A Korean College Student Advances to the Final Stage of a Venture Business Plan Competition
보스톤코리아  2011-08-29, 14:56:26 
By HyunCheon Kim
Translated by SeungYoun Woo

An application (app) from a venture business, founded by a Korean student (Ja-Young Yoon, 4th year of electrotechnology in Yonsei University) is advanced to the final round of a venture business plan competition, Mass Challenge, and is in competition with about a hundred American and other multinational business products. The business model of Styleshare is an application that connects social network services (SNS) and online shopping malls. The app will be available through iPhone on the 28th of this month.

In order to participate in the competition and develop some networks inside the U.S., Yoon has been staying in Boston since the end of June. “The concept of the business plan started from social networking. The application uploads anyone’s clothing pictures, and at the same moment brands and prices of clothing appear.

Currently, there is no profit model; however, eventually many users and communities will gather to use this app, and there sure will be some profit later,” said Yoon. “Also, it isn’t worth just looking at some fashion pictures. Looking at friends’ clothes makes people more eager to buy than looking at celebrities’. Thus, it will be very influential.”

Yoon’s business plan competed with about 800 other business companies in the beginning of this year, and she was the only Asian to be advanced to the final round. Her plan will be evaluated and she will receive the advice of mentors until the beginning of October. At the end of the competition, about $1K will be granted to the final top ten winners.

Yoon and her 4 members of the team are currently in the Marina Building, provided by Mass Challenge. “Only 1% of venture founders are surviving but I’ll do my best for my team members,” she said. If she wins the prize money, Yoon will use all money for the business funds.

Before participating in the Mass Challenge, Yoon showed her great ability through challenging the many other competitions. She was in the top ten of the 2011 MIT Global Startup Workshop Elevator Pitch Contest early this year, and the top ten of the 11th Korean Student Venture Competition. Also, she was the youngest lecturer at the 2011 Yes Leader Entrepreneurship.

One of the judges from the 2011 MIT Global Startup Workshop Elevator Pitch Contest, John Harthorne is the one who suggested to Yoon that she participate in the Mass Challenge. “Jayoung is outstanding. She is very smart, focused and committed.

When I have made introductions on her behalf, she has consistently impressed the other party. In the world of startups, investors typically invest in people -- and Jayoung is definitely worthy. I have also had a chance to meet the rest of her team since they came to the US and I am equally impressed.

The very fact that they took the trip to Boston to work on their startup is a strong indication of their commitment and passion, and that is already a very good sign. I think they have a strong future and a great chance to build a hugely successful startup.” Harthorne commented on Yoon.

Although Yoon graduated from Daeil Foreign Language High School, she gave up on majoring in liberal arts, and converted to sciences. Finally, she decided to major in electrotechnology in Yonsei University. Even though she was at the top of her major, she was not satisfied with herself and enthusiastically went to find more to do in her field.

Yoon, who has been interested in street fashion, once found a blog that described interests and ideas that were similar to hers. Then she, with much initiative and spunk, went to London to visit the blog owner.

After meeting with the blogger, Yoon started making detailed business plans. In 2010, when a business counseling program was established in her university, she took some advice from counselors, and then finally founded Styleshare.

Primer, a venture incubator business, co-managed by Do-Kyun Kwon, a founder of Inicis, and Taek-Kyung Lee, a founder of Daum, has been supporting Styleshare since its founding, as a mentor and it also provides some funds ­to the business.

Mass Challenge, a non-profit organization established by MIT Sloan graduate students, is a business development program supported by the state to encourage challenges and novel ideas of venture businesses.

For the competition, famous companies, such as Microsoft, Xerox and Johnson & Johnson”, are sponsoring venture businesses, allowing them to use their buildings. The participating teams have to find their own way to receive funds and media outlets during the competition. Also, they have to make presentations on their business plans regularly.

Yoon is not comfortable with presenting in English even though she went to a foreign high school. “I never want help from a translator. I will do everything on my own,” said Yoon, who is such a meticulous CEO.

All teams are American except Styleshare and two or three other teams. Yoon has been spending time with them for 2 months now and she said, “There are many more outstanding teams from South Korea other than the currently existing team, but I’m very sorry that they can’t participate in the competition because of a language barrier.”

She also added, “Also, I’m glad to experience American culture that gives opportunities through events and funds to developing businesses, and doesn’t just consider the founders’ abilities. Culture and society are the ones which develop founders to become worldwide businesses.” If her business grows, Yoon wants to hold these kinds of events in Korea.

Styleshare Team Members
The members of Styleshare, located in the Marina Building since the end of June, total 5, including Yoon. All the other members are males from 18 to early 20’s.
They have been working hard-- about 12 hours a day-- putting in their best effort.
Min-Hee Hong (co-founder/CTO 22), Hun-Chul Park (App developer 18).
Eun-Chong Yoo (Web developer 22), Jae-Hyung Choi (Designer 24)

ⓒ 보스톤코리아(http://www.bostonkorea.com), 무단전재 및 재배포 금지
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