Millennial sold his first company for six figures at age 21. Here are his tips

When Kevin Kim dropped out of college at 21 to become an entrepreneur, it seemed like a huge gamble.

“My mom cried a little,” laughs Kim, now 33.

But his confidence was not unfounded. Kim had just sold his first company, which he founded when he was only 18, for “six figures”.

It was no small feat, given that his start-up capital was only $2,000, which Kim says he accumulated while working part-time.

His e-commerce company imported streetwear from South Korea and sold it across North America, he told CNBC Make It.

Getting a product to market is really hard, it takes years. You have to ask yourself… Do I really enjoy this industry? Can I imagine myself built around this for 10 years?

Kevin Kim

Co-founder and CEO of Stadium Live

“After I sold my first company, it was an easy decision to make,” said Kim, who emigrated from South Korea to Canada when he was 11 years old.

“I didn’t have a vision or alignment… I was a civil engineering student, but I wanted to create services and products for different audiences.”

Kim then spent nearly 10 years building digital products for other startups and companies before venturing out on his own in 2020 to create Stadium Live, a metaverse for sports fans.

Application allows users to customize their own avatars, purchase digital collectibles, connect with other fans in virtual rooms, participate in interactive sports broadcasts, or play mini-games.

The startup has raised $13 million so far, including Series A funding led by NBA star Kevin Durant 35 Ventures, World Champion Blaise Matuidi Origins Fund and Dapper Labs Ventures.

CNBC Make It finds Kim’s three tips for running a successful company.

1. Founder fit for the market

Entrepreneurs often attribute the success of their startups to finding a product that fits the market.

But even more important to Kim is what he calls “founder-to-market fit.” This means that the founder is really passionate about what he is building.

“Achieving product-to-market fit is really hard, it takes years. You have to ask yourself, do I really enjoy what I do? Do I really like this industry? Can I build around it for 10 years?”

They can do it and make money, but they burn out faster than other founders who fit the market.

Kevin Kim

Co-founder and CEO of Stadium Live

Kim said he knew he had always wanted to create products related to the four areas he is interested in: sports, gaming, music and fashion.

“I know founders who, for example, [launched] startup SAS with accounting, but they didn’t even do accounting,” Kim said.

“They can go into it and make money, but they burn out faster than other founders who fit the market.”

2. Closing the gap

However, according to Kim, product-to-market fit is still critical to business success.

“Without product-to-market fit, you cannot survive as a business because there is no real demand or supply between your product and your audience.”

Meeting the needs of consumers contributed to the success of his companies. In fact, Kim started his first e-commerce business because he wanted to find clothes that fit his “style and size.”

“At the time, I could never do that with brands in the US and Canada,” he said.

“It really started as a personal hobby and need… I quickly realized that other people have the same need.”

Stadium Live is a metaverse app that allows sports fans to customize their own avatars, buy digital collectibles, or play mini-games.

Stadium Live

3. Don’t forget about corporate culture

According to Kim, it’s “absolutely important” to establish a clear vision and set of values ​​for your team.

“Why should talented people join your company and grow with you? The answer to this question can be given not only by the product you create, but also by the company and culture that you create,” he added.

The importance of corporate culture cannot be underestimated, Kim emphasized, if one wants to build a “significant long-term company.”

I saw it first hand when I was the fifth employee and saw how the company grew to 50 people. The culture is transformed every time a company doubles in size.

Kevin Kim

Co-founder and CEO of Stadium Live

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