A Tough Start to a Strong End
Just several years ago, many were unsure of the meaning of start-ups. Today, the same word represents the outcome of business ideas arising from bright-minded individuals around the world. The presence of start-ups redefined how businesses operated. Gone were the days where it was tough to run a business without adequate capital flow. Rather, mind-blowing innovations now arise from the room of a college dormitory, a self-contained studio or simply in one’s garage.
The brains behind South Korea’s most valuable start-up, Coupang is 41-year old Bom Kim. Like many other prospective entrepreneurs, graduating from Harvard’s most prestigious MBA means being one step closer to his dream. Yet, merely half a year into the course, Mr Kim decided that studying wasn’t his cup of tea and pulled out from the course. Today, he owns the $9-billion e-commerce giant who boasts a customer database close to half of the entire population in Korea. The business started less than ten years ago based on a Groupon-style business introducing daily offers. Yet, Kim was diligent enough to ride on the opportunity upon noticing the growing role of e-commerce.
Despite its success in crossing the $1 billion in sales, Kim was fast to realise that something was wrong with the business model. Eventually, he finally settled with Coupang as an end-to-end platform aimed at providing consumers with a seamless experience. Today, the country operates more than 5000 drivers known as Coupangmen, who produce an outstanding track record of delivering 99% of orders within 24 hours.
The Korean firm raised the bar for service standards with its new Dawn Delivery service – guaranteeing 7 am delivery for orders made before midnight the night before. Kim’s secret lies in the belief that their attention to details was what differentiated his firm to that of other firms. Another notable start-up hails from Singapore’s Carousell who is founded jointly by three Singaporean students while on exchange in Silicon Valley. This online marketplace is a platform that allows consumers and businesses to buy and sell both new and second-hand goods. Yet, what allows the firm to set itself apart is the fact that the entire process of listing the good takes only 30 seconds.
Buyers can explore, choose and purchase via the app before both parties come to a common consensus on the form of payment and delivery. While the business is now valued in US$550 million back in May 2019, the trio was faced with a rough start. The first 18 months of their venture together saw all founders drawing zero salaries. Yet, it was evident that short term losses will be paid off by longer-term gains. In November, the firm agreed to merge with a local firm known as 701Search, thereby boosting its value to $1.2 billion.
These firms are just two out of countless other start-ups globally who have now reaped the harvest of their labour. Despite the differences that exist in both start-ups, they both share a common goal – to create meaningful benefits for their customers. Thus, when firms do not prioritise their growth above everything else, the sum of its benefits will certainly outweigh its costs in the long run.
By Caroline Wong
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