In 2002, John Goscha, then attending Bobson College, suddenly wondered what it would be like to cover the whole wall with paper and use it like a white board. However, as paper is not reusable, he would have had to repaper the whole wall after it became full of his scribbles. At this point, he devised erasable paint. When he paints the wall, the wall itself becomes like white board so the scribbles on the wall can be erased. In 2003, Goscha received fund from his school and started research to make the paint. During the process, he failed many times.
However, Bobson College continued to support his research and he eventually succeeded. In 2008, he founded a company named “IdeaPaint.” His paint is now being sold in more than 50 countries throughout the world, earning his company over 20 million dollars per year. The above story is an example of a successful start-up originally supported by a college. However, this is not the only such case. In Korea, the number of university students who also run their own companies is increasing. While this in Korea is spreading widely, what do Donggukians think of start-up?
The Post conducted a survey on Donggukians’ interest in and awareness of start-up. Among the 300 student respondents, 74 percent of them replied they are not interested in start-up while only eight percent of them said they are. Also, regarding the question about whether the students previously knew about any start-up programs on campus, 71 percent of them responded “yes,” while 29 percent of them said “no.” Moreover, among those who had known about start-up programs on campus and are interested in launching one, 12 percent of them replied that they had actually used the start-up programs that are offered on campus. One of the survey participants, Lee Da-ye, a sophomore majoring in English Literature, said she did not know there were programs offered from campus for students who want to launch a start-up. Likewise, as the results of the survey imply, yet there are many students who are unaware of these start-up programs or even the existence of the Youth Entrepreneurship Center, where students can get institutional and infrastructural support in launching a start-up. Then, what kinds of start-up programs does our campus provide?
<Helping Donggukians to Become Future Entreprenuers>
Starting from this semester, all the entrepreneurship centers on campus were combined into one, called The Youth Entrepreneurship Center. The Center was newly established for the purpose of launching full-scale start-up programs for young entrepreneurs, including an institutional and infrastructural system. As for the institutional system, there are both regular and after-school courses where students can gain the educational background and professional knowledge of specific fields necessary for a start-up. For instance, there are lectures in technical start-up fields, global social marketing, and big database analysis. In addition to these additional courses that are offered at the Center, students can learn and experience the full start-up process by double majoring in Technological Entrepreneurship, a program under Venture Opening.
During the program, students learn how to recognize opportunity, generate ideas, validate innovative business models, bring new technologies to market and launch new ventures. During the first and second years, Technological Entrepreneurship majors take a variety of liberal arts courses, core business courses and Introduction to Entrepreneurship. During the third and fourth years, students take advanced business core and specific Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovation courses. Choi Jang-ho, a senior double majoring in Computer Science and Engineering and Technological Entrepreneurship, said he is fairly content with courses offered in the Technological Entrepreneurship major.
He also added that, when preparing a start-up, it is important to have an overall knowledge of business, economics, law, and accounting. This is because a start-up is not focused on one specific field of study; rather, it is a combination of various academic fields. Another system that was established to help future entrepreneurs is called Fostering System for Student Start-ups. This system helps groups of students by providing one-on-one consulting and a mentoring program linked to professionals or corresponding organizations.
Moreover, the Youth Entrepreneurship Center offers camps that help students to build entrepreneurship. In general, these camps can be divided into three types. First, the Basic Camp is designed for all students without any limitation as to who can participate. This camp provides lectures for TRIZ, which is an international certification for theory of solving invented problems. The second one, Actual Camp, deals mainly with the start-up system and the additional academic knowledge needed for a start-up, such as accounting and law. During the final type of camp, the Activity Entrepreneurship Camp, students can gain first-hand experience by visiting creative enterprises. Additionally, a mentoring program is offered within this camp program, so students can have a chance to explore various careers.
|▲ Students are showing their invented item on a start-up exhibition. / Photograph from The Youth Entrepreneurship Center|
In addition to the start-up programs to foster entrepreneurs, a leave of absence system for students’ preparing to launch a start-up was also introduced this semester. This system was established in order to reduce pressure on students launching a start-up. Although the procedure generally follows the regular leave of absence system, students also need to submit a document to prove they are launching a start-up, and the maximum length of leave is four semesters. Students using this system can also request a regular leave of absence with an additional break of up to six semesters. As of now, eight students have requested a leave of absence to launch a start-up. As for infrastructural support, the Center has rented an office from the Chungmuro Media Center for students to use upon request.
The Center is also offering spaces for students to use for start-up idea meetings. Lee Hyeon-ha, ’09 Economics, said he took advantage of the school’s support system as he prepared to launch his start-up. Students might not be able to afford to rent their own offices, but with the help of the university’s support system they are able to reduce the financial burden.
<Opening the Doors toward Successful Start-up>
A wholehearted support and adventurous mind to launch start-up are needed
While Dongguk has several programs that support students who want to launch a start-up and the awareness is rapidly increasing, there is still a room to be increased compared to the U.S. Then how is the awareness of start-up in the U.S. different from that of South Korea? According to Ko Young-ha, a CEO of Korea Business Angels Association, about 70 percent of American students dream of a start-up while 60 percent of Korean students visit bookstores to buy books to prepare for exams for civil servants. The biggest difference regarding the knowledge about start-ups between Korea and the U.S. is related to the support from alumni. University alumni help current students who want to launch a start-up by providing advice and estimate the chance of a start-up’s success. Therefore, if university students have the desire to make their own companies, there are always supporters who can help them.
