• Updated : 2018.7.27 금 10:39
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Youth Start-ups: Sparkling Challenges to Pursue Their Dreams
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승인 2016.03.11  17:10:27
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     Getting a job is tough for youths in Korea these days. The youth unemployment rate is about 9%, higher than ever, and university students prepare for years to enter companies or to be public servants. The word ‘chwi-jun-saeng’, which means a student who is preparing for employment, became a natural title for the seniors in college. It seems that our society is not so friendly to ordinary students who are following their dreams. However, in such a situation, there are passionate and energetic students who have started their own business to achieve their dreams. Their companies can be the groundwork to make their dreams come true and to encourage other young people. The Chonnam Tribune listened to the true stories of young entrepreneurs and would like to share their sparkling ideas and dreams.

   
▲ Min Hee-jin introduces books published by her company "Younjibook".

Conveying Authors’ Voices: Younjibook
     ‘Younjibook’ is a year-old publishing company managed by one person. It published more than 10 books last year. The young owner of Younjibook, in which ‘youn-ji’ stands for the first letters of a pencil and an eraser in Korean, started the business to publish a book filled with an author’s story. Min Hee-jin (Sophomore, Dept. of Fine Arts) who is the astonishing young owner of Younjibook softly whispered her publishing philosophy. The publishing company itself is special, but Min had an even more special reason to start this business. She decided to run a press company when she found out that other publishers refused to publish her older brother’s book because it was not so commercial. So, she gathered information about start-ups through books and web-sites and then established the company.
     She remembered that the very early stage of the business was quite tough because she had to keep up with her business and studies together. “As it is not a big business, I had to answer all the phone calls from the small bookstores one by one for the contract.” She said she was seriously concerned about having to take a leave of absence because she could not focus on her classes. She thought she could not do both at the same time. However, she never gave up on the business. She mentioned “Baekkobmadang Aidle” which is a book the author wrote for his grandson to tell a story of his childhood. She said that it is a book which truly follows the company’s philosophy. She added, “At first, I started with the mind of ‘Okay, let’s just do this.’ But now I want to keep the company to save the books of authors.” She started her business for only one person, but now it’s for many authors who want to tell their story.

   
▲ Choi Young-woo and Kim Weon-hyun make coffee at their food truck “Dessert Factory”.

Running a Cafe for Youths: Dessert Factory
     To start up a business is a challenge for young people to realize their dreams. Choi Young-woo (Junior, Dept. of English Language and Literature, Chosun University), chose to start Gwangju’s first food truck cafe, ‘Desert Factory’, for this reason. “I wanted to run my own business when I am still young.” Choi was a job seeker like anyone else before he started the business. But he changed his mind to do something that he really wanted. “While doing the business, I can travel around the country and go to new places and meet a variety of people.” Choi thought the item ‘food truck’ fits well with the idea of challenge of the youth and started the business.
     Choi and his business partner Kim Weon-hyun (Junior, Dept. of English Language and Literature, Chosun University) raised the funds for their start-up by doing part time jobs. They also prepared for their business by taking management classes and learnt how to run a café while doing their part time jobs. However, as a food truck service is not a developed business, they had a lot of difficulties. They had to face many problems and find solutions on their own. “As the regulations for the business were not very stabilized, I had to consider restricted business areas and stores that were already there.” Nevertheless, they are proud of the fact that their business is Gwangju’s first official food truck. Choi added, “The work is hard, but I am satisfied with the increasing attention of the food truck service.” He said his current work is a preparation for his new challenge. His next step is to double the number of food trucks and tie his business with cultural spaces for young people. Like this, start-ups are chances for the youth to get closer to their dreams.

   
▲ Jo Yong-hyeon explains his company “Hupple”.

Expressway Info Desk: Hupple
     “It all came out when my friends and I were heading back home from the trip.” Jo Yong-hyeon (Graduate, Dept. of Energy and Resources Engineering), the owner of the company ‘Hupple’, an acronym for an application about service areas on the expressway, explained where the idea came from. They stopped by a rest area and ordered something to eat while they were traveling on a bus. However, the food was not served on time so they just had to leave. They wanted to change this inconvenience. Therefore, they started up the business. Hupple is a service which provides information about each rest area on expressway by SNS and blogs. Service users can also write information about the rest areas they dropped in. The company is planning to make an independent homepage and applications in the near future. Jo said if the business could continue, he would like to add prepayment and coupon services by cooperating with the Road Traffic Authority.
     As they are looking at the business for the long-run, they need funds. Jo said that funds during the risky period are essential for a companies’ survival. “We were lucky because we were supported by the government. But many other companies are in need.” The company started with the help of the CNU Entrepreneurship Education Center which operates many programs, offers equipment for start-ups and provides the initial funding for them. However, the aid is not a cure-all for young entrepreneurs. The continuous attention and investments are needed like the Angel investigations in the U.S.

   
▲ Kim Sun-woo (right), the representative of AYO and his colleague

Young Artists’ Cooperative: AYO
     Some students started up their businesses to help other youths who are in need. Many kinds of student cooperatives are built for this reason. A cooperative is an economical group that is owned by users, governed by the users and its profit is shared altogether. In short, it is an autonomous association. Art Young Opportunity (AYO) composed of students majoring in fine arts gives a hand to fledgling artists by giving them a chance to display their art work. It promotes young artists’ art works by making sliding puzzles with them and hosting exhibitions in public places.
     “Before we started the business, we thought carefully about what we really needed.” Kim Sun-woo (Senior, Dept. of Fine Arts) who is one of AYO’s members said they made the cooperative to help young artists who are in need just like them. While operating the co-op, there were many conflicts and arguments inside the group. “However, I think it is a natural circumstance that we have to go through. It is the true meaning of democracy inside the co-op.” The cooperative is currently developing as the members keep making and adjusting the rules and model articles. ”Communication is important when running a business. It is a key point as the business is not actually making a profit yet, a sensitive matter,” Kim stressed. They will make a network between young artists and produce content in the near future. From this point of view, youth start-ups could be a bright alternative for the hard society we live in now.

For Every Youth Working Hard for Their Dream
     A start-up is one way to follow one’s dream. However, there are practical challenges to jump into a business without systematic plans. In fact, Korea’s youth start-up expectancy rate is only 6% which is quite a bit lower than other countries. It is because they are afraid of failure. This is exactly the same reason why youths in Korea do not follow their true dreams and challenge themselves with something new. They are frightened that they cannot comeback to society if they fail. To solve this problem, our government should build a proper social safety net to protect the youth when they fail. Also, an emotional and economical support from the society is necessary.
     In the movie The Sound of Music, there are the lyrics "climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow till you find your dream." It means that you should accept challenges and do everything to find and follow your dreams during your life. The nuns in the movie sang this song to encourage Maria to follow her true dream. For young people, start-ups can be a challenge or a beginning to pursue their dreams. It can be their final destination in life, but it also can be a first step to leap further. To take that first step, encouragement and support from our society is necessary.
 

By Na Min-a, Student Editor

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