Invest in entrepreneursIt’s been a long time since an interview made me tear up. 36-year-old Victor Ching, CEO of Miso, Korea’s leading housekeeping service application, discussed his struggle as an entrepreneur. Born and raised in Hawaii, Ching came to Korea in 2005 and started a business four times. “Starting up a business is far harder than people think. There is a bottom beneath what I thought as a rock bottom.”
He had failed in the third business, where he served as a CEO for the first time. It was Chin-Chin, a social media-based dating application. On a cruel question about how he felt when closing a business, he said, “In fact, it is easy to close a business. The hardest time is before you decide to shut down. I had nightmares almost every day and woke up at 4:30 am, thinking about what to do next. Closing a business let me see where my limits are.”
Then, why does he keep on trying new businesses?
“I asked my business partner if he was stupid or crazy for doing something so hard. I think I am on the crazy side. A start-up valued at 1 trillion won ($880.3 million) is called a “unicorn.” But there is a less than 0.001% chance of becoming one. But whenever I start a business, I always think that I can make it. This doesn’t sound normal.”
Lately, I constantly think about why startup spirit is not as passionate in Korea as in the United States and China. CEOs of global IT companies say that Korea lacks the culture of not fearing failure, and failed startups are not recognized as social assets.
While Chin-Chin failed, other dating apps would learn from the failure. Victor Ching’s crazy ventures were not vain. Society needs to encourage the madness and continue to help entrepreneurs to learn from their mistakes. In the end, a fool or a madman can change the world.
*Industrial news reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo.