K-pop or Korean pop culture has exploded worldwide following the success of highly popular figures including Psy. The multi-million dollar industry has even managed to draw academic focus.

In a demo day hosted by SparkLabs on Saturday in Seoul, Korean startups showed off exactly how influential the K-pop phenomenon is now becoming in early-stage tech. SparkLabs is based in several startup hubs including Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv, Seoul and London.

“This 6th batch was at an earlier stage than prior classes. It took more engagement and guidance from us, but it was also more enjoyable for us to work with them,” stated Sophia Choi, Senior Associate at SparkLabs.

Four Startups Leveraging K-Pop In 2015:

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Big Brain Lab’s ChartMetric is a modern approach to tracking, measuring, and analyzing music data for music makers, labels, and marketers. Users can analyze K-pop music to discover the current trends and predict the new ones. The company’s engine collects music rankings and performance data from local charts as well as global music streaming services such as iTunes, Spotify, and Youtube. They use machine learning and natural language processing to organize and derive actionable insights as well as collecting social media data from Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to provide real time trends for artists. ChartMetric is launching with the K-pop genre, but will expand into other music genres in 2016.

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WaHome is O2O cleaning service from Seoul. The company gained early traction by cross-advertising with K-pop celebrities like Super Junior and EXO, who claimed to be using the app to clean their apartments. Customers find house staff on the smartphone app in real-time and all staff go through reference checks and training before they are listed on the app to ensure safety. Wahome plans to expand to Japan and Hong Kong in 2016. 


PicPic is a GIF creation and sharing service with a vision to become the premier global hub for all GIF content. GIFs have been widely used in Korea among K-pop fans since the early 2000s. Many K-pop fans are using GIFs on communities and blogs, and many of GIFs on the PicPic platform are centered around K-pop stars. PicPic provides diverse editing functions such as speed adjustments, backwards playback, partial GIFs, and meme creation while creating GIFs 18 times faster than other popular GIF applications, according to PicPic CEO Hyuwoong Oh.

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NextMakers is picking up on the Korean culture craze of connecting famous Youtube video creators with brands. It’s a marketplace for brands who want to collaborate with social influencers and content creators for advertising campaigns. With more than 3,000 influencers signed up to its platform, the service successfully completed campaigns with major Korean brands such as Nexon, LG, and Camp Mobile. NextMakers is currently concentrating on the beauty and technology industries. The team invited a K-beauty Youtube star to the demoday to attract more visitors to their booth.

Startups at the SparkLabs demo day in Seoul

Eva Yoo is Shanghai-based tech writer. Reach her at evayoo@technode.com

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