Ep 31 Sean Park, How GroupRaise Became The Tastiest Way to Change the World

Sometimes the best ideas happen while sharing a meal. In the case of GroupRaise, it’s not just ideas that get shared, but a percentage of the profits as well. GroupRaise is a fundraising organization that partners with restaurants across 50 states to offer time slots where local organizations and international charities can book fundraisers in a few clicks. But most people don’t realize that GroupRaise is one of the most cost effective ways of getting new clients into the restaurant and getting them to come back again. Of 100 people who go to a GroupRaise, 40 are new clients, 82 spend more than average and 96 come back in the future!

On this episode of Crossing Borders, Sean Park, one of the GroupRaise co-founders, joined me at the Magma Partners office in Chile to talk about how he helped start the tastiest way to change the world. This is a great conversation I think you will enjoy!

Position yourself to lead, regardless of where you are

Every entrepreneur could tell a different story of how they gained leadership experience when they started and the most notable lessons they learned along the way. For Sean Park, that story started in South Korea, led him to Canada and then eventually Chile.

“I moved to Canada on my own to attend school when I was 14,” he said. Soon after finishing school, Sean traveled back to South Korea to serve as a medic the military, as was required by his government. At 21 years of age, he was leading more than 50 people for several months at a time. “Most 21-year-olds don’t get that kind of leadership exposure,” he stated. That experience allowed him to learn the process of creating a leadership culture, a skill that he now uses to manage a remote GroupRaise team in Santiago, Chile. Check out the rest of his story, he shares some great leadership perspectives.           

How I got to Chile and why I never left

After two years in the military, Sean received an invitation to join the GroupRaise project. This ultimately led him to Chile, where his team received funding from Startup Chile. When I asked him why he never left, this is what he had to say.

“I didn’t have to convince anyone that staying in Chile was a good idea,” he laughed. There were business reasons, as well as personal that influenced the decision. Besides developing a local team that worked very well together, the lifestyle Chile affords was also a motivating factor. After living in snowy Canada for 10 years, the sunny weather offered him the chance to get out and explore. “Bi-weekly, I go up into the mountains, or I go to the beach and surf” he offered. For anyone who has an interest in Chile, Sean offers a great taste of the culture one might experience.  

The first is the most important

I asked Sean to share advice for leaders building teams across borders, and what challenges remote teams might face.

“The first employee you hire is the most important…you need to hire someone who can lead because they will establish the culture for all of the employees that come after,” Sean said. For him and his co-founders, a deep trust was established early on, which then became a foundation for the culture he wanted to build within the company. He also emphasized the importance of clear communication, and how building a “culture sheet” can organize how companies handle issues and answer important questions around company identity and long-term vision.      

A remote team is not the same as outsourcing

Sean and I addressed a common misconception that remote teams are “just support” for the teams based in the United States. Remote teams are often seen as “outsourcing” work when in reality, they carry as much responsibility and importance as their US partners.

Businesses are going to operate within the reality that works best, that makes the most sense for that company, Sean said. Remote individuals are one thing, teams are another. He shared that companies with remote teams should pay careful attention how communication is happening across borders. To solve some of these issues at GroupRaise, the company assigns specific tasks for certain days, they plan times to share content with teams in other countries and time zones and work to communicate everything, not just the “necessary” information. Sean says that the sensitive communication dynamics means an increased level of detail and planning, a culture that is strong at GroupRaise. There is a ton of great content that he talks about, so make sure to listen to this episode.


Outline of This Episode

  • [3:00] Sean’s background, from South Korea to Canada to Chile
  • [12:30] Why Sean considers his military experience invaluable
  • [16:00] Sean shares valuable lessons and advice from the restaurant industry  
  • [19:30] How to build an effective leadership team
  • [24:15] Sean’s transition to Chile and the entrepreneurial lifestyle
  • [29:30] Unique leadership struggles Sean had to overcome
  • [34:10] The outsourcing misconception  
  • [37:30] Practical steps to build a strong employee culture
  • [46:15] Sean’s advice to his younger self:  “learn how to learn.”
  • [49:30] The value of knowing where you are headed next   

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