How to cope with “incredible challenge”?

“Incredible Challenge” is one of most popular and long-running reality shows in Korea. 6 gentlemen who run on the show are already well-known (but naughty and goofy) celebrities. What they do on the show is that they try out a new mission from posing for new year’s photo calendars to mimicking professional wrestling. Certain mission is easy (and short) enough to conclude during one day episode. Though, some other missions require quite amount of time and lessons to get familiar with the mission and practice for the real show.

This morning, I was watching “Incredible Challenge” re-run special episode celebrating its 200th sequel showing one of best moments of this show. People run on this show are celebrities, but most of them are comedians or TV show hosts. Also, they do not look athletic. They are just normal Mr. Do’s who you can see in you neighborhood. Though, some of missions they carry are truly incredible. For example, if they are given mission of doing Bobsleigh, they just go and learn in a week or so and have to do it. They tried Tango dance, modern band, and WWF-style wrestling under huge time pressure. At least, they managed to finish their missions with bit of professional coaching. However, they are busy celebrities lacking even time to sleep. They cannot commit entire time schedule to figure out and do their missions. Though, at the end of day, we could see from their faces what it feels like getting done “almost impossible” missions-often times, very physically demanding and time consuming for total beginners like them.

I thought “Incredible Challenge” depicts some of early entrepreneurs in Korea after Korean War who never had enough resource, money, and also knowledge of what they were doing in business. Though, they figured out, found right people to work with, and eventually created huge value back to society. Everyone might have said things they were doing impossible or they were not capable. Though, they believed in themselves and they made it. Maybe, someone might say time was on their sides. Though, the truth is that they had no fear for incredible challenges no matter how big challenges were. They are real giants of modern day history.

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Cloud sourcing can be an answer?

KT (Korea Telecom) has recently announced that it would enact “Smart Work” policy. Using its ubiquitous network infrastructure, KT now lets its employees work on their own time schedules and at their most preferred locations.

Remote office concept is quite common for large multinational companies, but it’s still untested idea for most Asian countries. Corporate Asia still highly values in-house collaboration. Corporate hierarchy encourages lower ranking team members to interact with their boss face-to-face. We will see whether it’s going to be one time event or frontier-ish business decision of a mammoth Korean telecom company.

One area I’ve been quite fascinated lately is “cloud sourcing” application in the corporate world. Every major project can be disassembled to small tasks. What if a corporate finds a way to delegate non-core activities to more intelligent and skillful “micro contractors” at a fraction of costs to maintain full-time employees or part-timers in-house. What about those busy working professionals who get paid for their time commitments? In order to maximize their profit level, both efficient resource planning and time management is a key to success.

I look forward to seeing a connecting point between people who can provide labor and people who can provide so-called “micro jobs.” Don’t we spend almost half of life to do something that make your living anyways?

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VC work is like talents management

It’s a short tweet before I wrap up this week. Like I posted an article earlier, I’m in discussion with media & promotion agency for privately-held VC forum in Seoul. VC’s venture formation process is somewhat similar with what talents management firm does. Putting huge efforts to make products known and usable to wider range of customer base is one of big VC activities. Attracting investors and winning loyalty in the public market is a rigorous process, but it is a must-do to make our investment more fruitful.

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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.