People’s Choice Award winner: Wello at 2011 Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition

welloTeams from around the world gathered for the 2011 Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition. Last night, Wello won the People’s Choice Award at the trade show, where more than 50 investors and the public heard about novel business ideas to solve global poverty.

People’s Choice winning company: Wello
Team: Ross School of Business, University of Michigan
Business idea: Using their WaterWheel, Wello provides affordable, clean water to rural India. The wheel is a tool to retrieve clean water without heavy lifting and can be used directly by families or employ people to work their way out of poverty by serving as water distributors.

Teams are still competing for grand prize at the UW Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition. Later this week, we’ll announce finalist winning teams who will leave Seattle with seed money for their projects.

Video: Clean energy trends and challenges

Wind power. Natural gas. Hydro power. Solar power. When Puget Sound Energy President Kimberly Harris spoke with University of Washington Foster School of Business alumni, students and faculty about clean energy recently, she was also speaking with her customers.

Puget Sound Energy is the 2nd largest owner and operator of wind power in the United States and the utility’s Green Power Program was named one of the US Department of Energy’s “top 10” renewable energy programs in the nation. The Washington-based company continues to look for new ways to address energy efficiency, smart grids and power Washington residents and businesses with heat and electricity. While offering a public service and being heavily regulated, Puget Sound Energy also operates like a business, focusing on customers, return on investment, return on energy, operations management and technology innovation.

What challenges and opportunities face our energy suppliers? How can we as consumers, communities and businesses contribute to clean energy and energy efficiency? What is the future of energy? Watch this 7-minute video of excerpts from Harris’ clean energy lecture.

Click on the image below to watch video.

Kimberly Harris was one of UW Foster School of Business Dean Jim Jiambalvo’s guest speakers at the annual Leaders to Legends Breakfast Lecture Series, which include notable leaders in an array of industries from greater Seattle and around the country.

Engineering and international studies students get involved in Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition

Guest post by Ryan Kelley (UW international studies student) and Adrian Chu (UW engineering student)

Why is an international studies grad student engaged in social entrepreneurship?

I am a second year student at the University of Washington Jackson School of International Studies with a focus in political economy. Both politics and economics have developed to a point of interconnectivity that cannot be ignored, as political issues often are economic issues, with the reverse being true as well.

I see the Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition (GSEC) at the UW Foster School of Business as a focal point where bold global contestants—each having a unique window to a concept as broad and penetrating as “poverty,” represent the vanguard of beneficial changes that can be made to the world. What about each team makes their project the most apropos to how they see poverty? Does this say something about where they are from? Does their solution have a regional impact or transferability beyond a region?

If questions such as these have the possibility of being answered, what this means to me, as it should to anyone currently in international studies, is that GSEC is a global lobby where the problems of the world are brought to light in the context of their possible solutions. What the contestants ultimately bring to the table will in some way be a representation of the future in a way that we have not seen before. I believe that that promise alone begs the attention of everyone.

Ryan Kelley is a UW international studies graduate student fluent in English, Japanese and Spanish who is serving as a 2011 GSEC ambassador to foreign teams who meet in Seattle to compete.

Why is an electrical engineering undergrad student engaged in social entrepreneurship?

Growing up, I have always had a passion for entrepreneurship. The concept of social entrepreneurship occurred to me a few years ago when I came across the paper entitled “Social Entrepreneurship: The Case for Definition,” by Sally Osberg and Roger Martin on the Stanford Social Innovation Review. In the past few years, I have become increasing interested in entrepreneurial endeavors. I have been participating in a number of competitions offered by the UW Foster School of Business’ Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship: the Environmental Innovation Challenge, Business Plan Competition and the Science & Technology Showcase. Each of these activities taught me valuable lessons on the pathway to creating a successful business.

My own curiosity drew me further. Being environmentally friendly is one thing, but how can something be “green” and at the same time improve social welfare around the world?

