Yanadoo CEO 김민철 / 28 challenges, 25 failures
1. Hi, I am 김민철, the CEO of Yanadoo.
“Hey, you can do it too!” I am 김민철, the CEO of Yanadoo. I worked in KT, the so-called major company, and worked well with high salary and solid welfare before moving to a small boutique and working there for 3 and half years.
At some point in my company life I got bored and frustrated, so I led myself into startup business with 100 million won that I got through severance pay and small business loan.
2. The most typical person in Korea
I was born in Busan, and came to Seoul with only 3 pairs of underwear. I didn’t have exquisite academic background or any special career. I started my first career as a cashier in an arcade, earning 230,000 won per month, and this was after about 100 job interviews.
I also tried publishing baseball newspaper, working as a street vendor, selling lunch boxes, opening up a café, … I tried everything.
Actually these were all after I had a near-death experience in August 5th 2006 when I got into an accident in the highway; I realized that death is always near me regardless of my own will.
3. 28 startups, 25 failures ‘the master of fails’
My first startup was baseball newspaper(Seagull times). I did like baseball very much, and it was also for the Lotte fans who used to use ripped off newspapers when they cheered. I expected them to read the newspapers but they didn’t, costing me the initial 300 million won investment. I was 35 at the time.
The next item was the baseball cheerleading hair band. I started making the bands with 3 friends and sold them at the SK Munhak stadium, and it was sold out in the first 15 minutes. Then the business got big and I made the hair bands for all 8 clubs of KBO. I also repaid my debt in 2 years and had 300 million won of my own.
I used this money to invest in 토목달 of EBS.
4. I succeeded, but I failed
Everyone was against that investment, but as a result it was a huge success and I earned 15 billion won in just 18 months. I could have stopped there but I didn’t, and I continued to try new business(lunch box, mango, kids academics, shopping mall, café) which mostly failed and I ended up losing 10 billion won. I had about 5 billion won left, so I challenged myself in the English speaking business which went huge and became the current Yanadoo.
(Actually there was even a point when only 110,000 won was left in the company account.)
The motto of Yanadoo was ‘to give motivation fee to those who don’t want to try’, and we tried out with the small things that we were 100% sure for success.
For example, the little things like brushing your teeth 3 times a day or having all 3 meals a day.
5. You don’t fail over a night.
To fail was a painful thing. It is a disgrace and you fall into a deep frustration. I failed too much that I became the master of failing.
In my case I think it was because I was too reckless when I saw potential ideas and also I believed in people too easily.
“Failure does just come overnight. It is built. If you own a restaurant, you don’t lose customers all at once. The number of customers will steadily decline and your money runs out little by little.”
To overcome your failure you need to be confident. You have to experience success with the little things and earn confidence again.
6. Think of failures as trials.
After numerous failures I learned to think of them as ‘trials’. Trials on how to manage myself, how to set goals, how to overcome crisis, etc. Life is all about mentality and routines. I have to control and manage my mentality and have healthy habits. I do 22 pushups every day, which suits me well, and I also read a page of a book every day. The important thing is to do the easy ones steadily.
“You are a bully if you want to achieve something without effort, or if you downsize other people’s efforts.”
The reason we train ourselves is because nothing is earned for free in this world. Nowadays they say that you are strict and old if you emphasize the word ‘effort’, but if there is a say to live well without making efforts, please teach me a lesson.
7. You have to enjoy the risk
Nothing will change if you are not willing to take any risk. Even babies tumble over numerous times to take their first walk, Michael Jordan became the king of basketball through countless effort and practice.
To succeed you need to fail, and don’t be afraid of taking risks. Just give it a go.
You don’t have to be hasty. If you have a goal just walk your way towards it with a steady mindset, and someday you will arrive at that goal. Happiness will come to you the way you think, whether it’s about the money, the health or the people, so just don’t give up until that time comes.
8. Listen to other people
I was once arrogant, not listening or asking to anyone. I was overdosed with the slight success that I had experienced, which then led me down the path to failure, so now I know that listening to other people is of great importance.
Now I’m so gullible, so I always listen and think about the things that my mentors say to me.
"Hey, You can do it too"
About the interviewee
Busan Dong-A University
CEO of Yanadoo (Meged with Kakao Kids)
Lecture in Sebasi
GyoungGi Startup platform(2019)
Songpa Job fair (2019)
Daego Creative Economy Innovation Center (2019)
Special lecture in Jeonbuk Univ. (2018)
Special lecture in Coreana Cosmetics (2018)
Special lecture in Gangdong ward office (2018) etc.
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