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.
When I first started Amasia, I prayed hard that God would grow our firm to become a great success. I told him that I’d go anywhere, meet anyone, do anything… whatever it took I’d do it. But instead of giving me a tactic or a strategy, he gave me a picture.
In my mind’s eye I saw my oldest son Kyan come to me with a startup idea. He pitched it to me and asked me to bless his business through an investment, by opening up my rolodex and promoting his solution to potential partners. Then God asked me “under what circumstances would you want to bless your son’s startup?”
The first thought that entered my head is that because he’s my son, of course I’d want Kyan to be successful. I want him to have every opportunity the world can afford him, for him to experience every joy and victory available because that’s what dads do. Fathers love their sons.
But then the mental video continued, and I saw two scenarios, one where Kyan energetically asked for that blessing “because I’m going to buy a company Ferrari, and when we blow up and make billions I’ll be the man, and all the girls will be after me. It’s going to be awesome! Apa, I know what I’m doing. I just need that initial investment and I can run with this and make it huge!”
Then in another scenario he implored “I’ll be careful with the resources and the credibility that you lend me with your name, and when we’re successful I want to use those compounded resources to give back and make the world a better place. Also, most importantly Apa, I know I can’t do this alone, so while I’m asking for your blessing now, I know this is really just the beginning of a journey together. I’m going to come back to you every day for advice about how to run this company, because I really value our relationship and your wisdom.”
Now in the first scenario I realized I’d still want my son to be blessed, but I’d be worried about dropping a big check into his company because it’d actually really hurt him in the long term. I’d probably drip feed the investment to make sure he spent each cent wisely, and hopefully he would learn the lessons of humility and proper prioritization along the way.
But in the second scenario, I would not only want my son to be blessed, I’d feel totally confident about writing a big check and pulling every resource in my capacity behind him to make him successful because his character was mature enough for his calling.
I felt God trying to impress upon me that as a father, of course he wants my business to be successful. And as an all-powerful being, he has the means to bring about incredible outcomes in the snap of a finger. But often I’ve found that the first order concern is not what he can do through me, but what he can do in me.
Romans 12:2 says “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” In our work and relationships, we often seek external change in our circumstances, but that must first start with transformation within. When we gain the humility, selflessness and love that come from an intimate walk with God, the worldly outcomes naturally follow as an outflow.
PS: Since those early days my two older boys Kyan (7) and Luke (5) have started their first company with K-Pop producer extraordinaire Elmo of Double Dragon fame. Please check out Sonically(which is also the music curriculum for my wife’s startup Trehaus). Thankfully the boys aren’t talking about a company Ferrari… yet.
This was originally published on www.faithdrivenentrepreneur.org/blog/2018/8/6/please-bless-my-business-company-ferraris-and-god-in-your-startup