hola olaworks

one of the cool companies i previewed in the latest episode of the gigaom show is olaworks, a facial recognition software company based in seoul, korea.  i stopped by their office while i was in seoul and saw a demo, played with a mobile phone that had their software and talked shop with the team.

founded by a very bright engineer from KAIST, junghee ryu, the team has been together since 2006. they have spent the past two years building a kick ass product that works better than anything i saw at techcrunch 40.  yet, since they are so far from silicon valley, no one is familiar with them. names like riya and viewdle are more common place, but i do think the guys at olaworks have an edge on our SV natives in terms of tech, though they may be lacking in terms of business development.

this raises the question – how should overseas start-ups go about getting a foothold in the US market? do you go for the US bloggers first? try to partner with a good strategic US partner? open an office? hire white guys? or gals? the options are many, but any decision must obviously be influenced by the product, target consumer, natural viral strengths or disadvantages of the product, the team…  however, i do think it is important to get people on the ground in the market you want to conquer, especially when you need to win over the tech folks.  the speed of development and business and the vocabulary changes fast here.  and it is very easy to fall behind.

well, with news that competitor viewdle announced a new round of funding today, i hope olaworks makes their grand entrance into the international stage sooner rather than later!

olaworks
olaworks motto

4 thoughts on “hola olaworks

  1. WoW! Admittedly I don’t know you except as a loyal fan of the gigaom show. I stumbled upon the show and was taken by the content format, your intelligence and beauty. I’m pretty sure it was not your intent but your comments, in my opinion, are pretty racist. I consider myself an open minded individual but could not convince myself of any rational reason why you imply that unless you are “white” there’s little chance of having a successful startup in the technology industry.

  2. hi bobby – thanks for stopping by to read my blog:) actually, the point of my post was to talk about localization issues and challenges that startups have when launching products in foreign countries and the advice that is typically given to these start-ups when moving to a foreign market. its an issue that all companies looking to launch products in other countries face – take for example mcdonalds in india (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/04/02/asia_letter/main2640540.shtml) that found a joint venture partner and fundamentally altered their main product offering for the target market!

    for tech startups, the challenges are unique in that your product can technically be reached by anyone in the world with an internet connection. however, this makes the localization problem much more nuanced.

    i do not think the racial background of a founder has any correlation to chance of success. but companies trying to be multinational (regardless of whether it is cross-racial boundaries or not) do face special challenges, which often include language and perhaps even factors such as race, religion and national customs. to ignore these factors when growing a company across international boundaries is a major mistake.

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