until now, he says, most startups targeted local markets and rarely dreamed of going global, shooting instead for an acquisition by Korea’s Samsung or SK Telecom.

Seoul Space began two years ago with coworking and, a year later, added an informal incubation program with events and mentoring. They hope to launch a formal program early next year.

One of their main assets is a connection to Silicon Valley: cofounder Lee is a limited partner in Y Combinator and SV Angels and cofounder of ex-Googler-led XG Ventures. Seoul Space held Korea’s first Facebook Developer Meetup and, along with Evernote, cosponsored This Week in Startups Seoul in August – with Seoul Space graduate Spoqa winning a free trip to San Francisco for the Launch Conference.

According to Min, the startup scene would have been too small 3 years ago to start Seoul Space, but now they’re “overloaded.” They are hoping to build a network of incubation throughout Korea, while propelling startups abroad. And Min has some experience there: he founded a consulting company called InfoNet Digital in 2005 to help international companies enter Korea or Korean companies grow outward.

“There is massive innovation and talent going on here, and you’re going to see more and more exciting things happening,” says Min. “We’re just trying to broaden the window for the rest of the world to see it.”

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.

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