Mar 16

Seoul Olympic Opening Ceremony

It’s early Sat morning and I find myself with my 4 year old son. Weekends are not for resting when you’re a dad. I want more sleep, but I know that I only have a few more years of this with my son. I play a little hide and seek. We do some coloring. I feed him some lucky charms. We do a bit of cosplay power rangers style (i’m green ranger and my son, yellow). Only 1 hour has passed.

I let my wife sleep in with our daughter.

Son wants some jellybeans. I say no.

And I turn to youtube. But I feel guilty so I watch youtube with him. I turn on the Seoul Olympic Opening Ceremony for him. I told him I’ll show him some cool Taekwondo.

I was like 8 years old during the 1988 Seoul Olympics. To be honest, I didn’t care about it much back then. But I do remember the opening ceremony. Looking back now, as an adult, as a dad, as a startup founder in Seoul, It’s amazing. It’s amazing to see how much this country has grown. It’s amazing that I’m back here. It seems like so long ago. I started to cry a bit. Watching this low def youtube video.

I don’t know why.

Sep 15

Relaunching Seoulspace and Startuptree

Seoul-SpaceKorea still has a lot of changing to do until it can be recognized as a major tech hub. Starting to read some news on Korean unicorns and etc…but i’m still not seeing an environment where new startups can grow. I wanna change it somehow. Sounds crazy but yeah…why not me? I’ll do it.

A few years ago, I came across Seoulspace. It seemed exciting at the time to read about a startup accelerator here in Seoul. I think in the last year or two, a whole bunch of startup accelerators are popping up. I made my rounds when I first launched Mashups. It was terrible. It was for students. And they were only looking for companies that fast followed. Companies that copied an existing app. Anyway, I have the opportunity to relaunch Seoulspace and Startuptree.

I’m working with devs and my designer to create a unique and honest community for startups here in Seoul, South Korea.

To be continued…

May 15

Startups in Seoul

startups-seoul-south-koreaI’ve been doing the startup thing for about a year now. 365 days. Seems not too long. But I have to say that i experienced so much. Looking back, I feel stupid for thinking that I could do this. But i’m a year wiser and I understand the flow of the startup scene here in Seoul, Korea.

It’s pretty safe to say that most cities have their own take on what the startup scene should look like. Seoul is different from the states. Seoul is small. But it’s super dense. So most people pretty much know each other. And the startup culture in Seoul isn’t as developed. So a lot of the venture capitalists/angel investors can take advantage of startup founders.

If I had to clone myself and send my clone back in time, this would be my advice.

1. Don’t quit your job till you and your co-founders have a product. It doesn’t even have to be a beta version. But have to have something to show. Can’t just shop around a deck and expect people to give you money.

2. Test your work environment and team chemistry with your co founders. I started Mashups with two other co founders. Unfortunately, I had to kick one of my co founders out a few months ago. I’m a big believer in the “team is better than product” saying.

3. Eat ramen and don’t buy anything. Don’t buy equipment, computers, furniture. Just bring stuff from home. Money burns fast as a startup and you need to make each Dollar or Won count.

4. Get an office. I know i said that money burns fast, but the work space is essential. Hard to focus at a coffeeshop. And when you pay rent, the whole team’s mentality gets serious. Everyone has to give 110%. Everyone on the team has to go all in. And paying rent give you a great work space for the team, and gets everyone to go all in.

5. Sell your family. You have to get your family to really believe in your startup. This is really important. There were times when i cried by myself. I was so stressed and scared. If My wife and my family didn’t support my crazy ass decision, I think i would have quit. And that’s the key to increase your odds. Survival. Just survival for that next pitch. Survive for the next meeting, lead, etc…

Sep 14

Fragmentation of Information in Korean Startup Space

fragmentation-infoI moved out here to Seoul Korea 4 years ago. I had trouble early on because Korea isn’t really a foreigner friendly place. Out of Asia’s major cities, I’d rank Seoul be last on the list. I speak Korean, but it was still hard. A lot of factors for why this is, but I want to blame the Korean internet.

Seoul has the world’s fastest internet speeds. It has the largest mobile smart phone market penetration. Yet, the Korean web is filled with old tech such as ActiveX. Trying to buy something online is a huge pain in the ass. You have to enter in all of these security codes and have certain software installed etc…

Google isn’t a major search engine here. Everything is pretty much Naver. This poses a serious problem for English speakers. This day and age, we are all dependent on getting info from Google. If Google can’t find some relevant info, what are we to do?

I recently launched a new startup in Seoul. Trying to find info about the startup scene here is taxing. Naver sucks and if I want to use it, I have to have get a native speaker on my team to help me. If I use google, I don’t get much. Cause there aren’t that many English based content about Seoul’s startup scene.

So it all boils down to content. Information. Fragmentation of information in the Korean Startup scene is one of the issues that my Startup is trying to fix.

1. The info that is available isn’t organized. It’s hard to find. It takes too much time to sort out and digest.

2. There isn’t enough content available for Google to crawl and index.

Starting with these two points, my team and I are in the process of building a platform that addresses these problems. I feel a need for it personally. And if it can help other Startup founders…Great.

Sean Lee out!