My motivation to participate in the UW Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition was driven by the desire to apply my past professional and academic experiences in order to learn new things, meet new people and play a role in saving the world one step at a time. As an engineer, our primary occupation is to solve challenging problems. A typical business venture consists of identifying a problem and proposing a solution, while trying to maintain a profit. Social entrepreneurship is an amazing feat, where its success synergizes traditional principles of business and the ability to make a positive difference. Serving as the 2011 GSEC marketing co-chair and team ambassador for Sanergy, I am looking forward to seeing how an idea can transform into engineering design that can be developed into a product that will make a positive difference in the daily lives of people in developing countries.

Adrian Chu is a senior in electrical engineering at the University of Washington and the marketing co-chair and team ambassador for this year’s GSEC.

Reaching the milestones of start-up success

When it comes to student start-ups, more seed capital is better than less, motivation is an imperative, but a team of trusted and experienced advisors might be the greatest asset of all. So in an effort to provide more attention and resources for the most promising start-up teams after the UW Business Plan Competition, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship worked with the Herbert B. Jones Foundation to launch the Milestone Achievement Awards.  “We wanted to accelerate some of these start-ups,” says Michael Bauer, president of the Jones Foundation, a long-time supporter of the competition. “So we came up with this idea of a real financial incentive for the teams to set and reach key developmental milestones.”

Serious about starting their companies, five of the winning teams from the 2010 competition have spent the last six months participating in the Jones program. The start-ups worked with CIE staff and a special advisory committee made up of CIE board members and past winners of the Business Plan Competition to draw up a short list of “realistic but measureable” milestones they could reach within that timeframe.  “We’re proud to say four of the five start-ups reached their milestones and will receive awards,” said Connie Bourassa-Shaw, director of CIE. “But what’s really stunning about each of these teams is that they all raised angel or grant funding and have made great progress on their prototypes or pilot projects.”

Led by CEO Brian Glaister, EETech is developing a medical device that enables people in wheelchairs to walk again and received a $25,000 award. Another $25,000 went to YongoPal, a service created by Darien Brown, for South Korean university students who want to hone their conversational English with American peers at top US universities. WISErg, with team members Brandon Baker and Jaimee Jewell, developed a solution that uses compostable organic waste to create natural fertilizers and biogas, and received $15,000. Emergent Detection, led by Eric Fogel and Keegan Hall, also received $10,000 in additional seed funding for their handheld device that measures and records fat loss.

“The committee helped us identify what the most important milestones would be for our first six months, in order of priority and contingency,” said WISErg’s Jaimee Jewell. “That helped us keep each of our revenue streams fresh in our minds, but also prioritize what needed to happen to bring them all together.”

“For me, the mentorship was the best part of the program,” said Brian Glaister of EETech. “As a first-time entrepreneur and a first-time CEO, it was really helpful to have an outside view of the company, particularly to put the advice of our internal team and directors into the proper perspective. Even though the program is finished, I expect the relationships with our mentors will continue, which I’m very happy about.”

Members of the Jones committee included Marc Barros of Contour, Bill Bromfield of Fenwick & West, Alan Dishlip of Billing Revolution, Geoff Entress of Voyager Capital, Alan Portugal of Ivus Energy Innovations, Adrian Smith of Ignition, and Michael Bauer, of the Jones Foundation. And the committee had their share of accolades for the teams, noting that it was gratifying to help fellow entrepreneurs start off on the right foot and avoid some of the common pitfalls and “newbie” mistakes. “I got a real kick out of seeing the teams make progress on their first set of milestones,” said Geoff Entress. “I’m already looking forward to next year.”

Photo left to right: Brandon Baker and Jaimee Jewell of WISErg.

Lights, camera, entrepreneurship!

Guest post by Vance Roush, undergraduate student at the UW Foster School of Business

A couple years ago, as a sophomore in the UW Foster School of Business and Lavin Entrepreneurial Action Program, I was fortunate enough to interview Leonard Lavin when he visited the University of Washington. Mr. Lavin is a brilliant businessman, racehorse owner and most notably founder of Alberto-Culver Company which he recently sold to Unilever for $3.7 billion. From my interview with Mr. Lavin, I took away three key ideas that have driven my success in the business school and prepared me for my future career and entrepreneurial ventures: greatness can arise from obstacles and conflict, it’s what you have inside of you that matters, and be a risk-taker and pursue your passion.

