On October 16, the Buzzvil team made our debut at our first SoftBank Ventures Korea Forum! This year was the second time SoftBank Ventures Korea was hosting their annual Forum, and this year’s event was hosted at Grand Hyatt Seoul where SoftBank Korea’s portfolio companies, partners, and invited guests gathered to network, build relationships, and share our learnings with each other. The Forum kicked off with a welcome speech by SoftBank Korea’s CEO, Greg Moon, who then passed on the mic to SoftBank’s CEO and Chairman, Masayoshi Son, who greeted us via video message as he could not attend in person. From his welcome speech, I could see that Mr. Son is truly a future-oriented visionary, as he shared his investment philosophy of thinking at least 10 years, or even 30 years into the future. He said that he would not be good at pinpointing what the stock price of a company will be in 3 months, but he does have a good sense of predicting what will be the range in 10 years. “If there is only one thing that I am a little bit good at better than most people,” said Mr. Son, “it’s [seeing] in 10 years, the big picture and big direction in the industry because I am always thinking about this.” Based on this focus, Mr. Son says that, rather than a short-term view, he looks for the potential of a 10x return in 10 years, another 10x in the next 10 years, and so on. Mr. Son went on to say that, based on the rate of how quickly we develop new technologies, in 30 years, our lives will be very different from today. With this “exponential curve of progress,” the traditional way of doing business, information gathering, and communication will all change, and that’s where SoftBank sees opportunity. Mr. Son closed by encouraging everyone to be “the hero of tomorrow” so that SoftBank can support those with passion and crazy ideas.The next person to take the stage was Eric Gan, SoftBank’s Executive Corporate Officer, who gave a keynote speech about his journey, from starting as a financial analyst in London all the way to finding his way to YMobile and SoftBank, with diverse experiences in various countries along the way. He emphasized that starting a venture is not just about making money but rather, it’s an incredible experience, one that you should learn to enjoy. The remainder of the morning session at SoftBank Ventures Forum wrapped up with presentations by the “Best Portfolios of the Year,” where Jae Uk Park of VCNC”), Yong Jae Kim of KnowRe, and Dong Pil Kim of Systran International shared with the audience their company visions, their products, and their next steps. After lunch, the afternoon sessions consisted of presentations such as: a hacking demonstration by Min Pyo Hong of SEWORKS; a panel discussion titled “Overseas Asian Tigers” featuring William Tanuwijaya of Tokopedia (Indonesia), Roger Egan of Redmart (Singapore), Pattera Apithanakoon of ini3 (Thailand), and Jack Feng of Wandoujia (China); an update from SoftBank Ventures Korea as well as an intro of new portfolio companies (including Buzzvil!) that have joined SoftBank since their last Forum in 2013; and a final panel called “K-Tech Startup” that was more tech-focused, featuring DK Moon of iFunFactory, Jeong Won Ryu of Healcerion, and Jin Ho Park of TeraSquare. At the Forum, SoftBank also facilitated private meetings by providing a separate room with tables set up. There was also an opportunity for portfolio companies to set up booths at the “Finding Partners” session. Our team had a booth at this session as well, and had a chance to meet with investors and partners even from outside Korea as well as get better connected with other portfolio companies that are a part of the SoftBank Ventures Group.
Attending the SoftBank Ventures Forum this year was eye-opening to see what a privilege it is to have been chosen to be a part of SoftBank. It was also a great opportunity to meet the other portfolio companies and realize that we’re not alone in this crazy journey, and we’re all experiencing the same struggles and all working toward big dreams. We’re looking forward to next year’s Forum and aiming high in the meantime – who knows? Maybe we’ll be presenting as one of the Best Portfolios in 2015!
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