It’s not over till it’s over
The author is the head of the Factpl team of the JoongAng Ilbo.
The popularity of survival audition programs is nothing new, but I am interested in “Unicorn House” on YouTube channel EO. On the show, start-ups compete for 70 million won ($59,443). While “Street Women Fighters” highlighted the leadership of underdog female dancers, “Unicorn House” focuses on moments of short yet intense growth at unnamed start-up companies.
Teams at different stages in different fields fulfil missions as they get coaching from four venture capitalists. They check whether the problems they wanted to solve with the start-up were actually problems for consumers and analyze why their projects might not work.
The persuasiveness of the program comes from the sense of reality. The “real growth” begins from acknowledging that most start-ups fail in the end, co-founders break up often and businesses with bad cashflow do not last. The harsh advice from the venture capitalists is convincing because it is based on a sense of reality. They often say, “My standard was whether I’d like to invest.”
the popularity of the YouTube show proves the start-up industry has grown outside of television. According to the Ministry of SMEs and Startups, the number of technology start-ups in manufacturing and knowledge-based service industries exceeded 180,000 in the first to third quarters for the first time. Aside from real estate, 22 percent of start-ups are technology start-ups. More quantities guarantee better quality. Some of the start-ups in the YouTube audition have investors lined up with money even as they are in an early stage. Venture capitalists bet on the value of the future rather than the present.
In a different path from the start-up founders, ordinary individuals bet on their futures in a new way. Many people learn computer programing in order to get a job as a developer at Naver, Kakao, Line, Coupang and Baemin. By learning computer programing, they believe that getting a job at IT giants means “growth” and “success.”
In the audition program, an entrepreneur who was eliminated after a month said, “Now I am going back to do my business. I started my business with the spot of an idea, and after a month, I can now grow that.”
The contestant didn’t seem disappointed. The audition is over, but the business is not. As we prepare for 2022, we need some of that optimism and courage.