The world of social innovation and the startup accelerator industry has become a thriving ecosystem for fostering creativity and addressing societal challenges through entrepreneurial solutions. This field has seen remarkable growth in recent years, with numerous startups and entrepreneurs aiming to drive positive change and make a lasting impact. One notable figure in this landscape is Jane Lee, CEO of Seed & Partners, who has played a crucial role in nurturing and supporting the growth of early-stage startups. With a background in Industrial Engineering from the Seoul University of Science and Technology, a master's degree in Public Policy focusing on IT Policy, and a doctoral degree from Sungkyunkwan University, Jane Lee brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. In addition to her role as CEO, she also serves as the Chairperson of the Korean Women's Startup Forum and works as an adjunct professor at Hanyang University. Her dedication to guiding and empowering emerging startups has made her a prominent figure in the world of social innovation startup acceleration. Let’s read to know more.
Can you provide a concise summary of your professional journey and what drives your daily activities?
Many people are motivated by the pursuit of personal satisfaction and contributing to societal progress. My primary focus involves supporting and promoting startup businesses through training, mentorship, and strategic investments. Often, the results of these efforts are not directly linked to my own personal gain. As a result, I place great importance on my personal growth in this professional context.
To achieve this, I actively network and engage in ongoing research and learning in relevant fields. I firmly believe that the growth and development of those I work with can only happen when I am committed to continuous self-improvement.
Tell us about your educational journey at Sungkyunkwan University and describe what valuable lessons you gained beyond your studies.
Sungkyunkwan University is an institution with a rich heritage and a commitment to a distinguished educational philosophy. This philosophy is intricately woven into all aspects of university life, encompassing not only the academic curriculum but also extracurricular activities and daily life.
In the academic sphere, the university places a strong emphasis on fostering a dynamic, multidimensional learning experience rather than a one-sided approach. Faculty members are deeply engaged in continuous research, especially in research methodology, which empowers students to participate in meaningful discussions and reflections on the future directions of their respective fields. Moreover, in the realm of campus life, students have the opportunity to collaborate and find motivation through projects and various activities, further enhancing the overall educational experience.
What factors do you consider when formulating effective corporate growth strategies?
The foremost factor I give priority to among the many components that influence business growth is the human element. Achieving business expansion entails a diverse set of roles, ranging from steering the company's growth to fostering the development of one's own enterprise. However, tackling these roles alone can prove exceptionally challenging. Given our company's relatively small scale, we place great emphasis on forming partnerships with other businesses and collaborating with specialized professionals who can complement our efforts.
The second crucial element involves continuous analysis and adaptability to address a variety of requirements. A substantial part of our company's activities revolves around education, covering topics like business models, growth strategies, and investment approaches. Since each business context is distinct, and influenced by economic factors, environmental conditions, and industry-specific characteristics, it necessitates ongoing analysis and the ability to adapt. To meet this challenge, we consistently evaluate the business landscape and offer a diverse range of programs that respond to the evolving needs of businesses.
How do you assemble your team, and what qualifications do you seek when hiring new candidates?
The foremost criteria for recruiting team members are their enthusiasm for the company's mission and their dedication to personal development. While attributes such as an entrepreneurial mindset and leadership skills are highly prized in our line of work, having a genuine passion for the job and a proactive work attitude and mindset are equally crucial. When you're an entrepreneur planning and running a business, having colleagues and staff members with these qualities is pivotal, as they play a vital role in supporting your endeavors. It's crucial to view company responsibilities as more than just routine tasks, as this mindset accelerates progress and enhances work outcomes.
Moreover, the candidates' willingness and eagerness for self-improvement are also of great importance. Company growth doesn't automatically equate to personal growth, which is why we highly value individuals who are committed to their own development while diligently performing their work.
What is your future career direction?
I am dedicated to furthering the development of early-stage companies. Among the various activities essential for business expansion, my goal is to contribute to identifying and structuring such enterprises. To achieve this, I understand the significance of continuous research and analysis of the environment and ecosystem in which these businesses operate.
What are your expectations for the future market?
Korean companies are beginning to experience the effects of challenging economic conditions, with a noticeable decrease in investment capital. In this period, businesses must consistently strive for growth and sustainability.
The startup ecosystem is poised to continue expanding. Companies will persist in their growth, and their business models will undergo changes. To thrive, businesses must remain agile and adapt swiftly to the evolving landscape. As a company's growth is closely intertwined with a nation's progress, it's inevitable that the government's support for businesses will endure and expand.
Jane Lee, CEO, Seednpartners
Jane Lee is a distinguished entrepreneur with a background in Industrial Engineering from the Seoul University of Science and Technology, a master's degree in Public Policy focusing on IT Policy, and a doctoral degree from Sungkyunkwan University.