Today, I’m excited to announce that I’m joining Techstars as Managing Director of Techstars Korea Accelerator in partnership with Hillstone Partners. This is Techstars’ first-ever accelerator program in Korea focused on supporting and nourishing the local startup ecosystem in Pangyo, Korea.
After nearly three years in Los Angeles serving as a Founding Managing Partner at ELEVEN:ZULU Capital, I returned to Korea in 2018 to pursue my life mission – to empower extraordinary founders to do awesome things. To do so, I took a role as Managing Director of BEYOND STARTUP, a startup incubator in Seoul under the Seoul Business Agency. When I learned of Techstars arrival in Korea earlier this year, and their mission to help entrepreneurs succeed, I took it as a calling to pursue the position.
Being a three-time founder myself, I have an affinity to share my knowledge with other entrepreneurs as they pursue their mission to create new and influential solutions. In the creation of my first venture – EICG, a boutique strategy and consultancy agency – we developed a strategy framework called the “Fan-Oriented Strategy” that elaborates on how a company can win a market over competitors with superior capabilities. This venture was the beginning of my love of being a founder. Applying my expertise in growing successful businesses, both through EICG and as a venture capitalist, I am confident that the first class of Techstars Korea will have the right tools to create cutting-edge and innovative solutions.
While this program is open to startups in any tech vertical, I’m keen to work with startup founders who have a strong vision with growth potential. More specifically, I see three major categories that startups may fall into during our application process (though it is not necessarily required):
- Enterprise Tech: I’m very interested in enterprise software because of its global scale. There’s no such thing as Korean-only enterprise software. If you can create the right solution, it has the potential for mass adoption.
- Human-Device Interaction: I’m also interested in companies focused on human-device interfaces. As tech solutions change, so will the way we interact with that tech. We’ve already seen major advancements, but more are on the horizon.
- Lifestyle Tech: Companies that have a vision for changing the way humans perform daily life tasks. This is a very broad category and can fall in many tech verticals. The key aspect is that your technology changes the way things have historically been accomplished.
The Korean startup ecosystem is extremely active and is also very firmly supported by the Government of Korea, a major benefit as they provide investment and resources to founders building solutions within the country. Korea also has a large pool of talent that is expanding, as well as a culture that has moved on from valuing working for large institutions, now wanting to work for the “next Google” or create the next big tech company. All of these factors will contribute to a ripe environment for our recruiting efforts.
The accelerator program will be hosted at the Pangyo Techno Valley campus (PTV), a business and innovation hub, known locally as the Silicon Valley of Korea. Techstars Korea is accepting applications through March 1st, and the program will run June 2020 through September 2020. Please visit the Techstars Korea program page to learn more and apply.
Techstars and Hillstone Partners launch accelerator program in Pangyo, Korea
BOULDER, Colo. – July 9, 2019 – Techstars, the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, and Hillstone Partners, a boutique capital consultancy firm specializing in startup business, announced today the launch of the Techstars Korea Accelerator in partnership with Hillstone Partners. The new three-month mentorship-driven accelerator program, Techstars first in Korea, will source 10 top performing startups per year. The accelerator will support and nourish the Korean startup ecosystem and is open to startups focused on digital and tech innovation across a variety of business verticals.
The accelerator will be hosted at the Pangyo Techno Valley campus (PTV), a business and innovation hub focused on information technology, biotech, cultural tech, and fusion tech. PTV is located in the major metropolitan area of Pangyo, Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea, also known as the Silicon Valley of Korea, approximately 30 minutes from downtown Seoul.
Techstars expansion to Korea marks its commitment to continued global expansion and efforts to help entrepreneurs succeed across the world. Korea is an attractive market for Techstars, considering the country’s recent rise on the scene as a global startup hub, the active and well-designed innovation ecosystem, and the support from public and private sectors of the nation’s tech scene. Techstars will join the ranks of other US-based tech companies such as Google and Facebook that have set up shop in past years.
“Korea’s booming startup sector and Pangyo’s thriving tech ecosystem are the perfect ingredients for this accelerator program,” said Will Robinson, Vice President Asia Pacific Sales at Techstars. “With Hillstone Partners’ 10+ year commitment to the region’s startup community, and our experience propelling startup growth through mentorship and the Techstars network, we are well positioned to deliver an incredible and impactful accelerator in Pangyo. This is a very exciting move for Techstars, considering Korea’s access to other major Asian markets, the country’s massive internal market, and the public and private sector’s interest in mobilizing the tech industry.”
“Working with Techstars, we are excited to help develop growth opportunities and international and global impact for Korean startups,” said Rayol Hwang, CEO at Hillstone Partners. “Given Techstars expertise running accelerator programs across the world, as well as its deep network, we know this partnership will drive a significant degree of long-term impact, growth, and success for our startup community in Pangyo. This partnership will drive the continued development of our startup ecosystem and contribute meaningfully to our country’s focus on and dedication to South Korea’s status as a major startup, tech and innovation leader.”
Applications for Techstars Korea in partnership with Hillstone Partners will open in December of 2019, with the program running from June 2020 through September 2020. Startup companies interested in learning more about the program are encouraged to contact Techstars or visit the Techstars Korea in partnership with Hillstone Partners page .
Techstars is the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. Techstars founders connect with other entrepreneurs, experts, mentors, alumni, investors, community leaders, and corporations to grow their companies. Techstars operates three divisions: Techstars Startup Programs, Techstars Mentorship-Driven Accelerator Programs, and Techstars Corporate Innovation Partnerships. Techstars accelerator portfolio includes more than 1,700 companies with a market cap of $20 Billion. www.techstars.com
About Hillstone Partners
Hillstone Partners was originally established as CGI Korea in December 2010 as a private equity fund manager. Hillstone has since delivered expertise in IT, gaming and clean technology sectors with a strong network of influence in the Asia Pacific. Since founding, Hillstone played key roles in cross-border M&A, helping Korean startups access foreign markets. Recently, it established a blockchain-cryptocurrency fund to connect startups with global VCs, contributing to the development of the technology-based startup ecosystem in Korea.