Professor takes fresh approach to start-ups

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Professor takes fresh approach to start-ups

On a recent afternoon earlier this month, 38 students attending Seoul National University Business School gathered in classroom No. 312 on the third floor of the faculty building. Also joining them was Kang Yun-seon, the CEO of Juno Hair, one of Korea’s largest salon chains, and five of her executives.

The students, all with entrepreneurial ambitions, were there to attend a training lecture by Cho Dong-sung, professor emeritus at the university.

After Kang addressed the group, the students formed six groups to begin work on a start-up plan due at the end of the semester. And so marked the start of Cho’s new course, Design and Business Strategy, which was offered this semester.

Until mid-December, the 65-year-old will teach his students the theories behind business creation and help them hone their skills and expertise.

His idea is currently something of a novelty, aimed at encouraging young people to start their own businesses. But perhaps the most unique aspect about the course is that the group that comes up with the best business model will be given the chance to have their start-up funded by the professor.

Cho came up with the idea last year after retiring. To carry out his plan, he recruited about 30 professors from around the country, all of whom were formerly his students and members of the Korea Mechanism-Based Management Academy.

The financial backing available amounts to 1 billion won ($958,000), with each professor putting tens of millions of won into the fund.

“Although the fund is not so big in terms of size, it is very significant that a business professor invests in a business model made by students and teaches them the importance of start-ups,” Cho said.

He added that the professors’ investments will likely be more successful than those by ordinary investors, with the teachers possessing long-term experience in consultancy, start-up management and various corporate projects.

The professors now offer a Start-up Business Management course at each university, and instead of midterms and final exams, students are required to bring start-up plans. The two best teams from each university will be selected in December.

Out of the 60 teams chosen, 10 will make it to the final round. The winner will be decided at a year-end two-day event in Seoul.

Around 300 university students will attend.

Cho’s areas of specialty include competitive strategy, corporate philosophy and entrepreneurship, among others.


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