The Seoul Global Center where I took my classes on how to startup a business in Korea also grants out free “incubation office” space for a 6 month period in its 3 business locations: Jonggak (downtown), Gangnam (SE), and Yeouido (SW).
My first interview for the Jonggak site got rejected (probably didn’t help that I forgot to dress up for the event) but after reorganizing my plan and my wardrobe, I got approved for Yeouido from July 1 til Dec 31, 2013.
The following business case is what I originally submitted on paper, and differs somewhat from what I presented on my 2nd interview (will explain in a later post).
Incidentally, I have no idea what an actual business case is supposed to look like.
The mission of Dragon and Crane Technologies is to facilitate closer business, technology, and language integration between Korea and the west.
Dragon and Crane Technologies draws primarily on intellectual capital. Its key assets are:
11 years experience in banking, technology, and project management (PMP certified)
cosmopolitan perspective that encompasses Korean, American and European nationalities (EU citizenship)
extensive public speaking experience (Agile@Cisco Day 2012 conference speaker)
Products and Services
Dragon and Crane Technologies will offer the following strategic products and services to achieve the above goals:
create next-generation language technology (software and multimedia) for westerners to more easily learn and interact with the Korean language
provide consulting services for Koreans to adopt the latest western business practices, especially in Project Management and Agile/Scrum Software
Business Plan (Language Technology)
Hangul is widely regarded by linguists as “the most perfect phonetic system ever conceived.”
Yet listen to any foreigner say “Seoul” or “Gangnam Style” and it’s clear that pronunciation is a persistent problem.
The problem is not with Hangul itself, but the way in which it is taught, especially the romanization. The original McClune-Reischaur (MR) standard was invented in 1937, and even the new Revised Romanization (RR) is heavily derived from it.
Therefore both standards reflect cultural and linguistic assumptions that were true 75 years ago:
most westerners learning Korean were professional diplomats, scholars, or missionaries
they were likely educated in French, German, and/or Latin (not just English)
international tourism and entertainment industries did not exist
By comparison, most westerners today are English speakers – either native (USA, Cananda, UK, Ireland, etc) or a strong level of competence as a second language (Netherlands, Germany, France, etc).
Moreover, and are likely to have only a casual or limited level of interest (e.g. tourists, businessmen, listeners of K-pop, students taking an elective, international banks, etc).
Dragon and Crane Technologies will create a new standard which is more simple, intuitive, and accessible for foreigners who are familiar with English as either a first or second language.
This standard will be embedded into software which will be made accessible through a variety of media:
webpage for copy-and-paste conversion (like Google Translate but for pronunciation)
browser extension (e.g. IE, Firefox, Chrome) for automated conversion
smartphone camera app for “click-parse-pronounce” pronunciation guide
This will be supplemented by multimedia (Powerpoint, YouTube) in English walking foreigners through the basics of how to read and pronounce Korean.
Business Plan (Consulting Services)
Korea has a strong tradition of Confucianism, which has a strong tendency towards consensus agreement, homogeneity, hierarchy and seniority.
Economically, this has served it well during its long pre-modern period where it was agriculturally based, and also during the post-war period where industrial manufacturing was critical to growth.
However, the recent shift away from industrialism to the “knowledge” based economy puts a premium upon open disagreement, diversity, egalitarianism and meritocracy.
This kind of cultural change is very difficult to effect, especially in such traditionally male-dominated areas as engineering and hard sciences. It’s easy to talk hear a lecturer talk about the virtues of diversity and openness as abstract concepts, but much more challenging to implement them in real business situations.
Dragon and Crane Technologies will draw on 11 years of working in such cutting edge and competitive environments as Goldman Sachs and Cisco Systems to provide real-world illustrations and hands-on workshops that provide a path for converting the abstracts goals into realistic implementations.
Korean language students
This is the most obvious target group and the natural starting point. Since most programs merely treat Hangul as a pre-lesson before actual instruction, our multimedia can serve as a complement for these schools without being seen as competition.
Realistically, this market is quite small and limited for monetization: there are a limited number of Korean students in the world, and they are probably not willing to pay much, especially if they are already sufficiently advanced in Hangul that they see little benefit from the tool.
Therefore the focus of this market is for demonstrating the credibility of the new romanization standard and building up rand recognition among the overall community.
K-pop and Karaoke
As K-pop grows in popularity around the world, the overseas market becomes increasingly important as a revenue stream. Although PSY made an estimated $10 million from YouTube advertisements and iTunes sales in the US, domestic sales in Korea are estimated at less than 100,000.
In other words, the American market was worth 100 times the Korean market.
Therefore musicians have a vested interest in maximizing their appeal to foreigners.
Studies show that participating in music by singing along actually increases enjoyment. Therefore making Korean songs to sing along to will make them more accessible and enjoyable to English speakers who don’t have the time to learn Hangul.
Similarly, converting K-pop songs using the new standard will make it easier for foreigners to sing along to their favorite songs which currently they are unable to.
The added benefit of using karaoke as a marketing medium is that, since the machines give a score at the end of each song, there is an objective metric by which we can measure the improvement in scores when using the old M-R romanization standard vs. the new Dragon and Crane system.
As Korean becomes increasing integrated into the global financial system, its local banks will have to do business with large transnational banks that span multiple countries.
In order to reconcile its payments, books & records, and various other systems with the central systems, it requires a transliteration mechanism between Hangul and the ASCII character set which is readable and yet allows 2-way conversion.
Along with romanization, the Dragon and Crane system will include transliteration which eliminates the need for human interaction to perform the conversion, thereby reducing manual overhead and risk from operational processes.
This is expected to be the most lucrative market for this product line. Of course, the standard will only be acceptable to banks if it has first gained widespread popular acceptance through the other marketing lines.
In addition, this area will allow additional revenue in the form of consulting, based on previous experience working in the Treasury Operations of Goldman Sachs.
The Korean government spends upwards of $600 million annually promoting tourism. Yet for all this, foreigners still struggle to pronounce even the name of the capital, Seoul.
Having an intuitive pronunciation guide will make tourists less afraid of basic interactions such as taking the subway.
The 2002 conversion from M-R to R-R proved to be a fiasco, as “Busan” on a plane ticket didn’t match up with “Pusan” on an older map. The Dragon and Crane system is designed above all to reduce confusion, not create more.
Therefore we have no ambitious to change the names of proper nouns such as names and locations. Rather, the new system will serve as a pronunciation guide that complements the existing formal names.
So for example, the following subway station can be written as:
여의도 Yeouido (yuh-wee-doh)
Business Relationships for Cooperative Ventures
widely regarded as #1 in internet-based Korean instruction
over 100,000 Likes on Facebook and 50,000 subscribers on YouTube
have initiated a relationship as a guest blogger
widely regarded as #1 in classroom-based Korean instruction
existing relationship with a professor of Yonsei KLI who is receptive to new ideas for enhancing curriculum
13,500 clubs globally, 42 in Korea, 22 in Seoul
strong networking opportunity for both clients and collaborators
have already been invited to take a leadership position, opportunity to demonstrate communication, leadership, operational and technical skills
Project Management Institute
PMP certification widely regarded #1 certification for project management
Korea chapter based in Seoul, founded in 2012
monthly meetings provide opportunities for networking and presentation