For professional and amateur anglers, Korean startup FishingTag offers a memorable fishing experience through an online platform. Jae Hyuck Yang, the founder and CEO of the startup, started the app out of his lifelong love for fishing and seeing the market opportunity for a platform where fishing enthusiasts could fish offline and compete in fishing competitions online.
His experience with different launch platforms enabled him to create the FishingTag platform.
In an interview with Koreatechdesk.com, Jae Hyuck Yang shares how the idea of FishingTag came from the famous game PokemonGo and the company’s plans to explore the US market.
1. Please tell me about your personal background and what you are currently working on.
I did my Under Graduation in Business Management. As the importance of IT has increased, I founded an IT company after graduation. Fortunately, the company has been requested to design and launch platforms in different industries, e.g, e-commerce, education and gaming. Thanks to our team, clients who were satisfied with the quality of platforms introduced us to their friends. We have been busy creating platforms until we started FishingTAG.
2. What motivated you to start your company?
Fishing is one of the oldest sports and also my favorite hobby. When I am happy or stressed, I love to go fishing. I have also participated in fishing tournaments. The more I dive into my business, the less time for fishing I have. I started to think of how to solve the time issue through IT. Thankfully, I got an idea from Pokemon Go, the virtual monster-catching mobile game. People compete online with monsters that do not even exist on the earth, but mobile. I tried to imagine what if people fish offline and compete online. I shared this idea with my fishing friends. After several attempts, I arrived at the conclusion of creating an online platform for fishing, FishingTAG.
3. Please tell me more about your founding team.
Our founding team started from an IT company that provides a service to create a platform in various industries. Through a number of experiences, the team could understand the nature of an online platform. The team consists of 4 designers and 3 programmers. Our first challenge was communication between designers and programmers. Due to the different expertise among them, it took a while to understand each other. As time passed, the team completed projects and both designers and programmers learned how to work as a team. Based on those experiences, the team created FishingTAG.
4. How have you attracted users and grow your company from the start?
The concept of FishingTAG is new to the market and anglers. We have contacted professional anglers and fishing associations, and are organizing offline fishing competitions. We received feedback from them and developed the service. At the same time, we also carefully selected professional anglers who have communication channels with fishing fans and customers. In return for receiving gifts from us, they made videos and uploaded on YouTube. That is how we approached the market in the beginning.
5. What’s your business model and how have you grown your revenue?
Our business models for the early stage are 1) to sell FishingTAG Smart Measure and 2) to launch online fishing tournaments where participants need to pay entrance fees. FishingTAG Smart Measure is a necessary device for users of FishingTAG to measure the size of fish and this enables FishingTAG to hold online fishing tournaments.
As a testbed, FishingTAG team used South Korea. At the moment, fishing is getting more popular through TV and YouTube in South Korea. This expanded the concept of fishing tournaments that mainly professional anglers or anglers with many years of experience used to participate but normal anglers can enjoy the tournaments. A South Korean version of YouTube, called Africa TV, called us to cooperate to pioneer the online fishing industry together.
FishingTAG Measure is on Naver Smart Store, South Korean version of Amazon, and Amazon in the US since September.
6. What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
The biggest challenge we have faced is to make people familiar with the idea of the online fishing tournament. As an online fishing tournament has never taken place, people do not get the idea in the beginning.
Fortunately, PokemonGo is popular among people. We have used it as an example of competing online. The rest is the concept of measuring the size of fish. Fortunately, we got connected to YouTubers who create content in fishing and they liked FishingTAG. They played an important role in explaining how to use FishingTAG. Still, we have not reached even 0.1 percent of anglers. We need to strive to make people like our service.
7. How much money have you raised so far? When was the recent funding round?
So far, we have raised $180,000 as a seed fund. This has been invested in completing the first version of FishingTAG and researching the US market. As we just launched the service and started to sell online, we need to wait and see how it works.
8. What are the challenges you’ve faced in the process of fund-raising?
Fortunately, we got seed funds as investors liked our idea. As we launch the service in the US, we guess that we might be faced with different barriers in proceeding with the service (such as) getting investment and a way to spend the fund. We might raise funds in the US from the very beginning because the service is targeted in the US. This would also help us to smoothly get Series A investment in the US.
9. What are the milestones for the next round and your goals for the future?
FishingTAG’s next milestone is to become a platform for fishing. As a user takes a picture to measure the size of fish, seven environmental information points are also created. This is not from the moment we take a picture, but for the last 24 hours from that moment.
We believe FishingTAG would be a platform that owns big data. Later, we hope the data would suggest anglers the best fishing spot after synthesizing and analyzing both the data we have and future forecasts. FishingTAG has the potential for different businesses. For example, O2O service for accommodation around fishing spots.
10. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received and what advice do you have for someone who is interested in doing similar things?
We appreciate the advice from investors that FishingTAG is a good platform and that there is no competitor with the same business model. We also like companies who attempt to create and shape businesses that no one tries and there is a clear need in the market.