DBIT Students Discover Technopreneurship in South Korea

05 Nov 2014

14 to 22 September 2014

Singapore Polytechnic DBIT Year-2 Student Htet shares her memorable Technopreneurship Discovery trip (14 Sep to 22 Sep 2014) where they experienced barefoot mountain trekking, being featured in a Korean newspaper, learning from talented Korean Startups, and pitching to Korean students.

Figure 1 (From left) Ms Dora, Tianqi, Yi Fang, Htet, James, Jie Ting, Yang Ping, Yvonne, Samuel, Yong Wei, Syafiq
What would you say if someone tells you, “You can learn about entrepreneurship by doing barefoot trekking with me on a mountain”?

Most of us would shake our heads in disbelief and laugh it off.

Believe it or not, that is what I, and nine other Diploma in Business Information Technology (DBIT) students did as part of our Technopreneur Discovery Trip to Korea from 14 September to 22 September 2014!

Our Barefoot Walking Experience

Figure 2 Group Photo with Mr Cho
Gyejoksan Mountain Red Clay Trail was one of the first few stops that gave us an unforgettable experience. It was the first stop that we came to when we arrived at Daejeon on the second day of the Korea Trip. We went on a guided trekking tour especially conducted by the founder and CEO of Mackiss, Mr Cho Wung Rae. Mr Cho was also the one who founded the Red Clay Trail on the Gyejoksan Mountain. Not many trekking tours have the founder as their guide, and we were really honoured to have that opportunity.

Mr Cho Wung Rae told us the story of how in the year 2006, when he was climbing with his close friends, he saw one woman climbing on high heels. He had taken off his shoes to give her and walked on barefoot. That night, he slept very well. After that particular night, he could never forget the first experience of barefoot walking. He felt his happiness must be shared with the community. So he started to spread the good quality of Red clay over gravel path on Mt. Gyejok.

As quoted from Mr Cho “Helping others will help yourself at the same time”. Such valuable life lessons are only one of many we picked up from this Korea trip.

Being Featured in a Korean Newspaper

Figure 3 I was excited that all of us appeared on the Daejeon newspaper and shared it on Facebook
What’s even more unexpected was that, because of our unique ways of learning entrepreneurship, we were featured in a Korean newspaper!

How it happened was that Mr Cho had an interview with the Daejeon Press during the 2 days that we were in Daejeon, and he had mentioned to the reporter about us visiting the Red Clay Trail and the Mackiss Company. This subsequently brought the attention of Daejeon Press to us, as they found it interesting that foreign students like us were visiting Daejeon, Asia’s Silicon Valley, to gain substantial insight into Korea’s start-up scene.

Figure 4 Getting Interviewed by the TV Reporters

Figure 4 Getting Interviewed by the TV Reporters
As if the experience of appearing in the Daejeon newspaper was not overwhelming enough, I was one fortunate student who was interviewed by the TV Reporters of one of the Seoul’s broadcasting stations.

Meeting the Korean Startups

There were so many other interesting activities that were part of our memorable trip such as:
  • hearing the start-up stories of talented Korean technopreneurs who might just be the next Steve Jobs
  • visiting the “Daedeok Innopolis” which is also known as the “Silicon Valley of Asia” and marvelling at the facilities that aspiring Korean technopreneurs have access to in this place
  • participating in a cross-cultural business pitching session with Korean university students
  • exploring the Seoul city with Korean university students while learning more about the culture and history of the country

Figure 5 Group Photo with Ms Minhee Lee, founder and CEO of Bapul

One of my favourite activities during the Korea Trip was taking photos with the CEOs and founders of start-ups after listening to their journeys of becoming entrepreneurs. This is simply because I idolise entrepreneurs so much, and am grateful to them for sharing their stories that really grow my passion to become an entrepreneur myself.

We listened to so many inspiring stories of founders of start-ups such as CIZION, Bapul, Chalk Academy, JellyBus, Flitto, Between and many more. If I were to write down every learning point I’ve learned from them, the list would be endless!

Pitching Our Idea

Figure 6 One of the "HallyuDirect" app wireframe that I had to finish in one day!
During the trip itself, we did a business pitch to the Korean students, who in turn pitched their business ideas to us. We had only 2 days to prepare and stayed up very late, even up to 3 am, in order to finish up and fine-tune our presentation.

My team member Jie Ting and I, came up with “HallyuDirect”, an app that acts as a curator, to merge all sources of K-Pop artistes’ fan sites into one single directory, and also allows K-Pop fans to exchange or sell K-Pop merchandise to one another.

What did I gain from the trip?

The inspiring stories of the startups managed to plant a seed of entrepreneurial spirit in me. It made me realise the value of going on a study trip. I have forged an unforgettable friendship with many Koreans, including students from the Seoul University of Science and Technology as well as student volunteers from the Hi-Seoul Youth Hostel who brought us around Seoul during the last two days.