Before Samsung Electronics there was merely Samsung Sanghoe: a small trading company founded by Lee Byung-chull in 1938 that dealt mostly in dried seafood, produce, and its own noodles. Its bread and butter, so to speak, was shipping those comestibles all around Southeast Asia. Business was good, and Lee went on to open Samsung Mulsan (now known as Samsung Corporation) in 1948, but that prosperity was ultimately short-lived. After diligently growing Samsung Mulsan, Lee was forced to abandon his holdings in Seoul when the city was invaded and occupied by the republic’s communist neighbors to the north.
He nearly lost everything.
Samsung’s story almost ended there, but Lee made his way south to Pusan to recoup from his losses and bring Samsung Mulsan back from the brink of death. The war economy treated the fledgling trading corporation well, and within a few years Lee was able to parlay the proceeds into a handful of prominent subsidiaries.
This paragraph was in a TechCrunch article on how Samsung got big, and as I read it, one line jumped out at me: “recoup from his losses and bring Samsung Mulsan back from the brink of death.”
It’s a simple line. 14 words. I see lines like it in many of the stories I read on the entrepreneurs that have gone before me to the kind of success I know will be mine. Donald Trump has filed for bankruptcy 4 times, and bounced back.
As an entrepreneur that has had some my fair share failures in the past 7 years, and someone working on two start-ups, whenever I read lines like the one above, I feel cheated. What do you mean “He lost nearly everything but was able to bring Samsung Mulsan back from the brink of death”? What did he do? Did he get a job and run Samsung on the side? Did he raise additional capital from friends? How long did it take? Did he move in with his sister/mother/uncle during that time? What did he do exactly, yo? What? Tell me, damnit!!
Entrepreneurship isn’t an easy path, and more often than not, it’s a lonely one. It’s always great to know that someone went through what I am, but even more useful is HOW he got out of the low point.