Junghee Ryu is a rare breed of Korean entrepreneur. Not only did he found a tech company that sold to Intel, but now he has decided to reinvest his returns into the Korean startup ecosystem and has opened his high-tech accelerator, FuturePlay, for business.
Junghee founded Olaworks, an augmented reality technology company in 2006 and sold the company to Intel in 2012 for a reported $30M. Olaworks and a Silicon Valley-based tech company, both of which were funded by Intel Capital, entered a formal partnership before the former was acquired by Intel. That company continued the collaboration with Olaworks and helped it become part of Intel.
Now Junghee and his team are helping to fulfill the dreams and potential for many other hopeful and exceptional technologists. FuturePlay is a venture capital firm and incubator he co-founded to invest in startups focused on building high-tech services, and to provide an environment in which brilliant developers and engineers could flourish.
Currently there is a portfolio of seven statups that have been backed by FuturePlay and seven inventors are housed in the FuturePlay incubator. FuturePlay has been able to lure talented and experienced engineers from big tech companies like Samsung who may have had mature ideas in mind and are capable of realizing them. This is incredibly rare in Korea, and demonstrates Junghee’s status in the Korean startup world as a key figure that exceptionally well regarded.
South Korea has no shortage of talented engineers who have traditionally all been lured by the security of a career in one of Korea’s big tech companies. Future Play believes that by lowering the barriers to entering entrepreneurship for these talented techies they will be able to empower rapid growth in the tech innovation sector in Korea. The long-term aim is to build cool technology-driven startups that Western tech giants may be interested in buying. The FuturePlay team is working on connecting their startups to the outside world, in order to make this happen.
Another approach is investing in startups based in countries such as the U.S. who have R&D team in Asia, who can help to connect the two tech centres and provide opportunity for growth on both sides of the world.
Thus far, three startups from FuturePlay’s rapidly growing portfolio have been disclosed (four others are currently in stealth mode):
1. Smartphone keyboard & text input solution developer Keukey
2. Cross-device clipboard service Skip
3. “Stick and shoot” camera Podo (based in Silicon Valley)
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