Born in Korea and graduated from KAIST, a well-known engineering college in Korea, JimmyRim is the CEO of K Cube Ventures, an early stage fund founded in April 2012. At 32, Jimmy is perhaps the youngest CEO at a venture capital firm in Korea.
He first started working at NHN in 2003, seeing the company grow from 800 to 2500 people by 2005. To gain more experience, Jimmy joined Boston Consulting Group for a year from 2005 to 2006. Following that, he had a five-year stint at Softbank Ventures where Jimmy made a name for himself in Korea venture capital world. At Softbank Ventures, Jimmy made around 15 investments that resulted in three IPOs, one M&A, and some companies raising funds with much higher valuations. One of the 15 companies he picked is SundayToz, the maker of Anipang, a mobile game that was hugely popular in Korea.
Perhaps the deal that got Jimmy connected with Kakao and eventual tech luminary Brian Kim was Lotiple. Lotiple (made up of the words: location, time, and people) was a startup that did real-time coupon service and Jimmy invested $1 million even before the product was out in the market. He told me:
They are like the best engineers in Korea, top tier talents, seven of them from KAIST. Three of them competed at ACM-ICPC, a global competition for hackers, they went there and became the finalists. […] I invested right after they incorporated the company.
Lotiple was founded in 2011 May and by 2011 October, Kakao bought the company, not for the service but for the talents. Brian was surprised to learn that Jimmy invested in a company that didn’t even have a product ready. For Jimmy, it was simple: he invests in people, the team. He shared:
Team is my first priority. A lot of people say that team is first but there aren’t a lot of people doing that. […] The conventional investors invest after the product launches and see the data and even ask for revenue and business model.
Brian was impressed, set up a new $10 million venture capital fund, pulled Jimmy over and made him the CEO of K Cube Ventures. Jimmy said:
How could I imagine anyone would make me the CEO of a venture capital? Even though I have a good track record I was relatively new with five to six years of experience. Brian Kim is unique too, how could he bet on me?
But it happened, which makes Jimmy the youngest CEO running a VC firm in Korea. K Cube Ventures now follows Jimmy’s invest-in-people philosophy. Having invested in 12 companies in ten months, nine companies were invested even before they had a product. It was the team that Jimmy is looking out for. Jimmy also says that K Cube Ventures’ portfolio companies bond together like a family. Every month, the companies will gather in one place to share knowledge, network, and test each other’s services.
It’s a huge value. Because each of the portfolio companies has different expertise to share. They feel bonded as a community and we don’t invest in competing services.
In general, Jimmy is positive about Korea’s tech scene. Back in 2007, he said that big companies like NHN and Daum wouldn’t even want to meet or get involved with startups. But in last couple of years, the momentum has changed and it is looking positive as more exits start to happen in Korea.