Today saw the official announcement of Startup Labs, a brand new seed investment fund based in the USA, which is aiming to disrupt the startup scene by reinventing the traditional incubation process. The first program of its kind in the world, Startup Labs Taiwan will begin at Microsoft Taiwan’s Taipei headquarters on February 10, 2012, and run through early March.
Startup Labs is run by Clint Nelsen, Arkady Moreynis, Tugce Ergul and is partnering up with local giants in every country where they host their programs. Startup Labs aims to get teams running at a very fast pace, get them validating their products in only 3 weeks and defining revenue and user targets. In each city, a local partner will help support the program preferably investing half of the funds required. Startup Labs managing director Clint Nelsen, who is also the co-founder of Startup Weekend, sees the Taiwan market as the perfect launch pad to take the program to over 100 cities worldwide in its first two years. By leveraging the Startup Weekend network, a network that currently runs across 67 countries, Startup Labs aims to shake up the traditional, 3-month incubation concept that has grown in popularity after the model was defined by Y Combinator. The program is heavily backed by famed Russian entrepreneur and investor Arkady Moreynis, who has been behind some of Russia’s most innovative web companies, including price.ru and Moscow incubator Glavstart.
Startup Labs Taiwan is co-organized by Yushan Ventures, an early-stage Taiwan-based angel investment firm which also brought Startup Weekend to Taiwan, and Microsoft BizSpark Taiwan, a startup incubation program which focuses on software innovation and supporting startups’ success by providing software, cloud bandwidth and linking them with potential investors.
As an investor, Yushan Ventures is keen to bring more success to Taiwan’s fledgling industry. “We believe Taiwan’s competitive advantage lies in its technological prowess, as well as its location between the East and West and mainland China. There is a wealth of untapped talent found here. Startup Labs will attempt to unlock some of that talent,” Yushan Ventures Managing Director Volker Heistermann states.
Heistermann has begun building the team of mentors and advisors that will guide the five chosen teams through their 22-day journey, Notable members of the advisory board already confirmed include Matthew Costello, COO at HTC Corporation, Richard Wimmer, Legal Counsel at IBM and Charles Kuai, CSO at Ubee Interactive. Teams will be given office space, mentoring, guidance and technical support, as well as NT$1 million (approx. US$30,000) each in funding. Half the funds will come from Startup Labs, the other half from Yushan Ventures, for an approximate 8% stake.
“The Startup Labs initiative is a catalyst to enable all stakeholders with interest in Taiwan’s startup ecosystem to collaborate and shine at the global level and that startups in Taiwan need more resources along their entrepreneurial journey.” states David Kuo, founder of Taiwan Professional Group.
Startup Labs aims to put the teams on the right track, showing the community and investors that teams have proven customer acquisition and revenue models. On the last day of the program, an investor day will be held, closing the program, where teams will be able to raise further capital. Capital that Startup Labs will then match by 20%. Teams can apply to the program by visiting http://startuplabs.org/get-started/
Startup Labs Taiwan’s sponsors include Yushan Ventures (http://www.yushanventures.com), Microsoft BizSpark (www.microsoft.com.tw),Taiwan’s largest B2B service company Enspyre (www.enspyre.com), Taiwan Professional Group (http://www.twnpro.com/), Business Next (www.bnext.com.tw/), Startup Digest (http://startupdigest.com), and BlackCamp (http://blackcamp.co).