Korean VC Sopoong closes $8M fund for startups targeted on environmental impression • TechCrunch


Two years in the past, South Korea unveiled a plan to succeed in carbon neutrality by 2050. Getting there will probably be one other story.

Although Korean manufacturers say they are trying to vary their methods, the nation’s GDP is linked to some uniquely pollutive industries, together with petrochemical producers, automakers and shipbuilders. Although some businesses could by no means be actually sustainable, a enterprise agency in Seoul argues that rising climate-tech startups will assist massive producers do higher total.

Sopoong, a social impact-focused VC, intends to help environmentally minded tech founders in South Korea and Southeast Asia, whereas constructing a bridge between Korean conglomerates and startups within the sector. Sopoong has closed on round $8 million (10.3 billion gained) for its newest, sixth fund, bringing the agency’s whole belongings underneath administration to roughly $22 million (28 billion gained).

I spoke with Sopoong chief govt Max Sang-Yeop Han, a serial entrepreneur who joined Sopoong in 2016 and purchased the agency in 2019, to be taught concerning the VC’s plans.

Picture Credit: Sopoong Ventures / CEO Max Han

“It’s a important sign for big South Korean corporates collaborating as restricted companions of environmental and local weather tech-focused enterprise capitals like us,” Han mentioned. “Taking part LPs [Korean conglomerates] are keen about local weather expertise and need to participate to deal with the local weather and atmosphere problem as they agree that the local weather disaster is among the pressing issues.”

Korean petroleum refining firm GS Holdings and chemical firm Isu participated in Sopoong’s climate-focused fund as restricted companions, Han mentioned, including that they are going to be extra like strategic companions to Sopoong. Nonprofit organizations similar to Asan Nanum Foundation, established by Hyundai Group, and D.Camp, in addition to startup founders and executives, together with the co-founder and former CEO of Krafton, Gang-Seok Kim, additionally joined Sopoong’s local weather fund, Han continued.

The early-stage VC had already arrange 5 social impression funds and backed 81 startups since 2020, after Han acquired the agency in December 2019. Sopoong was launched in 2008 by Jaewoong Lee, who co-founded South Korea’s largest web portal operator Daum Communication, which merged with Kakao in 2014.

Now, the VC agency needs to zero in on the local weather disaster and different environmental points by way of its sixth fund, however different tech sectors like SaaS and IT will nonetheless be on its radar, in keeping with Han. “Two-thirds of the fund will probably be invested within the atmosphere and local weather tech, together with renewable power, agritech and meals tech, and the remainder will go to the knowledge expertise business funding,” Han mentioned.

Its candy spot is early-stage ventures from seed to Sequence A phases throughout South Korea and Southeast Asia. Its common examine dimension is $150,000, however the agency can go as much as $600,000, Han advised TechCrunch.

The sixth fund has already invested in 16 startups, together with MetaTexture, a plant-based meals startup; Selex, a Vietnam-based electrical scooter and battery-swapping expertise startup; Myorange, a platform for managing charitable donations; and Function 12, an automation instrument that helps customers full coding and design information.

9 of the 16 portfolio firms are collaborating in Sopoong’s first accelerator program, which launched in June and runs for six months. Sopoong invests as much as $350,000 into every startup through the accelerator program and gives mentorship, co-working area, administrative help and networking alternatives with consultants.

On prime of the accelerator, the agency additionally launched a six-month fellowship program to foster local weather tech entrepreneurship. Up to now, Sopoong says it has chosen 13 people with grasp’s or doctoral levels in environment-related majors, providing them $1,700 in grants per 30 days and different help, together with the accelerator program. If collaborating fellows reach founding a startup, Sopoong may make a seed funding, Han mentioned.



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