Small Business Interview: Brandon Walcutt, Kohsi Design Centre
I first met Mr. Walcutt (right), as a presenter at Seoul Global Center. He presented
“Business Plan Writing and Presenting” as part of the business class I attended in South Korea.
He lived in South Korea for more than 16 years and now resides in New York, NY. Previously, he was a co-owner of a publishing company, and more recently VP, of Marketing in North America for Kohsi Design Centre.
I want to share with everyone the lessons he has learned so far, and give a little more insight on what it means to open a business in South Korea. Recently, I spoke to Mr. Walcutt and here is an edited recap of our conversation.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and your background? (Biography provided by Mr. Walcutt)
Brandon Walcutt is a veteran professor, entrepreneur, public speaker and consultant. He has a degree in international business and an MBA and is currently a business/economics professor at SUNY college.
In the last 25 years, Brandon has started and managed textile, consulting, financial services and training companies in the US, Russia, and Korea. He has consulted at top organizations such as Boeing, First Union National Bank (former 5th largest bank in the US) and Airborne Express. He is also a regular speaker at venues such as the Seoul Global Center and Arirang and has published several books and articles in world-class journals.
Can you tell me about your business?
Previously, I opened a small business publishing company in South Korea with two other college professors. Professors in South Korea are required to annually publish their work in an academic journal.
An academic journal is defined as: “Scholarly or peer-reviewed journal articles are written by scholars or professionals who are experts in their fields. In the sciences and social sciences, they often publish research results.” Research & Learning Services Olin Library Cornell University Library Ithaca, NY, USA. (2018, April 14). Distinguishing Scholarly from Non-Scholarly Periodicals: A Checklist of Criteria: Introduction and Definitions. Retrieved from: http://guides.library.cornell.edu/c.php?g=31867&p=201758
Seeing the need for other foreign professors, and with hopes of receiving international submissions, Mr. Walcutt and his business partners decided to open a publishing company. However, at the time of opening several competitors opened their business as well and the publishing company eventually closed due to an overcrowded market.
Recently, he has begun work at Kohsi Design Centre. Kohsi is a luxury handmade bronze tableware created in a traditional Korean kennel. To view how the artisan bronze ware is made check out Kohsi YouTube video Amazing Way To Make A Luxury Tableware
How long have you been in business?
The business has been operating for one year and has plans to attend the biggest trade show later this year in New York, NY.
What service (s) and or products) do you manufacture?
Kohsi describes their products: “At Kohsi Design we create modern, relevant, ergonomic pieces of artistic merit which draw on the inspiration of our gifted Artisans today as well as the traditions of craftsmanship from a bygone age.”
What makes the business unique?
The business is unique because it’s created in a modern style with traditional craftsmanship.
Who is your target audience?
The target audience is for admirers who enjoy luxury fine dining with family and friends. According to Global Industry Analyst, Inc., the global market for tableware is expected to exceed more than $41 billion dollars (U.S.) by the year 2020. To read the complete article TableWare – A Global Strategic Business Report check out the website www.strategyr.com
Can you share some of the lessons you have learned from opening a business in South Korea?
Be prepared to work hard. It’s hard work if it wasn’t then everyone would be able to open a business and have it succeed. Being an entrepreneur is almost a lifestyle, it’s not a vocation.
The second lesson I learned about opening a business in South Korea is learn everything you can about the business before you open. Whether you write a business plan or it’s unwritten, know where you’re going and what you’re doing. It will save you from wanting to pull out your hair later on.
Where did your company funding/capital come from and how do you go about getting it?
So far, the company is 100% solely funded, however, the plans may change in the future as the business expands.
What business-related book inspired you the most or what is your favorite book?
I would start with the book $100 Dollar Startup and read books that instruct entrepreneurs to start companies with little to no funding.
What advice would you give to individuals who want to open a small business in South Korea?
Learn the word pivot! Be willing to change the fundamentals of what you have planned for your business. Be patient, flexible and ready for a lot of learning. Sometimes you’re going for a win and sometimes not, God willing you will succeed in your future endeavors.
I want to thank Mr. Walcutt for his time and insightful thoughts on opening a small business in South Korea.
If you want to read more stories about small business owners in South Korea check out the recent blog post Small Business Owner Interview: Eric Michel, Anarchy Prints. Additionally, I’ve compiled a resourceful article on the Path To Obtaining A Startup Visa In South Korea.
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