Teen South Korean CEO once bullied in school set to make over $1 million in sales this year

Sukone Kim is a 17 year-old CEO

Meet Sukone Hong, a 17-year-old CEO from South Korea who runs two businesses and has made over $1 million in sales from his fashion brand this year.

His brand: According to a CNBC Make It profile, Hong, who had a hard time fitting in at his school due to bullying, started his first venture reselling brand name clothes on Naver, a popular search engine in South Korea, on a $150 budget.

  • The business, which he started when he was in eighth grade, was unfortunately not a success. Hong then launched his first clothing site called Olaga Studios (“olaga” being the Korean word for “going up”) using help from a printing business and the $5,000 his grandparents loaned him.
  • The company, which offers unisex casual wear with simple, playful designs, made $1.2 million in annual sales from six Asian markets this year. It was also reportedly ranked No. 1 in Style Share’s T-shirt category.
  • Nothing happened for like a week,” Hong told Make It. “Then, on Monday morning, there was like 15 orders. Fifty at lunch. Eighty by evening. That week, I sold 300 shirts.”
  • Using the money, Hong managed to hire 12 people onto his team and pay his parents back for school fees. However, his venture into the business world continued after he relocated to Seoul to study at an American international school.
  • Before, I thought business was just about making lots of money. But after moving school, I had some good education.” Hong explained. “My teacher said that my experience could be used to create a business to help others.”

Second venture: Inspired by the encouraging words from Hong’s teacher and his experience working with people with disabilities, Hong decided to launch a second company called Paradox Computer.

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  • I had a dream of making a braille device that has an affordable price for any visually impaired people in the world,” Hong said in Paradox Computer’s about page. “By working with more than 80 visually impaired people for a year, I learned that technology can sometimes be fearful for visually impaired people. I want to change their prejudice.”
  • The company manufactures cheap braille devices that could potentially help those living in low-income households. Paradox Computer will launch its braille smartwatch with an $80 price point, while the cheapest available option on the market is currently $300.

  • Our first patent was made for Vibrating Braille Technology, which transforms vibration haptic into braille language,” Paradox Computer explained. “Users can notify time and date just by putting two fingers on the top of the watch for 4 seconds.”
  • Hong has found new success in his second venture. Paradox Computer has reportedly sold hundreds of the braille smartwatches, and a bulk pre-order for 3,000 from China is now in the works.

Featured Image via Sukone Kim

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