Why Gangnam Style is the Best Startup Story Ever

It’s really rare that we see a phenomenon like Gangnam Style taking the world by storm. An overnight media sensation that by conventional standards had such overwhelming odds against him, it’s difficult to see how this instantaneous, nearly fanatical fame actually occurred.  Truth be told this should (and probably will) become a Harvard Business Review case study, but until then here’s why Gangnam Style is the best startup story ever.

The Ultimate Underdog

For anyone who knows anything about KPop, Psy (THE singer of Gangnam Style…FYI…his name is NOT Gangnam Style….) is the anti-kpop.  Lacking the finesse, youth and a certain girlish charm (that both male and female kpop stars seem to repute) Psy can be used as exactly what Korean media often sought to remove, the realism of an artist in his middle age.  Many people have heard of Big Bang, Wonder Girls, Girls Generation and so many countless others, but a solo, slightly rotund, rapping father is probably the underdog of underdogs in Korean media and yet look at him now!


If You Want Something Done

Do it yourself as they always say. Psy made the music video that carved out a special place in nearly 1 out of every 25 people on this planet.  If he had trusted the expertise and auspices of very expensive and trained individuals he would most likely still be a Korean celebrity, self locked in the silent walls of the tiger peninsula.

Outsourcing and delegation is obviously a great talent for startup founders, but you have to get your hands dirty.  There’s only so much that you can relay in regards to your vision and often times it’s much faster and obviously better for founders to take matters into their own hands and get-er-dun.


 The Definition of Disruptive

This music video, the lyrics, and the star himself, were all elements that basically define disruptive.  Psy disrupted the Korean music scene with this type of video.  It was as if the song and dance were too disruptive to stay within the confines of Korean media and had to explode onto the global stage, rampaging through households faster than the bubonic plague.  The most disruptive thing above all? 95% of people who listen to the song have NO IDEA WHAT HE’S SAYING.  Disruptive.

For any startup company and founder to be wildly successful, you have to be disruptive.  The bedtime stories of tech giants and moguls didn’t come from doing that someone else did or by following the rules everyone else was supposed to follow.  The great ones have their own set of rules and their own calling.


Future Success Depends on Key Moves Now

As with many other successful startups, often times the claim to fame and riches is a very quick one, but often unsustainable without very quick reaction times and responsible moves to ensure the longevity of that success.  Psy has made friends and rubbed shoulders with the who’s who of the music world, formed partnerships and is looking into the future.  Every startup business should take success as a step in the right direction and always be planning for the next move.


And now for your viewing pleasure!


By Sang Lee


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Sang H. Lee
Sang is the founder and CEO of Return on Change. He's constantly searching to help startups that are looking to change the world! He's a leader in equity crowdfunding and is always happy to help entrepreneurs and startups. He previously worked as an investment banker in the energy field at WestLB and BNP Paribas, accruing a wealth of expertise in financial regulation, business, and financial structuring. Sang is also the Executive Director of CF50, a global think tank of thought leaders within the crowdfunding industry. You can find him on Google+ and Twitter.
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