Is gov’nt sponsorship a poison pill?

This year Korean government has poured enormous amount of capital to growth strategy. KoFC, KIF, KIAT, and KVIC are the ones that poured more than $1.6B into the market with expectation that general partners raise rest of partnership. KoFC plans another $500m in the 2nd half. NPS (4th largest pension scheme) also plans sizable commitments to this growth stage investments this year. Would this policy driven initiatives create healthy investment environments or would that be deadly poison pill to the already busy middle market and growth stage investments?

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Know Thyself

Clear customer definition is a starting point of great business. Creating a new business is a rigorous process. However, it always starts and ends with a customer. I often face an entrepreneur who has wide disparity between product definition and core customer base. You may target totally wrong audience or often times your target is either too narrow or broad. Whatever the case is, it is the most important step to know who’s going to open his wallet for your darling product.

It’s not a really big surprise that you’re surrounded with those products that are extremely refined to reach you. Good example (even if it’s not a really product) would be advertisement that we watch or read from media everyday. Book publisher also goes through “does it make sense to our audience?” process all the times.

Golfzon is a Korean venture-backed company that has achieved significant success with its clear customer understanding. Golfzon offers a simulated golf experience to people who can’t afford time and money to tee off. Especially, in the country like Korea where green fee is high and distance to a golf course is fairly far, people, who want to practice but get something more than what a boring practice facility offers, find a good value here. With Golfzon, you can watch how you hit the ball and also try out a famous golf course like Pebble Beach at a nominal entry fee. Though, what makes this Golfzon business more interesting is its distribution strategy. People in Korea like to have a group activity almost daily base for bonding. It has created “Bang (I.e. chamber)” culture where people gather and enjoy their companion with an activity like singing or board-gaming. Therefore, Golfzon has targeted those small business entrepreneurs or retiree who can invest in purchasing their game systems to open a local shop with a dozen of chambers. Golfzon didn’t take a franchise or direct model. It has sold its products and now balls are on Golfzon shop owners’ hands. This way, Golfzon could cut off its massive investments (or risks) to locate a right spot or operational hassle.

Like a given example above, if you cut clear definition for your business, execution can be super easier. It’s just matter of taking a right step toward your audience. If you can align product, sales and marketing, and corporate mission altogether, your job is half way done. If you have clear understanding who you are targeting, you don’t really have to follow what other competitors already have done.

Business starts with one customer at a time. You gotta think big but know who you’re really going after first. Some known successful serial entrepreneur went through one marketable business idea per day and one investible idea per week until he got to the one that he really understood best.

Building reputation

One of most intangible assets when you start a new company is your reputation. Initial funding, follow-on investments, or even customer developments can be a lot easier if you or your colleagues have strong reputation. One thing you should be aware of is your non-business-career reputation is also very important. Often times, your old school buddies, club members, or church members can be either hidden supporters or complainers. So, do your best to build your good reputation no matter what you do.

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Multi-plot interactive drama

Multi-plot drama is an interesting concept that I recently explored with young entrepreneur who is in the entertainment industry. Given digital media delivery platform, you can enjoy more interactivity. What if there are multiple characters in the movie or TV show and you can choose a specific character to get the end of show? Movie may have one single conclusion, but it can have a different plot per character. It’s like having a single point of beginning and end, but multiple routes between them. Media publishers or TV broadcasters can enjoy multiple ad inventories simultaneously on each plot. Audience can have more fun from each plot or pick only his favorite character to follow the footage.

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I was invited to a small project initiated by Samsung recently. Mobile healthcare is a largely under-developed market. Customer acceptance level is still low and regulatory barriers are still out there. Though, increasing processing power and communication speed, there can be interesting value propositions to both care givers and patients. Can we expect anything like the Kindle in the healthcare industry?

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