Green Peppers & Sleek Slides: The Pyongsong Startup Bootcamp

While Pyongyang remains the most glitzy and booming city in North Korea, Pyongsong has emerged as one of the country’s most important trading hubs. It’s also home to a growing community of ambitious entrepreneurs. So when the latest group of CE volunteers arrived in the DPRK earlier this month, there was a sense of excitement — and a room full of North Koreans who were eager to show the progress they had made over the past year, fleshing out business ideas, building prototypes, and bringing products to market.

“Everybody has been very busy”, one of the local participants told us. For months, North Koreans who had joined CE’s overseas programs in Singapore had been coaching and mentoring their colleagues, teaching them how to develop product ideas, gather feedback from prospective customers, refine business models, prepare financial projections, and create marketing strategies. The results were impressive: Participants pitched their products with sleek slides and catchy slogans, ambitious revenue projections, detailed thoughts on customer segments, and a clear perspective on ROI. We were amazed!

"Green peppers in winter is no longer a dream!!!" 
Frontier entrepreneur in Pyongsong

Products ranged from vacuum-sealed green peppers that can be consumed during winter months, and natural cosmetics, to a shared calendar app for mobile phones, and a surge protector for electric motors that is able to deal with North Korea’s volatile voltage. “Green peppers in winter is no longer a dream!!!”, one slide read, followed by a detailed comparison of competing options — which, naturally, were not competitive at all, according to the confident inventors. What else these frontier entrepreneurs came up with over the course of this Pyongsong Startup Bootcamp? Stay tuned for the next blog post.