That meeting with Mr. Lavin shaped my life, and because of that, I thought to myself, “How much more insight can be filtered to students, and how many more lives can be positively impacted if someone were able to capture entrepreneurs’ best insights and keys to success?”  That was the inspiration for the  Lavin Video Project and the “Entrepreneurship is…” video series.  This video series will bridge the gap between the Seattle entrepreneurship network, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) and the outside community.  More specifically, our goal  is to connect Lavin undergrad students to entrepreneurs in the local community in an engaging way to create meaningful relationships and tangible productions. The story behind the “Entrepreneurship is…” series is as follows:

Often times people can’t even spell the word “Entrepreneurship”, let alone fully grasp what it means. Lavin students quickly realize that there is not just one definition, but many different meanings. Our vision is to capture a wide array of perspectives on the topic by going out into the field and interacting with the business owners, serial entrepreneurs, VCs, and other thought leaders in the Seattle community in hopes that they will chime in with their thoughts, experiences, and wisdom.

The first interview in the series is with Michel Brotman, CIE’s Entrepreneur in Residence and a serial entrepreneur involved in Costco, Garden Botanica, Sweet Factory, Play Network and the Chocolate Box. Brotman believes that entrepreneurship is a very creative process and that it’s all about selling your story. He is emphatic when he states, “Entrepreneurship is art!”

The Lavin students will be unveiling other videos throughout the year with such influential local entrepreneurs as Lon McGowan of iClick, restaurateur Tom Douglas, Kay Smith-Blum of Butch Blum, and Rob Salkowitz, author of Young World Rising.We hope you follow our journey and are inspired to learn more about entrepreneurship, start your own endeavor, or become involved in the entrepreneurial scene!

Vance Roush is a senior information systems and marketing major in the UW’s Foster School of Business Honors Program. He is a Lavin student and serves as the president of the Foster School’s Business Economic Development Center. Vance plans to extend his entrepreneurial endeavors after graduation when he begins his career with Google in Mountain View, CA.

Creating a company one t-shirt at a time

Jeff BeckerLook around any college campus today and you’ll find something arguably even more prolific than cell phones and iPods. Greek system T-shirts. And if you’re on the University of Washington campus, chances are those T-shirts are from a UW start-up, Kotis Design, a company that has recently made the Puget Sound Business Journal’s list of 100 Fastest Growing Washington Companies for the third year in a row.

As a freshman, Jeff Becker (BA 2003) started making T-shirts for his fraternity’s dances. “One day a light bulb went off,” he said. “No one was making T-shirts that anyone really liked. So my goal became to sell a T-shirt to every Greek student here.” During his junior year, Becker took a pivotal class—Creating a Company. “My advice for any student is to take this class. You learn from doing. You actually run a company and do what a real business does: work with other people, have disagreements, experience the exciting times together. That was the most positive experience for me.”

Becker competed in the Business Plan Competition three times while at the UW, making it to the semi-final Sweet 16 all three times. He first entered the competition with HuSKIbus, a collaboration with Stevens Pass, The Ram, and Helly Hansen, which he developed in the Creating a Company class. His second and third entries were Kotis Design. While he didn’t win, he did see tremendous value in competing. “It really pushes you to think about the process behind starting a company. You might have a great idea but don’t know where to begin, so [the competition] is good practice.”

Today, Kotis provides customers with everything from design services and online storefronts, to packaging and fulfillment services. Becker emphasizes that in addition to the quality of the products, it’s the overall customer experience that keeps campus organizations and businesses around the country coming back again and again. The strong focus on customers has lead to a growth rate of roughly 50% every year. As Becker explains it, “We’ve experienced solid, steady growth because we have great people who are hard working, efficient and forward-thinking.”

