Q&A with Sungkwon Kang, director, LG Technology Ventures

Sungkwon Kang is a director at LG Technology Ventures (LGTV), a corporate venture capital (CVC) arm of South Korea-headquartered diversified conglomerate LG Corporation.

Regarding Kang, LGTV CEO Dong-Su Kim said: “Although Sungkwon joined the CVC unit for less than a year (in March 2021), he already made a strong impact on the team. He diligently sources deals, participates in due diligence, and supported our managing directors on some marquee deals such as Allievex.

“Having worked in R&D, management consulting, and technology scouting, he brings a wealth of experience and skillset to become an expert corporate venture capitalist. I have very high expectations for years to come.”

1. First, just give us a quick overview of who you work for, what you do, and how long you’ve been doing it.

I am with the investment team of LG Tech Ventures. LG Tech Ventures is the corporate venture capital arm of LG Group. LG Tech Ventures has seven LPs, including LG Electronics, LG Chem, LG Energy Solution, LG Display, LG CNS, LG U+ and LG Innotek. It’s been about [more than a year] since I transferred to the team. Prior to LG Tech Ventures, I was with LG Tech Center of America, a sister organisation under LG Corp, and supported eight major LG subsidiaries for their business development activities in North America.

2. What attracted you to CVC?

I believe CVC is one of the most effective ways to shape the strategic direction of a corporate. Future opportunities are often shaped by visionary entrepreneurs and seeing where capital flows can be a strong indicator of what the future will look like. Unless the corporation has its own conviction and wants to take a big bet and create its own future, it cannot beat the agility of a nimble startup, a quality necessary to plough ahead of the uncertain future. CVC investments in successful startups that balance strategic needs and financial gains will serve as a crystal ball to take a glimpse of the future of business.

3. What have been your greatest successes at your unit?

It hasn’t been long for any of my cases to have it exited already, but so far I have been involved in most of the battery technology deals for LG Energy Solution. It’s an honour to be part of the innovative battery technology startups in the world and prepare for LG Energy Solution’s future strategy and business. I’ve had the opportunity to work on deals that involved a wide range of industries and businesses of other LPs like LG Chem, LG Display and LG U+, which makes my work evermore dynamic and rewarding.

4. What have been your biggest challenges?

Personally, I’ve found my biggest challenge to be in learning how to switch back and forth between breadth and depth. My current role as an investment professional requires me to work on multiple assignments simultaneously, making the decision whether to focus on breadth or depth at a given task. It gets hectic, and sometimes even exhausting, but work has never been more fun than this before. I love the opportunity to learn new things, whether it be for my new role as an investor or the innovative new idea of a startup, and be part of the front edge of the fourth industrial revolution we are all in.

5. What’s your main professional ambition for the future?

I want to grow as a successful venture capital practitioner with a strong track record, not only from the return on investment perspective but also from the strategic side providing value for the corporation. As CVCs become more and more important for the VC-startup ecosystem, I hope that in the future I will be able to look back and say that I have served my parts well in nurturing LG Tech Ventures to grow further and become a respected leader in the space, beneficial and loyal to all the VC and startup networks involved.

6. What do you think all CVCs could do better to make it a stronger industry?

CVCs must continue to work educating and guiding for its parent companies to successfully navigate the venture capital industry. The success factors in the VC industry are very different from the ones for a corporate business, and it is important to help them understand the nature of the VC business for it to become an amicable long-term player in a virtuous circle in the ecosystem. And as we have more and more valued CVC players in the network, I believe we will have a much stronger industry, even more, vibrant and energetic than today.

7. And, finally, for colour, what did you do prior to CVC or in your spare time?

Before coming to Silicon Valley, I was a consultant for Boston Consulting Group. I also worked for LG Chem as an R&D scientist and a business developer. I have a PhD in biomedical engineering from Cornell University, where I developed gene delivery therapeutics. For my undergrad, I studied mechanical engineering and computational mathematics at Virginia Tech. In my spare time, I like to play various sports, in particular ping pong, tennis, golf, and snowboarding. For the last few years, I’ve spent my personal time and delved into the cryptoverse, involved in areas including cryptocurrencies, social, gaming and meme tokens, DeFi, NFTs, DAOs and metaverse, and became an avid crypto investor and advocate. I am also a micro vlogger, recording and sharing moments of my life with videos of less than 60 seconds.