Skillshare student John Kim has spent more than a decade in business, working in operating and investing environments that have ranged from early-stage startups to Fortune 500 companies. Now, he’s trying an entirely new arena on for size: YouTube. In addition to continuing to serve as the Partner and Founder of Amasia, a global venture capital firm, John has begun his own YouTube channel, The John Kim Show, to help people in venture capital — and outside of it — have fresh conversations about his historically opaque industry. We chatted with John about his journey from venture capital to vlogging and how he’s used Skillshare to help him grow his new side project.
Hi John! Thanks for chatting with us, and congrats on launching your newest episode! You were a venture capitalist for years before you decided to take on this new YouTube project. Why vlog now?
I want my channel is to make the world of venture capital and entrepreneurship fun and accessible. As more of the world’s workforce moves toward shared and gig-economy work, understanding how to work for yourself, how to start companies, and how to get financing are only going to get more important with time.
The subjects can be overwhelming at first, but even my seven year old understands the basics of venture capital now that we’ve created our first episode. This whole experience with YouTube has shown me that if I present the basics of venture capitalism in an interesting and entertaining way, anyone can pick them up.
Who do you want to help with your new channel? Is there an audience you have in mind when you are creating your videos?
I'd like to reach people who are interested in venture capitalism and entrepreneurship -- people who might be familiar with the basic concepts but want to watch something fresh, with a new perspective. I’d love to use the channel to start some new conversations within the community.
Of course, I’d also like to reach people who are curious about venture capitalism but might not go so far as to pick up a book about it. As I said, it’s becoming more and more important to understand these ideas as our economy changes -- hopefully I can draw people into the fold and make a positive impact on their lives.
Are there other venture capitalists who you look to for inspiration?
When blogging started becoming popular, Fred Wilson and Brad Feld used it to bring transparency to what was, at one time, a generally opaque industry, They became hugely successful -- their personal brands became important and led to a higher-quality deal flow. More recently, people like Harry Stebbings have used audio-focused formats to build a following, but there still seems to be a real gap in purposefully-made vlog content for the venture capitalist community. I look to developers and data scientists who have created large followings with niche interests in a short time, and I think the same could be possible for venture capitalists, too.
If I can grow this channel, it will mean a better deal flow and greater partnerships for my portfolio companies -- but I should mention that the personal benefits are as important as the professional ones. I used to play music professionally, and when I got into investing and trading, I felt like that my more creative side didn't have much of an outlet. The vlog has been a great way for me to scratch that itch, and for my family to work on, too. This is an activity that every member of my family can help create and enjoy. It brings us together (even our 2 year old!).
You’ve been a Skillshare student for some time. Have you used the platform to help you launch this new channel?
I've been a Skillshare student for about four years. My college classmate, Mo Koyfman invested in the company and shared it with me, and I loved it so much that I ended up investing too! It's been amazing to help me learn so many different things. One of the first classes I took, Logo Design with Draplin, helped me to design the logo for our VC firm Amasia. I’ve used Skillshare to learn PHP so that I could code a game to help my son learn Chinese, taken productivity classes like Productivity Today: Managing Attention in the Digital Age, and Skillshare’s courses on storytelling, like Storytelling for Leaders, have helped me create a better vlog -- and better investment memos, too!
What was it like to learn how to make a video for YouTube the first time?
It’s been a super fun process, but I must admit that the first time I opened Adobe Premiere I was completely overwhelmed. The Skillshare class that I took on premiere, and later, on Final Cut, which is the program I ended up working with, explained the process simply in a step-by-step way.
You seem like someone who has a lot of interests. Are you using Skillshare to develop any other passions?
Yes so many! I'm working with my kids on a music school business they started, sonical.ly. It's a brick-and-mortar business thus far, but we're moving more into building online tools, basically games, for the school’s students. I don’t know anything about game development, but think that gamification is so important to so much of what we do today in tech, so I took a Skillshare class on Unity. It’s been fun to learn about the kinds of tools that game developers use.
John Kim and his son working on a video project together (Image courtesy of John Kim)
Speaking of your children, your kids feature heavily in your first video on YouTube. Is there anything that you hope they learn from seeing you developing new skills and taking on new projects like this YouTube channel?
I hope they realize that learning is not about memorizing flashcards at school; that learning never stops. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it.