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In 2015, Jae had $10 in his bank account. A struggling student and a firm believer in C's get degrees, he had the choice between buying a Kebab or printing his past papers. He chose the kebab and nearly failed his exams.
5 years later he has used his own money to start Niesh, New Zealand's largest student platform hosting over 60,000 students. Equipping them with discounts, valuable events and jobs.
A man of few words and many beers, Jae is also the co-owner of popular Auckland CBD bar Seoul Night.
Two Critical Skills For Future Business Leaders
Skill 1: Problem Thinking
What Is Your Problem?
Three years ago, Jae attended a start up event and everyone asked him, what is your problem? At the time, he didn't understand why problems were important. Do restaurants solve problems? They just provide great food and that's good enough, a great idea is all you need to start a business.
Boy was he wrong.
Innovation Starts With A Problem
Everyone has great ideas, but if it doesn't solve a BIG problem, it won't grow.
Jae has always been passionate about start ups and researched the BIG DOGS (Uber, Facebook and Airbnb) and realised they all solved HUGE problems. They didn't start with an idea, they started with a customer problem.
- Uber started as a private taxi company, they identified that businessmen who worked in busy cities did not have fast transportation options.
- Facebook began because Harvard students could not connect outside of class.
- Airbnb launched during the financial crisis of 2008 when people needed cheaper accomodation options than hotels.
After 5 years of growing Niesh, Jae has used student problems to make BIG pivots in the business. From free printing to solve high printing costs at University, to a discount app that solved a growing living cost in Auckland.
Jae figured out "the more relatable your problem is, the bigger your business will be."
Expanding & Growing Businesses Through Problems
Jae described start ups as a organisation of problem solvers. That's how all the big companies grew into the giants they are today. He goes into depth on how you can use 'problem thinking' to nail your career.
1) Pitch In Problems
If you want to do a business pitch or present an idea to your boss, you should always pitch in problems. "Find your drivers" as Jae would say.
Jae ALWAYS writes down the problems that customers have, he then pitches these problems to the customer. If the customer agreed with the problems, he has found his first customer. Pitching ideas is not necessary.
2) Find Product Market Fit (PMF)
Achieving PMF is an entrepreneurs dream, it gives you the ability to expand and grow into your market.
PMF happens when you've developed a product after you've spent 90% of your time researching the nitty gritty details of your customers problems. If you find PMF, you will have demand and your next problem is how to maintain and gain investment.
At work, you should think PROBLEM FIRST, this will allow you to grow into leadership positions and provide you the edge over other employees.
Skill 2: Make Better Decisions
Everyday you constantly make decisions, even when you're driving and judging the distance between you and the car in-front.
But how do you make a better decision?
1) Process Over Solution
At Niesh, Jae will always ask himself "how should I make a good decision?" This is very different to "what is a good decision?"
Jae believes that trusting the process will increase your chances of creating a better solution. What is the right process?
2) Goal -> Problem -> Goal -> Solution
- Ask yourself, what is your goal for your business or job in 6-12 months?
- Once you've identified the goal, list the problems or barriers that you'll face to reach your goal.
- Go back to your goal and think about your solutions to your problems in step 2.
- Choose the BEST solution that will allow you to reach the goal the FASTEST.
These two steps will help you make better decisions in your career or start up. Why settle for good decision making when you can make BETTER DECISIONS?
Complimentary Reading Suggestion from Jae Yoo
Lunch with an Entrepreneur aims to teach students valuable soft skills. By bringing talented students and entrepreneurs into ONE room, we will help students reach their potential as a future leader.
The ON: Entrepreneurship Series is proudly brought to you by Niesh & Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development.