|Stephen Kahng, former CEO of Power Computing and chairman of the Kahng Foundation|
Former CEO Stephen Kahng called on aspiring entrepreneurs to aggressively test the waters of the global markets.
“Korean start-ups are somewhat localized. They should go outside, beyond the ‘small’ market,” he said in an interview with The Korea Herald.
Kahng is not just any former chief executive. As an engineer, he is best known for developing Macintosh-compatible computers.
In 1995, he set up the company Power Computing, which designed “Mac clones” ― computers not manufactured by Apple but use or are compatible with Macintosh ROMs and system software.
The clones were quite lucrative, as the company sold 150,000 units a year to generate annual sales of $500 million. Then in 1999, Apple acquired Power Computing for $100 million. Kahng received a 3 percent stake in Apple at the time, which was bigger than that held by the late Steve Jobs. One other feat Kahng has to his name is that he developed Asia’s first computer for Daewoo Leading Edge back in 1984.
At a recent venture fair hosted by the Future Ministry, Kahng urged participants to take a page from his past.
“If you want to make success outside Korea, you should have a presence in the local (overseas) market and hire local people. They will help you overcome cultural, financial and language barriers.”
Finding good investors is also important, he stressed. “Venture capitalists in Silicon Valley build a good management team for you with financial and marketing experts. Good investors not only provide money but also advice and a team,” he said.
Kahng saw differentiation to be another key to finding a successful niche.
“Google beat the one-time No. 1 Yahoo by providing services that were slightly different. Now, you can also take aim at niche markets by developing similar but different services from Facebook.”
Last but not least, the former entrepreneur said the fear of failing should be eliminated at all costs.
“Failure is the nature of business and makes you humble. I also had a lot of failures until I developed Mac clones and until I made success in business.”
One tip to avoid big failure is starting small and expanding after testing the market and getting advice from others.
Kahng is now retired and runs a non-profit foundation ― the Kahng Foundation ― to support people in the arts, education, politics and human rights. Early this year, he gave scholarships to eight North Korean defectors studying at Ewha Womans University through the Asia Foundation.
By Shin Ji-hye (email@example.com)