Alpha Bucks

I just attended another Toastmaster session, this time with the group in Yeouido (“yuh-ui-doh”: a name that perfectly illustrates the need for a better transliteration standard).

Between introducing myself as the guy who moved to Seoul a week ago, diving in to give the first speech of the evening (a 2 minute mini-improv where I peddled my Agile schtick), and sticking around for drinks afterwards, I think I left a decent impression.

Aside from the general schmoozing, Tom from Texas gave me a great nugget of info on the Seoul Global Village Center, a nonprofit that gives free classes to foreigners on how to adjust to start up business.

Holy crap how much good luck am I having thrown my way?

I’m not sure whether there’s an actual session tomorrow or just signing up for the next round, but since enrollment is based on feasibility of business ideas, I thought it best to knock out as much detail of my business plan as possible.

Once I write the code for the core transliteration engine, the real trick will be to come up with as many contexts in which to integrate it.  It will never displace entrenched proper nouns, especially of locations whose names haven’t changed on the map for over a century, but I’ve got enough other contexts that I might have a shot of building momentum towards promoting it into an ISO standard:

  • educational material for foreigners learning Korean
  • a web browser plugin that auto-transliterates highlighted text
  • selling the code to Google or Facebook to help break into’s market
  • feeding the output into a text-to-audio app to hear instant pronunciation
  • a smartphone app that parses text from any photo
  • Karaoke so non-Koreans can sing along to K-pop
  • formalizing as an ISO standard
  • SWIFT messaging for bank payments

That last one is my ace in the hole.

It’s fair to assume that, among the expat population in Korea, a sizeable subset comes from a tech background, and that my observations about the deficiency in the existing transliteration standards are even more universal.  So I’d say the Venn diagram of people who could take my idea and implement both the engine and most of the integration points above is very large (assuming a similar project isn’t already underway).

But I’m pretty sure my extensive experience in finance generally, and specifically my 2 projects in Moscow using the RUR-6 standard to transliterate Cyrillic for transmission over SWIFT, puts me in a league of my own.

That said, the Russia Banking License project was a massive fiasco (albeit for reasons having mostly to do with archaic security regulations written in the wake of the Cold War) that contributed to my ultimately leaving GS in exhaustion.  What’s more, the Korean language itself has been the persistent frustration of my existence since about age 5, this project feels like I’m putting all my shames into one basket that will either end in tears or catharsis.  All it needs now is to throw into the mix my ex-girlfriend from college to be the ultimate trifecta of my personal life failings.

If any Brown folks are reading this, PLEASE don’t get any ideas…

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2 Responses to Alpha Bucks

  1. Tom says:

    You gotta add some Anthropology-Linguistics into that.

    • Tommy-Tom, Tom-tom,
      I’ll see what I can work in.
      Tricky cause I used my best material in my travel blog and don’t want to recycle too much…

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