Giving to Foster since the 1950s never gets old

Family lore has it that Frank Dupar Sr. first arrived in Seattle broke in the early 1900s because a thief got to his money the night before while he was hitching a ride in a boxcar.

He was sitting on the sidewalk near the King Street Station with nowhere to go when a man approached him and asked, “What’s the matter, sonny?” Frank told his story, and the man gave him a dime and an upbeat prognosis: “This town is going to be good to you.”

“What an understatement,” said Adrienne Riley, Dupar’s granddaughter and president of the Dupar Foundation.

After his rough start in Seattle, Riley said in an interview at the Foster School’s 2010 Annual Scholarship Breakfast on Nov. 4, Dupar went on to own a plumbing company and then co-found what became Westin Hotels and Resorts as well as several other iconic and highly successful businesses.

The Dupars made a point of giving back to the community that played such an important role in their lives, contributing to important civic projects like the creation of the Seattle Center so the city could host the 1962 World’s Fair. They also felt strongly about contributing to education.

“Since he only went through the 8th grade, education was really important to him,” Riley said.

The Dupar Foundation was established in Frank Dupar Sr.’s name in 1958 and has been contributing to scholarships at the Foster School nearly since the foundation’s inception, Riley said. And, while she has attended the scholarship breakfast for nearly ten years, she said it never gets old.

“To me it is really meaningful to see kids who have a lot going for them and, because of the scholarship, they are able to attend college and do something with their lives,” she said.

This year the Scholarship Breakfast celebrated 338 Foster students receiving scholarships totaling more than $1.8 million.

Riley said she especially appreciates knowing more about the students who have received the Dupar Foundation’s scholarship. “It’s nice to touch your money,” she said.

“This morning I sat with a young man who, after he graduated college, went into the National Guard and went to Iraq where he was in charge of convoy security missions and now here he is in his first year of the MBA program,” she said. “It is inspiring.”

Female bankers in Indian pay it forward

Guest blog post by Cate Goethals, UW Foster School of Business lecturer

Why do more women hold top banking positions in India than anywhere else in the world—including the US? My students and I went to India in September 2010 to study women’s leadership at all levels of society, including to get an answer this question.

India is a country where women are widely undervalued—a bride is burned every two hours. And where, equally counterintuitive, far fewer women go into banking, so the pool of qualified females is smaller.

Abonty Banerjee, general manager of global operations at Indian bank ICICI
Abonty Banerjee, general manager of global operations at Indian bank ICICI

Our first visit was with top female executives at ICICI Bank in Mumbai, the country’s largest private bank.  ICICI has been the training ground for most of the top women in Indian banking. Why? It grew rapidly beginning with India’s economic reforms in 1991, providing opportunities for women. It also paid less than other banks and so attracted proportionately fewer men than other banks.

“We don’t do anything special for women,” says CEO Chanda Kochhar. “But we are in a way special because we don’t have any biases. When it’s an employee, we go by the merit of the employee. When it’s an entrepreneur, we go by the merit of the entrepreneur.”

Women also work harder even in an organization of hard workers, explains Abonty Banerjee, general manager for ICICI’s global operations. “We work very long hours, typically 12 hours per day, six days per week. That is a function of our population. If you don’t do it, there are so many others to fill the job.” There is no daycare, though relatives often babysit. Women are generally expected to manage households and children regardless of career. “Women succeed because they work harder at home and at work.”

Indian banker Veena Mankar discusses women in leadership with Foster students
Indian banker Veena Mankar discusses women in leadership with Foster students

We also visited with one of ICICI’s prominent alums, Veena Mankar. Veena founded Swahaar (“self-support” in Hindi), a bank and finance organization dedicated to making tiny loans to Mumbai’s urban poor—especially women—and teaching them how to manage money.

Inspired by the plight of her own household help, Veena is determined to make a difference in the lives of poor women. The challenge, she says, is to change their mindsets, to convince them they are as deserving as men and that their daughters as well as sons should be educated. Once they realize this, their girls often go to college, marry later, delay childbearing and have healthier children, thus ensuring a better life for future generations and the community.

