Korean IT professionals in Silicon Valley have gathered at Naver Corp. Green Factory on March 27th to share their experiences. They participated as speakers at the ‘Koreans in Silicon Valley 2017’ conference hosted by Startup Alliance to deliver their perspectives on startup trends, careers in Silicon Valley and innovation.
At the conference, 10 Korean professionals working as venture capitalists, startup founders and IT company executives presented on various topics around entrepreneurship. Panel discussions were facilitated by the director of Startup Alliance Jung Wook Lim and real-time audience response system “symflow” for Q&A.
The conference began with Troy Malone, VP of international operations at Weebly, sharing his missionary experience in Seoul and personal entrepreneurship journey in Silicon Valley. Troy was impressed with Koreans’ work ethics, how hard everyone works with pride, cultural emphasis on education, and desperate hunger for success.
500 Startups CFO, Paul Yoo, shared Silicon Valley venture capital’s perspective on the Korean startup ecosystem. 500 Startups formed $15 M USD “Kimchi Fund” dedicated to the Korean startup market in May 2015. They have been investing in 15 startups annually in Korea, a total of 29 including Althea, PeopleFund, and Finda. Paul shared that 50% of companies operate only in local Korean market versus globally.
Ronald Ro, founder of AWAIR, an air quality smart device startup, shared his unique experience in building a hardware startup in Silicon Valley. Ronald explained challenges of hardware startups due to extended product development process and larger initial capital needs. Key to success of AWAIR in achieving both speed and quality of product development was finding a domestic manufacturing partner to grow together.
During the afternoon session, co-founder of Radish Seung-yoon Lee shared his initial failures in San Francisco and his strategies in networking through Silicon Valley to secure initial funding for his current serialized fiction mobile application startup.
Phillip Yun, Co-founder of methinks, shared failure stories with his first startup in Silicon Valley. He learned the importance of finding a product-market-fit early in the phase the hard way. Building upon his challenges in finding the target market, Philip founded a market research startup, methinks, which allows startups to instantly find and talk to their target customers using video chat.
Kyum Kim of Blind presented on expansion strategies of its anonymous work talk mobile application at US technology companies. He shared that Blind gained initial traction through intensive networking efforts then later explosive growth through several technology industry scandals of Uber, Amazon, Yahoo etc.
In the last session on careers in Silicon Valley, ex-Google Ad Engine engineer, Ikkjin Ahn presented “the Speed of Silicon Valley,” sharing how he founded a mobile audience startup, moloco. Soohyun Bae, principal engineer at Magic Leap presented on technology industry recruiting process in Silicon Valley. Keumhee Jeong shared her experiences working as a Google localization program manager for 11 years.
Startup-Alliance has been hosting ‘Koreans in Silicon Valley’ conference since 2014 to bring in Korean professionals working in Silicon Valley to share know-hows and insights learned from experiences in Silicon Valley to talents in Korea. Recordings of presentations can be found on Naver TV.