COUPANG: How a Harvard dropout founded South Korea’s most valuable start-up

“The shape of Coupang, the business model of Coupang … went through a lot of change” — Bom Kim, FOUNDER AND CEO OF COUPANG

SEOUL — For many would-be entrepreneurs, Harvard’s prestigious MBA program provides an important step in the journey from dreamer to founder.

But for Bom Kim, that step was quicker than most. Just six months into the program, he dropped out, determined to make it on his own. Now, less than a decade on, Kim is the billionaire brains behind South Korea’s most valuable start-up.

“I had a belief when I was in grad school that I had a very short window to really make something that had an impact,” he told CNBC Make It.

Kim is founder and CEO of Coupang, the $9 billion e-commerce giant that’s been dubbed the Amazon of South Korea.

He started the business in Seoul in 2010 to take advantage of what he saw as the growing technology opportunity. Today his company boasts a user-base almost half the size of the country’s population.

However, as the 41-year-old founder recently told CNBC Make It, he didn’t exactly set out to become the next Jeff Bezos.