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Velocity entrepreneurial mission: Part 1 – South Korea

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Each year members of the Velocity student entrepreneurship programme organising committee have the opportunity to travel abroad on an exploration and discovery trip to an international business hub. The experience is funded by the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Experiences are designed with the intention of building our international entrepreneurial ecosystem and providing reward and recognition to the volunteers who drive Velocity forward each year. Past trips have included visits to Silicon Valley and Europe. In 2019 the Velocity missionary team had the opportunity to go on a 10 day trip to South Korea and Singapore. The cohort consisted of Business and Arts student Nicholas Bing, Business and Science student Kaushal Patel and Engineering student Adedamola Wuraola.

The students found South Korea exhilarating and mysterious. It is a contradiction of old world culture and futuristic technology. South Korea have fully adopted 5G technology and introduced Smart Cities, which use different types of electronic Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to collect data and then use the data to manage assets and resources efficiently. The students visited one of these cities: Incheon. Kaushal says “The government has put a particular emphasis on safety, bringing South Korea into the future and making everything connected. The area where they started the Smart City was considered a dangerous place, but with the cameras and SOS buttons in place, the crime rate has dropped dramatically”.

Given the advances in technology, Velocity students were surprised to hear from the people they met that there is a low entrepreneurial mindset in South Korea. Entrepreneurship wasn’t attractive compared to a corporate job because of fear of failure. And the people they met explained that society does not accept failure as an option. South Korean business culture emphasises Confucian values, which value collective group harmony, respect for authority and interpersonal relationships.

Innovation is further impacted by the Chaebol Structure. This is a business conglomerate structure that originated in South Korea in the 1960s, creating global multinationals with huge international operations. The Korean word chaebol means business family or monopoly. In South Korea over 70% of the market is owned by these corporations, making it difficult for startups to expand and grow.

Adedamola says “Nothing is impossible, even with a lot of government policies in place around foreigners conducting business. One person we met was able to create a work-around and was able to establish a business successfully which is a lesson for me that business can be done anywhere and even with biases, it can only make one stronger if one doesn’t give up”.

The trip was enabled with the support of the Kea network, which connects Kiwis and New Zealand business to over 500,000 Kiwis and friends of New Zealand globally. Nicholas Bing says “The Kea network was amazing. Kiwis love to help kiwis regardless of whether they have met them before or not. Not only did the people we met give honest, raw advice about the business environment but they also gave some essential life advice for our future career journey. Advice from the various kiwis we met gave first-hand experience into the cultural, government and business environment for entrepreneurs thinking of starting up in these markets or wanting to immigrate or work there. To understand a culture is really only something that can be done through experience”.

James Hutchinson
James Hutchinson

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Each year members of the Velocity student entrepreneurship programme organising committee have the opportunity to travel abroad on an exploration and discovery trip to an international business hub. The experience is funded by the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Experiences are designed with the intention of building our international entrepreneurial ecosystem and providing reward and recognition to the volunteers who drive Velocity forward each year. Past trips have included visits to Silicon Valley and Europe. In 2019 the Velocity missionary team had the opportunity to go on a 10 day trip to South Korea and Singapore. The cohort consisted of Business and Arts student Nicholas Bing, Business and Science student Kaushal Patel and Engineering student Adedamola Wuraola.

The students found South Korea exhilarating and mysterious. It is a contradiction of old world culture and futuristic technology. South Korea have fully adopted 5G technology and introduced Smart Cities, which use different types of electronic Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to collect data and then use the data to manage assets and resources efficiently. The students visited one of these cities: Incheon. Kaushal says “The government has put a particular emphasis on safety, bringing South Korea into the future and making everything connected. The area where they started the Smart City was considered a dangerous place, but with the cameras and SOS buttons in place, the crime rate has dropped dramatically”.

Given the advances in technology, Velocity students were surprised to hear from the people they met that there is a low entrepreneurial mindset in South Korea. Entrepreneurship wasn’t attractive compared to a corporate job because of fear of failure. And the people they met explained that society does not accept failure as an option. South Korean business culture emphasises Confucian values, which value collective group harmony, respect for authority and interpersonal relationships.

Innovation is further impacted by the Chaebol Structure. This is a business conglomerate structure that originated in South Korea in the 1960s, creating global multinationals with huge international operations. The Korean word chaebol means business family or monopoly. In South Korea over 70% of the market is owned by these corporations, making it difficult for startups to expand and grow.

Adedamola says “Nothing is impossible, even with a lot of government policies in place around foreigners conducting business. One person we met was able to create a work-around and was able to establish a business successfully which is a lesson for me that business can be done anywhere and even with biases, it can only make one stronger if one doesn’t give up”.

The trip was enabled with the support of the Kea network, which connects Kiwis and New Zealand business to over 500,000 Kiwis and friends of New Zealand globally. Nicholas Bing says “The Kea network was amazing. Kiwis love to help kiwis regardless of whether they have met them before or not. Not only did the people we met give honest, raw advice about the business environment but they also gave some essential life advice for our future career journey. Advice from the various kiwis we met gave first-hand experience into the cultural, government and business environment for entrepreneurs thinking of starting up in these markets or wanting to immigrate or work there. To understand a culture is really only something that can be done through experience”.


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