How to Start a Business

Startup Wisdom: How a Korean Startup Founder Hired Bangladeshi Employees Remotely

Dongsub Lukas Shin
January 26, 2024

1. English phobia of an asian startup founder

Living in Gyeonggi Province, I'm here in South Korea for over 20 years, received a typical Korean education, especially a typical Korean English education. It's no a problem to read, but when a foreigner speaks in rapid fire, I start to sweat and smile regardless of whether I understand or not.

There were many obstacles to starting an app-outsourcing business in Bangladesh, but the biggest bottleneck was my English speaking ability.

Hiring people, talking to clients, designing software, and having one-on-one meetings with team members in English? It seemed like a long way to go, but I decided to do what I could and enrolled in English classes on the recommendation of my brother from school.

(My English teacher, Ms. Rinvee)

Without Ms. Rinvee, I wouldn't have the team we have today.

While most of the students were looking for a North American teacher, I purposely chose a Bangladeshi teacher because it was a better opportunity to learn their accent and culture. Slowly starting to move out of the “Hello, I'm fine thank you and you?” stage, she taught me to get surely increased English skills.

(Source : The Futur)

Every morning I watched Futur's videos on YouTube. Futur is a YouTuber who runs a design agency in the U.S. He teaches a variety of skills for the agency business. English is a bonus.

Looking back now, six months later, I realize that I shouldn't have gotten so hung up on perfect English. It's just a communication tool, and what matters more is the message. As long as I prepared my message well, my terrible pronunciation and accent didn't hinder my team at all.

2. Excitement and nerves for the first hire

There's so much to talk about when it comes to hiring. I had to go through a lot of trial and error to get to where I am today, but the most important thing I can take away is that I started hiring despite my fears.

As a bit of TMI, I've never been to a company or worked in an organization before.

So I don't have any experience with how a typical company's hiring process works. I knew nothing about CVs, offer letters, probationary periods, employment contracts, how to pay overseas employees, how to follow overseas labor laws, overseas bonus schemes, how to handle taxes, and so much more.

I think starting a company boils down to one thing : “How do you solve problems you don't understand?”

I've never been in a typical organization for more than 10 years, but encountered a lot of problems that I didn't know how to solve. 99% of them can be solved by 1) asking someone better than me, or 2) reading a book. I solved the above problems one by one by asking questions, reading, and watching YouTube.

(Source: Potential)

First, I put together a bunch of materials to get the company organized. 

I've seen other companies set up a company wiki or onboarding process. You don't want your new team members to be confused. I know it's really crappy for other companies, but I had to get the ball rolling, so I made a quick start. We posted the job and started accepting applications. This is where the hell(!?) begins.

(Source: Potential)

Having never hired someone before, I had no idea who was good and who wasn't.

And four months later, quickly I realized that I was often spectacularly wrong. I've had a lot of hiring failures, but I've gotten better through trial and error. There's a lot to be said about how to hire good international team members. (More on that later)

(Source: Potential)

The hardest part was probably the interview.

It was probably one of the few interviews where the interviewer was more nervous than the interviewee. I prepared the script by asking ChatGPT to create an interview script, adding our colors to it, and memorizing the questionnaire so that any mistakes would be obvious. 

The job interviews took place one by one. Unfortunately, until the third interview, I was really bad at leading interviews. However, I gained confidence as I continued to improve, and now I can crack jokes and try to relax the interviewee a lot.

Doing interviews frequently has also had an unexpected effect. I didn't have to pay to learn how to speak English on the above platforms, so I was able to save money on English classes.

3. My invaluable teammate, Forhad

I would be lying if I said that all of this was possible through my own efforts alone. I couldn't have made it this far without my first teammate and dear friend, Forhad.

(Source: Potential)

I still remember my first meeting with Forhad.

I interviewed him in the early days when I wasn't yet good at interviewing in English, and even after just a few words, I realized that this guy was different. He had an easygoing, witty demeanor that came from dealing with a lot of American clients. 

What really stood out to me was his ability to negotiate, and Forhad offered me a salary that I would have never thought possible for a Bangladeshi designer. 

I realized that he knew how to sell, so I offered him a higher salary, and I was right. I don't know how I would have run the team without him. Forhad is very responsible, honest, and knows how to work professionally.

(Source: Potential)

While on my team, Forhad also got married. I have to build this company to the best of my capabilities so that Forhad and his family can be financially wealthy and happy.

4. What matters more than salary and benefits

I'm sure most of you are reading this with the same thought in mind. (That's why I went to Bangladesh, too.) How can I run a development team with less money? How can I save money? I understand that at the end of the day, business is real and you have to look at it from a strictly cost/revenue perspective.

However, if I see my team members as a way to save money, then from that point on, they will see me as a payroll machine. This is something I overlooked too much in the beginning, and it's something I pay attention to the most now. I've learned through experience that people aren't driven by money alone. More on this in the next article!

*Books that helped me as a budding entrepreneur

Alive at Work: The Neuroscience of Helping Your People Love What They Do 
The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You: Zhuo, Julie: 9780735219564: Books 
High Output Management by Grove, Andrew S. 

(Source: Potential)

I just registered an account on Fiverr. Now it's time to compete with Indian/Pakistani developers instead of Korean ones. It won't be easy, but I'm sure we'll find a way.

Next Post|South Korean startup founder met his Bangladeshi employees for the first time after an 18-hour flight

Written by Dongsub Shin (CEO and Founder of Potential)

Dongsub Developer


T +82-10-2706-1463
WEWORK 4F, 147, Yanghwa-ro Mapo-gu
Seoul, Korea


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Dongsub Lukas Shin
CEO and Founder of Potential