There are also many cases of American university towns providing programs to support start-up beginners. First, a lot of universities run start-up investment promotions. At Stanford University, students present their planned items to get investment. The press as well as CEOs of several companies participate in the investment promotions, evaluate students’ items, and decide whether to invest their money or not. This can be connected to partnerships between students and companies. At MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), there is a Business Plan Competition every spring. The possibilities of successful start-up are publicly evaluated in this competition. The 21st competition will be held this year. More than 120 companies have been founded through this competition.
The second systematic start-up support in the U.S. is the business accelerator. Even though this does not represent direct support from universities, many start-up supporting centers at universities connect students with these business accelerators. A business accelerator is a private company that gives monetary support to potential company founders. It is a little bit different from financial support without compensation. Business accelerators invest money in the students. Anyone can apply for the support, but business plans are thoroughly evaluated. Only ten percent of the applying companies are selected for the investment. The maximum amount of the investment is 90,000 dollars. Founders have to complete their start-ups in less than six months. During this period, experts in various fields offer advice. This system is unusual that it presses applicants to meet a deadline for the settlement of a newly founded company. Through this system, founders can concentrate on their work more effectively. After six months, founders present their materialized plan of operation and based on the estimated value of their products, investors decide whether to continue their investment.
|▲ Bobson College students are participating in the EIR program. During the program, they can receive practical advice on how to launch a start-up from professional entrepreneurs. /Extracted from Google|
As for infrastructural support, a representative example is the existence at certain universities of institutions that take exclusive charge of patents. At Boston University, the OTD (Office of Technology Development) patent experts are in residence and counsel the students. These experts enact the whole process from idea to patent application. There is also an EIR (Entrepreneur In Residence) system at some American universities. More than a hundred veteran entrepreneurs are on hand at the University of Utah. They advise and share practical experiences with students who want to launch a start-up. At Stanford University, alumni take on that role. As Stanford University is located in Silicon Valley and many graduates start their work in the area, the university makes good use of alumnus leverage for future entrepreneurs.
<Present and the Future of Start-up support at Dongguk University>
|▲ A student is exhibiting his development product. This bicycle is designed for disabled people who cannot use their legs. The product won an Excellent Award in the Disabled Start-up Competitive Exhibition./ Photograph from Youth Entrepreneurship Center|
How then can these start-up support programs from universities in the U.S. be adopted to Dongguk University? And what are the shortcomings that Dongguk needs to make up for? Firstly, in terms of systematic construction, mentor programs are most urgent for Dongguk. Mentors should not only be university faculty, but also real entrepreneurs who have a lot of working-level experience in the field of business. An exclusive patent supporting institution is also needed at Dongguk. When a student devises a new product, the developer has the right to earn money from it. As university students do not know much about the patent application system, it would be good to have a patent supporting institution on campus and receive professional counseling from experts. In addition to these programs, connecting students with start-up sponsors will be another useful asset. Like business accelerators in the U.S., when sponsors give financial support as a form of investment and press investees to concentrate on their start-ups, they will take a bigger responsibility in making sure these new businesses survive in competition.
In terms of infrastructure, space and equipment are needed for student founders to foster their companies. For example, conference rooms for student start-up clubs or equipment rental facilities should be provided. Lee Hyeon-ha, Economics major and a CEO of ARTTECH LAB, suffered from a lack of equipment. He needed visual art equipment to make his product, but it was too expensive for him to buy. He said, “I had difficulty in renting equipment all the time. If the school had a rental service for student company founders who work in these fields like us, it would be a lot easier for us to make a good product.”
Lastly and most importantly, student awareness about start-up should be increased. At Dongguk, there is a lecture for freshmen about start-up programs called “Entrepreneurial Frontiership.” However, this lecture only deals with theory, not practical operations. This lecture should be made more practically, so students who want to launch a start-up will be able to have broader insight into business and management. Also, the connection between graduates and current students can be widened through an alumni association seminar. In the seminar, all the participants would get together, share information related to start-ups, arrange a place to network, and extend understanding. In this process, undergraduates and alumni will also be able to form long-lasting relationships.
Dongguk University has just begun supporting its students to launch a start-up. As it is still at the starting line, much systematic and infrastructural strength can be benchmarked against well-developed university programs in the U.S. Current problems regarding the lack of support for students’ start-up can be dealt with in this way. Also, if students themselves have novel ideas and the will to actualize their dreams, start-up support programs at Dongguk can be the stepping stone from which the students can take the leap to become future entrepreneurs.
<Food Makers' Start-up Story of CafeIn>
“CafeIn” is one of the small groups of Department of Food Science and Biotechnology that aims at start-up related to food. CafeIn was launched in 2013 and about 30 students are actively working. Last year, with the support of LINC, the first team of CafeIn made a small company that sells dutch coffee. The second team is now developing new items like fermented coffee, and vinegar. They receive help from their Alumni financially and professors advise them in selecting good items. While preparing items, they are working for theses that help them to get jobs in the future. CafeIn is now preparing to be a student club.
Q: What were the advantages of using start-up support program from school?
A: We failed to receive the support when we proposed the business last year and we knew that our business plan was not enough to be supported by the school. LINC advised us how to write business plan in more detail. We have gotten confidence and thought that we would do better than before. Applying for start-up support itself was a good experience for us.
Q: Is there something that Dongguk’s start-up support should make up for?
A: I think the most urgent problem is in the space. Second, usually LINC supports narrow spectrum of start-up such as IT or engineering, so there are not a lot of experts we can ask for advice.
Q: What does start-up mean to you as a university student?
A: I think start-up provides life-long experience. I realized that I should have comprehensive understanding of various fields such as business management, economics, law, accountings. Through start-up, I had opportunity to learn how the society actually runs.
Na Soo-hyun, Kim You-jeong email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
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