Building the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
Innovation may be a buzz word, but that doesn’t mean it is a fleeting fad. To help South Korea develop its capacity for innovation, a design team from SAP’s AppHaus Korea aimed to set a precedent for tech education and the start-up ecosystem in the country.
The program, which stemmed from conversations between Christopher Han, Vice President at SAP Design & Co-Innovation Center (DCC) Asia, and Sujeong Kim, of the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP), aligned with the Korean government’s “Creative Economy” intiative: a campaign intended to transform the country’s economy from one that is manufacturing-based to one that is service-based.
The two partners agreed that while young entrepreneurs in Korea are cultivating great ideas, they–and the country–could benefit greatly from mastering the art of design-thinking.
Embodying the Mindsets and Skill Sets
In partnership with the MSIP, National IT Industry Promotion Agency, Korea Regional Software Industry Promotion Council and SAP team formed the Fellowship as a software based, start-up education program that would teach ambitious young entrepreneurs what it takes to thrive.
The three-stage selection process began where 20 candidates were selected from diverse backgrounds to participate in the nine-week program. The 20 fellows of five teams comprised of project manager, programmer, designer and analyst then collaborated to create business pitches, meant to be the culmination of the fellowship, and potentially even truly marketable designs.
To broaden the students’ perspectives and experience what it is like to work in the world’s innovation Mecca, the fellows spent two weeks visiting SAP’s AppHaus Palo Alto in Silicon Valley and participating in co-working sessions at Facebook, Stanford University and SAP Design America. Next, the fellows travelled to Germany and spent a week visiting SAP’s other AppHaus co-innovation spaces in Heidelberg and Berlin, shadowing mentors and even observing a business meeting with Daimler, an SAP client.
During the program of 40 hours of design thinking education, 160 hours of project creation and 20 hours of co-working sessions with international industry leaders like Sam Yen, Andrea Hauser and Head of Product Design, Enterprise Products at Facebook, Siva Sabretnam, each fellow had full access to resources like independent office space, in-house expert mentorship and extended networks across the globe.
Fast Failing after Rapid Learning
A series of real-life problem-solving exercises and feedback sessions allowed for more natural exchanges of idea across departments and the globe. Starting from Seoul, Palo Alto, Heidelberg to Berlin, the fellows not only familiarized themselves with the working cultures of industry-leading spaces like Facebook, Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford, commonly known as the d.school and SAP Data Space, but personally interacted with the global SAP designers and other professionals to help develop their ideas into feasible products.
After returning to Seoul, the fellows prepared a final business pitching presentation for invited guests. Ranging from $200 to $1,000, total of $2,000 was given to a few outstanding fellows who have performed above expectations. Of the five business ideas, “Dogeeks” team, which developed an idea for a dog adoption service, will register the business in early 2017. Team “82,” an add-on for online shopping experience has begun its development phase. With 185% rise on self-evaluation on innovation capability index, the fellows came away better understanding how to develop ideas and what it takes to succeed—lessons that will pay dividends to the Korean government moving forward.