Guillaume Parvaix is no stranger to living abroad. Born in Limoges, France, he stayed in his hometown for university and a master’s degree in history. However, Guillaume often found himself traveling to the United States and Scotland to study. In the pursuit of further knowledge, he went on to work towards another master’s, bringing him to the States once again and eventually to Korea, where he is now a full-time associate at G3 Partners. In this Meet Your G3 Partner, Guillaume talks coming to Korea, startups, and pursuing what you want to do.
Why did you choose to come to Korea?
It was kind of unintentional, to be honest. The second year of my second master’s we had to select a different country to study abroad in. Never having been to Asia, I was initially set on going to Taiwan, but turned in the paperwork too late. So, I ended up going to Korea.
What were your perceptions of the country beforehand?
Before coming here, I really didn’t know much about Korea. I knew a bit about Japanese culture, and was imagining Korea as a mix between Japan and China. I didn’t really have many expectations, though. Korea wasn’t a big shock at first, because I was in a “safe environment” with other foreigners in university exchange program. The big shock came when I started working here– I realized that the environment was very different from what I was used to, and I struggled a bit adjusting in the beginning.
So what was your first job in Korea?
It was in a startup. In the beginning, they wanted to create a marketplace platform bringing different products from different countries together. The company later began jumping from project to project. All the projects were carried out and everyone was working hard, but it was never a real success. I spent one year there and was learning a lot, but I realized I wasn’t passionate about what I was doing towards the end. I was basically going to work to watch YouTube videos.
How did you come to work for G3 afterwards?
Even before I left my job, I was already following G3 Partners and the CEO, Nathan, who has a similar educational background to me. I sent my resume in, and a few weeks later, I was starting work.
What’s a memorable piece of advice you’ve heard?
Something I’ve heard from an advisor that I try to live by is, “If you don’t like what you’re doing, go. Do something else. Don’t wake up when you’re 45, thinking ‘I don’t like what I’m doing.'”
Right now, I really like G3. I’m happy here and wouldn’t imagine leaving G3 for something else. If I haven’t found this company, I would have left Korea. It’s a big world with big opportunities. You can work in Europe, the US, or wherever you want to go.
What’s your favorite part of your job now?
Sometimes, I’m tasked with making websites for clients. Creating something is always fun, and I get to sit down and create on my own, which is nice. What I truly prefer, though, is meeting face to face with a startup, talking to them about their problems and challenges, and helping them. I’ve done it a little bit and hope to do more soon.
What draws you to startups?
In the beginning, nothing, really. I found the job at the previous company, which just happened to be a startup. Now, however, I love when people have a great idea and gather interesting people around them to create something out of nothing. I think the concept of bringing people together to create something is awesome.
It’s exactly the same concept with G3. We are a startup too. Nathan was able to bring Erik on board and grow the company, bringing in others soon after.
Have you found that the founders of startups share a certain common trait or characteristic?
People who found startups are all different and come from a variety of different backgrounds, but what I’ve seen is that they all have this sort of drive and don’t give up easily. If they fail at some point, they’ll keep pushing. If you kick them out through a door, they’ll come back in through a window. You don’t have to be a genius or have a Ph.D. in this or that. If you have a great idea and push it, I believe you can do it.
For example, the CEO of Viva Republica said they just tried and tried for years, and at some point it worked. They have their idea and vision and don’t give up.
What’s a common reason for failure you’ve seen in startups?
I think the main thing I’ve seen is startups trying to scale too fast. When many startups see a little bit of success or investment, they try to develop way too fast, trying to expand into the US or different markets– all of this in a year or so. Another thing is they lose sight of their business goals because they start concentrating too much on securing investment. Sometimes you wonder about the core goal of the company; is it to create something cool and solve a problem, or to get investments?
And finally, what do you like to do in your downtime?
We work a lot at G3, so I like to take it easy outside of work. I’m very curious, so I enjoy reading about different subjects like history, politics, geography or science. Otherwise, I like to go to the gym, try all sorts of good food, drink beer, and watch rugby.