Korean startup Talking About Inc. CEO & founder Hyunwoo Kim started his media business as a single person army. The startup that provides translations and multilingual voice over service to YouTubers is now a revenue-generating company with talented employees in the media field.
Hyunwoo Kim wants to pivot the business and make it more dynamic with a service that offers YouTubers with AD services companies. He wants to resolve the problem faced by advertisers when choosing the correct social media videos for promotions and, at the same time, help YouTubers generate revenue from the right sources. Hyunwoo Kim talked with koreatechdesk.com about his company, his aspirations for the future, and how he was able to achieve growth in a short span of two years.
1. Please tell me about your background and what motivated you to get started with your company?
I organized socializing parties for six years with foreign guests and had a good network of contacts. So I had the opportunity to convert my networking business to a translation company. Thanks to the high demand for multilingual subtitles for YouTube, it happened.
2. What is your current main product, and can you share any previous product pivot story to the current product?
The largest part of the current cash flow is the media content localization such as translation and multilingual voice-over service. Our team is expanding the business field to MCN that mainly supports the subtitles attracting viewers overseas.
3. What is the market opportunity?
YouTube is rapidly universal to all walks of life, so new YouTube creators are also quickly generated. Their goal is just to create the contents, not distributing them to get consumed. We’re expected to play a key role in localizing, which can do derivative business in various fields. We hope it will lead us to pivot
4. What’s your business model, and how have you grown your revenue? What strategy worked best?
Ultimately, our team will develop a matching platform for YouTubers and advertisers, supporting a strong search engine based on AI. That’s why we’ve tried to find a promising YouTuber that grows worldwide. To make both parties active in this platform, we’re still looking for new YouTubers, contributing to increasing the revenue as AD agency. Until we stably reach the pivot, this business model will help us settled and grow the business in a broader range of fields. This is the initial strategy for us. Without consistent cash flow, the startup is vulnerable to the financial problem even before jumping over the Death Valley
5. Please tell me more about your founding team
At the beginning of the business, outsourcing-based translation requested by the client could make a profit with low risk. So I didn’t need to set up the founding team. As a one-person company, initial revenue was to discover the unknown talented person in each field for our business. We’re still spending huge resource in seeking them. I believe human resource is the biggest value for growing the company. Our team currently consists of 4 departments – marketing, contents localization, creator manager, and design.
6. How much money have you raised in total so far? When was the recent funding round?
It’s fully 2 years since established, but no history for fundraising. We don’t want to highly rely on the investment by succeeding the revenue-making performance. This challenge ensures internal stability and offers an insight on the rapidly changing market. I’m sure this trace to survive amid competition can leave a strong impression for accelerators.
7. What are the biggest challenges and obstacles that you have faced in the process of fundraising? If you had to start over, what would you do differently?
Depending on who measures, the value of the company definitely differs. As a company with 12 employees, we’re expected to get higher funding than other startups usually do, which can be a burden for investors. They want to ensure we can lead subsequent series investment, but I’m confident to appeal to them. For two years with self-making profit, our business has survived and grown. It is already a great reference to achieve pivoting to matching platform.
8. What are your milestones for the next round? And what are your goals for the future?
Firstly, we’re building more talented team members in the IT field to develop our technology service. During this process, our company can promote constructive performance even before completing. Various of finance and education programs sponsored by the government can boost up our business. Of course, we hope our service can be widely known to YouTuber and advertisers overseas.
9. How have you attracted users and with what strategy have you grown your company from the start to now?
This service is currently unavailable as not been launched yet, but as MCN, we found the difficulties for both parties. Advertisers have to waste too much resource to find a properly matched YouTuber. We hope advertisers save this resource, reducing time-consuming task.
10. What do most startups get wrong about marketing in general?
Marketing usually requires high expenditure. Startups are faced to solve this marketing challenge with a limited budget. I think they should focus right targeting and make the business proposal, not vaguely considering the AD budget only. What startups need to do is how to touch and impress clients, not sell items.
11. How do you plan to expand globally?
We’re specialized in media content localization such as multilingual translation and voice-over. YouTubers cooperating with us will get supported to expand their channel overseas. Our strategy is let them get into the matching platform, connecting worldwide
12. How do you handle this COVID-19 outbreak situation for your company’s survival in the future?
Our business model is not vulnerable to COVID-19. To be globally successful, a startup must avoid constraints of time and space. This has been my business philosophy even before this outbreak situation.
13. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? And What advice do you have for someone who is interested in doing similar things like yours or in a similar direction?
If I were an investor, I’d listen to the leader’s actual plan with reasonable reason. An uncertified startup founder can have better insight than a well-known CEO. Small company highly relies on the leaders. I would like to verify the understanding skills in fluctuating market, leadership, dream, and attitude.
14. What are the top-three books or movies (TV series) that changed your life and why?
부자아빠 가난한 아빠, 책은도끼다, Blue ocean shift(블루오션 시프트) I prefer to read business or money-relevant stuff. As a businessman, I don’t want to get obsessed with chasing money, so different viewpoints are needed.
15. How do you keep yourself motivated every day?
I go jogging in the early morning, not going for any diet or health. My purpose is to refresh my complicating ideas. In the peaceful mood in a park, it gives me special refreshment and insight. Extending the knowledge is the final step. You should organize them by deeply contemplating.
- Flitto: The Korean startup teaching translation to AI-driven online translators
- Korean startup Philobiz Inc.’s Socialerus.com plans to set new standards for media commerce on YouTube
- Korean startup Beanzsoft develops easy-to-use video-editing app AiTube for YouTubers