Sam is the owner of Victoria Korean Education Center (維多莉亞韓語文教育中心), one of the largest Korean language centers in Taiwan. Sam opened the Center in 2005. The Center employs Korean teachers – professional Korean teachers or Koreans who have graduated with high degrees from Taiwanese universities – and offers small or 1:1 Korean classes. The Center also has an online book store, a Korean language learning material publishing arm, and offers services for Taiwanese students looking to study in Korea.
From a working class Hong Kong family, Sam came to Taiwan on a university scholarship. In 2003, upon shortly after graduating from university, he decided to become an entrepreneur. He began by tutoring Cantonese in coffee shops. Later, he saw an opening in the Korean language sector, and decided to open the Center, even though he couldn’t speak Korean! At the time, there was less competition in the Korean language sector, and Sam was able to gain a foothold in the market. Nowadays, Sam’s primary advertising routes are through purchasing advertising on Yahoo (the most popular search engine in Taiwan), buses, newspapers and magazines, and through word-of-mouth.
Sam also has a strong social conscience. From humble beginnings, Sam is aware of the difficulties that people from low socio-economic backgrounds face. He donates books and stationary to various charitable organizations, and has founded a not-for-profit South-East Asian language center 五語+N學堂 that offers free language / culture classes in Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian, Tagalog, Burmese, Malaysian, and Cambodian. He also supports Chinese literary magazines, being a Chinese literature and history buff.
What is one piece of advice you would give foreigners wanting to start a business in Taiwan?
“Respect the culture and make the most of your skills. My key skill was language.”
What opportunities do you see for business in Taiwan?
“Taiwan is not as international as Hong Kong. There are many opportunities – and people are willing to spend money – on something international.”
What are some of the cultural differences between doing business in Hong Kong and Taiwan?
“In Hong Kong, it is all about rules and regulations. In Taiwan, it is less about rules and regulations, and more about human relationships (人情). For instance, in Hong Kong, if the contract stipulates that you can’t get a refund, then you won’t get a refund. In Taiwan, not everything is done in accordance with the written word.”
To learn more about Victoria Korean Education Center (維多莉亞韓語文教育中心), please visit http://www.vtk.com.tw
To learn more about Sam’s South-East Asian language center 五語+N學堂, please visit http://www.hk97.tw