This is where it comes full circle. Highly-educated and affluent women in banking use their success to change the context for women at other levels of society. “It’s not just about giving a woman a loan. It’s about giving her a place in society and her family,” explains Veena.

For background and a comparison of women in American vs. Indian banking industry, I recommend these New York Times articles: Female Bankers in India Earn Chances to Rule and Where Are the Women on Wall Street?

Cate Goethals, University of Washington Foster School of Business lecturer and Seattle consultant, leads global business seminars and study trips focused on women and international business. She has taught at the UW Foster School for more than 20 years—including a class called “Women at the Top” that was named one of the 10 most innovative MBA classes in the country by Forbes in 2010.

Bonds of steel: Three generations make KISWIRE an industry leader

Photo (left to right): Young-Chul Hong (chairman), Suk-Cheon Hong (founder and honorary chairman), Scott Hong (MBA 2008 and production manager).

There is a certain industrial artistry in both process and product.

Calliope strains of a Beethoven arpeggio flutter among the clamor of hard-working machinery that reverberates across an immaculate KISWIRE factory floor. Raw carbon steel from colossal spools laces through a gauntlet of precision devices. It is scoured of rust and bathed in acid, lubricated, galvanized, super-heated and drawn through dies of narrowing diameter. And at the end of this elaborate metallic pasta maker emerges a pristine strand of gleaming steel wire.

Elegant, yes. But also essential.

High-carbon steel wire is an indispensible ingredient of civilization. And the kind produced by Korea-based KISWIRE is the best in the business. From filaments finer than a human hair to braided wire rope as thick as an elephant’s trunk, KISWIRE—quietly, reliably—supports bridges, buildings and stadiums, hoists elevators, cranes and oil rigs, reinforces radial tires and high-pressure hoses, transports electricity and telecommunications, fabricates semiconductors, facilitates renewable energy, even gives a piano its dulcet voice.

It also inhabits Scott Hong’s (MBA 2008) past, present and future.

After earning his MBA at the University of Washington Foster School of Business, Scott joined the company founded by his grandfather, and currently led by his father. As production manager of KISWIRE’s Korean operations, Scott is learning the ropes from both elders in preparation to someday take the helm. For the first time, three generations of the Hong family are in business together, a succession of wisdom that has long guided this astonishingly successful company and endowed it with such economic, social and historic significance to the nation it calls home.

“Tradition,” says Scott, “means everything to us.”

Into an Asian tiger
KISWIRE FounderIn 1945, a young man named Suk-Cheon Hong was working as a chandler for a Japanese import company, selling supplies to ships docked in the southeast Korean port city of Busan, when his world turned upside down. As World War II came to an end, the Japanese were evicted from Korea, their colony for decades. And Korea, an agrarian society with little industry of its own, was cast into economic chaos.

Suk-Cheon saw opportunity. He started his own maritime supply business, importing goods from Japan. His trade miraculously eluded the advancing communists during the Korean War. But this period of national upheaval made him consider what his company could do for his country. “After the war I decided that I could make money either importing or exporting,” Hong recalls. “But if I exported, it would lift the Korean economy.”

He identified one of his best-selling products—steel wire—and painstakingly learned how to make it. Taking advantage of post-war foreign aid and scraping together modest financing, Suk-Cheon launched the Korea Iron and Steel Wire Company in 1961. Its initial product was aptly named “Elephant Wire” for its strength and dependability.

From the ground floor of his nation’s late-arriving industrial revolution, Suk-Cheon’s gaze was always upward. By 1971, the newly named KISWIRE hit its production goal of 1,000 metric tons a month.

That same year, Suk-Cheon Hong welcomed his son, Young-Chul Hong, to the company. Young-Chul started out creating standards in the production facility. But he rose quickly, right alongside KISWIRE’s soaring fortunes. Through the next decades, the company steadily opened new factories and diversified its product line as the market warranted. Its sales expanded globally, from Korea to Vietnam, Europe, the United States, Japan and China.

