International Students - Alumni Success Stories
Bachelor's, Business Administration, August 2012
Current Position: Co-Founder/CEO, JSW, Seoul, South Korea
Previous Position(s): Wealth Management - Financial Analyst Intern, Merrill Lynch, Oakland, CA ; Co-Founder/Chief Content Officer, Tapas Media, Santa Clara, CA
Please describe what you do in your current position.
I lead and take all responsibilities for the company. We are creating a mobile platform for life planners & insurance salespeople in Asia, satisfying their unsolved needs, such as a TED-like idea sharing platform and cutting down on sales costs. We have a team of 12 including content developers, camera crew, mobile application developers, designers, salespeople, and operation supporters. I am responsible for keeping them inspired and motivated with our vision and goals. The hardest part of being a CEO is fund-raising, which is extremely important yet the least fun part of my job.
What strategies and resources did you use to find your current position?
I found myself not so happy when working for other people and their own vision. I came up with an idea that I came to believe will possibly benefit so many people, and imagined how fun it would be to work to bring the idea into reality with a team that bought into my idea and vision. The first thing I did to make it happen was broadening my network in the startup world, Silicon Valley. I participated in as many conferences, seminars, and social meetings where startup guys gather as I could in order to figure out what needs to be prepared and find the right people to start a business. And it worked. My co-founder was one of the most successful life planners in Korea searching for a business partner and he loved it. I also met my co-founder of Tapas Media, my first Silicon Valley funded startup, at a startup conference held by Google. (He was a google PM back then).
What was your approach in discussing your student visa status with your employer?
When I co-founded Tapas Media, which is based in Santa Clara, my co-founder knew that I was an international student and it will cost not so little money and inconvenience to "have" me in the company. However, he didn't mind at all because we knew that we needed each other to take it off. If you prove yourself first to your employer or co-founder, your visa issue is nothing but your lawyer's task.
What are your top tips for international students looking for a full time job?
I'd like to encourage international students not to presume founding your own company in the U.S as an international student is impossible. The only things you need are a killer idea, passion, and the right partner with a green card. You still have much time at Cal, which means you have enough time to be ready with the things I mentioned above. No one around me believed in my plan to start a business and get funded by Silicon Valley investors. Tapas Media has been able to get funded 3.5 million dollars from various VCs and investors so far. I can assure you that running your own company with that much money is much more fun than being an employee. :)
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