Taking a page from FacebookThe ongoing job shortage, especially for young people, is one of the biggest problems facing the Korean economy. Another problem is a lack of innovation. As seen from the court battle between Samsung Electronics and Apple over patent rights, pioneers win and latecomers struggle. Local companies must be trailblazing innovators that do not shy away from risks and challenges. One solution would be to encourage more start-ups. We need a host of Mark Zuckerberg wannabes, who hope to emulate the success of the man who created the world’s most popular social networking site in his college dormitory. A wave of IT start-ups is sweeping the globe, but the trend has not yet reached our shores, even as the country prides itself as being an IT powerhouse.
But the young generation is nevertheless trying to whip up a venture start-up boom. A total of 27,000 venture companies were registered with the Korea Venture Business Association as of June, and about half of them were created over the last two years. Unlike in the past, these venture enterprises are based on innovation and creative ideas. They also come from diverse backgrounds, unlike in the past when they were mostly engineering majors.
The challenge is to find ways of nurturing and sustaining this start-up fever, and encouraging models of success a la Facebook. We should also take care of start-ups to avoid the bust that followed the venture boom in the late 1990s. More importantly, young entrepreneurs should be praised for their passion and talent.
But they can only grow in an environment that does not discourage risk or failure. Financial support is not the only encouragement they need. They need a system that promotes start-ups, investment, growth, and mergers and acquisitions. Such an environment must be organized and systematized.
They also require incubators and a mentor service that evaluates their ideas and helps them take root as competitive enterprises, as well as middlemen that connect technology with venture capital. And when they fall, they must be encouraged to pick themselves up and try again.