Young-Chul ascended to CEO in 1988 and chairman in 2001, as his father gradually eased out of day-to-day operations and into his eternal role as honorary chairman. Now in his 90s, Suk-Cheon Hong still works every day, keeping a close eye on his legacy.

Today, as Scott Hong is groomed to take the family business into a third generation, KISWIRE has achieved a level of success that the honorary chairman says was inconceivable at its humble founding. Today, KISWIRE produces nearly one million metric tons of steel wire, cord and rope each year, carving a 10 percent market share of the fragmented $20 billion global industry. Its 4,600 employees operate 19 production facilities—each dedicated to a specific product line—in Korea, China, Malaysia and the US. Nearly three-quarters of its sales are overseas.

KISWIRE is everywhere.

A different kind of company
Such dramatic growth doesn’t happen by accident. From the beginning, the Hong family has led KISWIRE by the kind of unwritten code that holds enormous power when it genuinely permeates the culture of a family business on a global scale: hard work, honesty, integrity.

KISWIRE differentThese simple traits have resulted in the highest quality product, continually improving efficiency and innovation, and sterling relationships with employees and customers alike. They have sustained KISWIRE through decades pockmarked by war, dictatorial rule, financial crisis and political turmoil.

According to Scott, his grandfather set a lasting growth strategy of financing expansion with profit rather than debt. KISWIRE has relied on its own research and development to drive product improvements, cut costs and open new product lines. It has innovated opportunity, recently opening a factory catering to homemakers’ schedules, and another run by retirees not ready to hang up their hats.

Along the way, KISWIRE leadership has inspired in its work force a rarity in modern times: loyalty. During several severe economic shocks, the now honorary chairman and current chairman sacrificed corporate profits to protect every last employee’s job.

That loyalty was repaid. In the early 1990s, when a newly democratized Korea roiled with labor unrest after decades of military rule, KISWIRE workers organized, then pledged that they would never strike. That’s a level of camaraderie between administration and rank-and-file that a library of management books could not achieve.

It’s the KISWIRE gift, embedded deep inside the Hong family DNA. And Scott Hong gets it.

The education of Scott Hong
Scott may have KISWIRE steel in his bones, but he also had options. His father was obliged to join the company at the behest of his grandfather, originally working, eating, even sleeping at the company’s Sooyoung plant (in a small attached apartment he fondly recalls as “the bunker”).

But times have changed in Korea. Young-Chul Hong did his best to encourage his son and expose him to the business. But the decision to join KISWIRE was Scott’s alone. He attended a science and technology high school, studied mechanical engineering in college and considered pursuing an academic career.

In the end, he chose tradition. “This business is my foundation,” Scott says. “I planned everything to prepare me to one day lead this company skillfully.”

It started with two years interning at the world’s foremost steel manufacturers, including KISWIRE’s largest provider, POSCO. And, to complete his business education, Scott traveled around the world to study management at the UW Foster School of Business. It was a choice strongly recommended by Dr. Chan-Jin Kim, a prominent attorney and family friend who earned a PhD in law from the UW in 1972, and resoundingly endorsed by both grandfather and father.

“There were gaps in my knowledge,” Scott says. “My Foster MBA gave me skill at strategy, leadership, marketing and finance that I can connect with my prior knowledge of engineering and computer science, and my familiarity with the steel wire industry. Plus, my experience in Seattle helped me to see business from many different perspectives.”

His father believes it did even more: “The difference in Scott since before his Foster MBA is that he knows the world better, he understands better how people are linked with business.”

The Shingo pear doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Innovating tradition
“Steel is steel,” says Young-Chul Hong. “It was invented 3,500 years ago and the demand has grown ever since.”

That doesn’t mean, he adds, that KISWIRE rests on past success in an industry that has been historically stable. Since introducing a dedicated research and development facility—and through less formal means in earlier years—the company has perpetually worked to carve time and cost from the process, and produced cables of ever increasing tensile strength to meet the voracious demand of a rapidly developing world.

“Most of our research has been in efficiency,” says Young-Chul. “Now the existing steel wire and rope market is nearing saturation. So we will need to develop into new areas that will be important in the future.”

