Web 2.0 Asia
A few months ago I wrote about Litmus, Softbank Ventures’ attempt to do something similar to what Y-combinator does in the US.
Turns out, Softbank’s Litmus program has selected three initial start-ups to back. The first is Rukie, a social network service targetted for Korea’s 3.5M college students. (Did someone just say “Facebook”?) They are doing a beta service at two schools. On Rukie, college students can exchange information about courses, find nearby housing information, or meet students from other schools at a “plaza”. Given that Facebook has not set its foot in Korea just yet, Rukie has a window of opportunity.
The second company is Storyberry, which allows user to compose a Flash photo slideshow. My first impression was that this was similar to Scrapblog or Slide, but as none of these US services are popular in Korea just yet, Storyberry might succeed if it can well address Korea’s local market. Also, Storyberry vies to differentiate itself by adding some features that resemble game programming – i.e. interacive features that give different results for different user inputs.
The third company, called OnOffMix.com, is an event scheduling site. A similar service that first springs to my mind is Renkoo.com. I like the simple and elegant design of OnOffMix.com website. OnOffMix lets you schedule an event, and view the past event information such as participants list and related multimedia files such as pictures taken during the event.
The three Litmus startups are not exactly bringing world-first new concepts to the table, but they are well executed and easy on the eyes. As is probably the case with some of other countries like Japan (of course Silicon Valley is a totally different story here), many of Korea’s young people are more into job securities than building a startup. Hence the importance of Litmus program, which in turn depends on the success of the initial batch of these three startups. I’m wholeheartedly rooting for them.