Korean entrepreneur Changseong Ho shares the lessons from failure he’s applying to his new ventures
Drawing on past entrepreneurial experiences, failed or successful, and applying them to new startups is probably one of the key reasons why serial entrepreneurs are more likely to succeed than first-time entrepreneurs.
Changseong Ho, co-founder of crowdsouced subtitling platform Viki, has proved this, as both of the two pillar concepts of his current endeavor Vingle, global vision and interest-based groups, derived from his previous entrepreneurial efforts. This week, Ho shared with TechNode his entrepreneurial experiences, as well as his vision for Vingle, an interest-oriented service, and his micro-VC, TheVentures.
In 2000, Ho and his wife Jiwon Moon founded their first startup Web-C Intermedia, a fashion simulator. The company ended in total failure in the Korean market, mainly due to bad market timing and small market size, said Ho, as he reflected on the memory. To their utmost surprise when studying in the U.S., several U.S. companies working on exactly the same thing as Web-C Intermedia are very successful there. The failure of their first startup drove Ho to adopt a global vision and expand focuses beyond Korean market.
With previous lessons in mind, Ho and Jiwon started crowdsourced subtitling platform Viki in 2007 with an international team. As a volunteer-powered community, Viki offers real-time subtitling of global TV shows, movies and other premium content. The site claims to now have 22 million users, translating contents into more than 160 languages. Viki was acquired by Japanese e-commerce giant Rukuten for a reported $200 million last year.
Motivated by the devotion and passions of avid fans, Ho launched his third startup Vingle in 2011, aiming to expand the passionate community power to all kinds of interests ranging from fashion, entertainment, art, pop culture, and so on. Moreover, it is not limited only to video this time, said Ho.
“Vingle has text, picture and video-oriented contents. But content type doesn’t matter. We provide a space and community where people with similar interests can share and interact. That’s the point,” he said.
Like Viki, Jiwon and Ho co-founded Vingle with an international team. Currently, the site has 2.8 million monthly active users, mainly from Korea, the U.S. and some other English-speaking countries. In June, it had 100 million page views. The page views and users on mobile keep increasing, with Vingle currently having 1.4 million app downloads, Ho added.
Founded in 2011, Ho believed Vingle has passed the threshold of amassing its initial user community, and the business is starting to take off after reaching a critical mass in Korea. More and more popular bloggers and content contributors use Vingle as their blogging platform or tools to promote their blogs, according to Ho. The company is now building Japanese and Chinese teams, looking to explore cross-border opportunities.
“Most social networking services connects people to people, therefore, the social graph is formed around regional, social, school networks. But Vingle connects like-minded people through interests.”
In addition to some seed funding from Viki, Vingle has raised a Series A from Korean venture capital K Cube Ventures, and is planning to raise Series B next year.
Though Vingle has tried some e-commerce related business models, the company’s revenue will eventually be based on advertisements by connecting shoppers to the sellers, since it won’t be handling the inventories directly, said Ho.
With the goal of sharing experiences on building an international team and operations, Ho also set up micro-VC TheVentures to help entrepreneurs who are looking for cross-border opportunities. There are no regional or industry sector restrictions for portfolio companies.
TheVentures has invested in 10 companies since its establishment six months ago. The investment amounts range between $100,000 and $150,000.
Adopting an aggressive investment strategy, Ho tends to get involved in the development of startups that share the same visions with him, and helps these projects grow by adding new values. As an entrepreneur himself, Ho said he believes his team has better execution powers. The young venture capital company hires specialists in technology, marketing, etc. to fill the gaps where there are some missed components in their portfolio companies.
This story originally appeared on TechNode.
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