Retired MLB pitcher hopes to give back as SparkLabs partner

By Son Ji-hyoung
  • Published : Jun 26, 2019 - 17:50
  • Updated : Jun 26, 2019 - 17:51

Retired Major League Baseball pitcher Park Chan-ho is hoping to have a good influence on the South Korean startup ecosystem and give back to society as a venture partner of Seoul-based global accelerator SparkLabs.

“I’m glad I was given a chance to have a virtuous influence on startups,” Park said in a press conference on Wednesday. “Young entrepreneurs are brimming with passion and dreams. I think I can share with them my experience and know-how (as a former professional sportsman in a foreign country).”

SparkLabs Venture partner Park Chan-ho (right) and SparkLabs co-founder and general partner Lee Han-joo pose for a photo at a press conference prior to SparkLabs Demoday held Wednesday. (SparkLabs)
The 45-year-old added that joining SparkLabs part-time could be a way of paying back the love and support he has received from his home country.

“Donating to society is one way (of contribution), whereas having an impact on a certain industry could be another, because it will eventually make society richer and stronger.”

Park’s role is going to be flexible, according to SparkLabs co-founder Lee Han-joo. He added that Park would no doubt put his trailblazer mindset to work to help startup entrepreneurs, and also leverage his personal overseas network to pave their way abroad.

Park did not elaborate on the amount of money he would invest or any specific tasks he had been assigned. He did say, however, that he is interested in information technology and the aerospace industry.

The former athlete also denied speculations of a political future, saying politics was beyond his capacity.

Mostly as a starting pitcher, Park was 124-98 with a 4.36 earned run average throughout his 1,993 innings in 17 seasons in the MLB. He spent nine years with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He retired in 2012, after pitching for the Hanwha Eagles in the Korea Baseball Organization in his twilight. He currently serves as an adviser to the San Diego Padres.

The press conference took place prior to a demo day event for SparkLabs Batch 13 -- with 12 companies -- at Coex in Seoul. Park joined the demo day to lead a fireside chat session.

Other than Park, Daimler Mobility Services General Manager David Goh, Daimler head of open innovation Philipp Gneiting and CEO Joel Pazhayampallil came to speak about the future mobility trend during the demo day panel session.

Since its foundation in December 2012, SparkLabs had accelerated 137 companies as of this month. The combined valuation of 125 startups until Batch 12 had reached $1.6 billion. Its alumni range from 5Rocks to Sky Labs, Mango Plate, Memebox, Sentbe and H2O Hospitality.

By Son Ji-hyoung