KISWIRE Piano WiresAmong the most promising is KISWIRE’s work developing state-of-the-art superconductive wire. It’s a key part of Korea’s contribution to the International Thermal Energy Reactor (ITER). This much-anticipated nuclear fusion device, under construction in France, is attempting to atomically convert materials in sea water into plasma of 100 million degrees Celsius—an “artificial sun” that could finally solve the planet’s renewable energy conundrum. That sun won’t shine if it can’t be contained and harnessed, requiring superconducting coils that can convey a magnetic field of unimaginable strength. KISWIRE is on it, developing steel that isn’t really just steel.

At this chapter in his family’s history, Scott stands prepared for his future. “If I’m going to follow in the footsteps of my grandfather,” he says, laughing, “I’ll have to work another 60 years at least.”

A family affair
Suk-Cheon, Young-Chul and Scott Hong gather at KISWIRE’s Busan office on a sweltering late summer day. Outside, on the site of the relocated Sooyoung factory, construction has begun on the company’s new headquarters, residential education center, and wire museum, all to be powered by three forms of renewable energy. Always looking forward, even in celebrating the past.

As the three men recount stories, consider accomplishments and ponder the future, the family pride is obvious—albeit suppressed by humility. It’s well-earned. Three generations, connected by steel wire and the honest hard work that makes it, have built a company that is the envy of its industry, and an emblem of Korea’s resilient economic growth.

“We don’t necessarily have to be the biggest,” says Chairman Young-Chul Hong. “We want to be the best—most efficient, highest quality product, most satisfied customers, happiest employees. That’s what we’re aiming for.”

“And look to new product lines,” Scott adds, “diversify within our core line of expertise.”

“If we can reach these goals,” says Honorary Chairman Suk-Cheon Hong, “I think we will also become the biggest.”

Like grandfather, like father, like son.

“I’m fully satisfied with the company today, and its growth under my son’s leadership,” concludes the Honorary Chairman. “And I have full faith in this promising young grandson of mine.”

That grandson puts his faith in tradition. “I’m really happy that we’re all in this business together.” Scott says. “It’s tradition. I don’t see it as pressure, but rather a sharing of wisdom that is essential to advancing this company and this family. In a way, I’ve been preparing my whole life for this.”

The art of entrepreneurial decision-making

Emer Dooley“Do I take the job or start my own company?” It’s a tough decision but just the first of many decisions an entrepreneur will make during his or her career. And that’s the point of Emer Dooley‘s Entrepreneurial Decision-Making class: get used to it now because you’re going to spend your career making decisions—often with incomplete information and few data points.

Each week, graduate students hear first-hand from an entrepreneur who is grappling with or has just gone through the decision-making process on an issue from the start-up lifecycle, from generating an idea and writing a business plan to financing, growth, and a successful exit. Small teams of students are responsible for engaging the guest in discussion and digging into the hows and whys of the entrepreneur’s final decision.

Dooley, a lecturer in entrepreneurship at the UW Foster School of Business, has no problem getting leaders from Seattle’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to share their experiences with her class. “We recently had Rich Barton, the founder of Expedia, come in and talk about his latest idea and he asked the students how they would generate viral traffic. Now one of the MBAs is working with him on the project,” she said. “I wanted to make this class interactive and more of a conversation where there’s real feedback about what’s happening. The ownership is on the students to make this a useful part of the class.”

Students also look at a variety of entrepreneurial models during the quarter, everything from franchising, to buying a company, to high-tech start-ups. Dooley tries to balance the types of companies that come into the class. “Right now Web 2.0 is huge in Seattle so we’re spending a little more time on those companies this quarter,” she said.

While helping students develop the tools and network they’ll find most valuable after they leave the university, Dooley also promotes the idea that there is no one set track or right answer for an entrepreneur. “It’s all about figuring out who you are and what makes you tick,” she said. “Some people start their companies right out of school but others may be better off joining a big company for a couple of years. Every entrepreneur is different.”

Figuring out who you are. Put that in the tough decision category.

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