[Startups in Korea] Vingle – A New Service from the Founders of Viki

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There are various social and curation services popping up all the time and at the birth of such services, gaining a reliable and strong user base can be one of the main obstacles. But what if you already have a large user base which is willing to try out your new service? Vingle is a new service which already has over 600,000 unique visitors a month despite only having launched four months ago.

Vingle began operating its beta service in April this year and was created by Jiwon Moon and Changseong Ho, the founders of successful international video service Viki. Viki is a service where users can watch foreign dramas and movies with translated subtitles in approximately 150 different languages. Translation is done by Viki members who are all volunteers. Vingle is a separate company and Viki has invested US$1 million into the business. Moon talked about the progression from Viki to Vingle.

“One of the questions that we get asked the most about Viki is, “Why do Viki members work so hard translating content without any compensation?” Contrary to popular belief, Viki members are not only teenagers and university students but are from a variety of backgrounds such as retired professors, lawyers and homemakers. While they will all have various reasons for their contributions, the most important factor is their passion for the dramas and movies they enjoy. It’s a system driven by the passion of those who like to share what they love. We thought subtitling is not the only way we could innovate through people’s passion and we tried to come up with general platform for people who want to share their passion.”

Though at first glance the site may look a little bit like the increasingly popular Pinterest, Moon explains that a site is not defined only by its UI and that Vingle’s mosaic UI represents nothing more than just a UI.

“The problems that we are trying to solve are different from the problems that Pinterest is trying to solve. Pinterest is a service designed to bookmark and share images. Vingle, however, is a global community platform that unites people from all over the world through their shared interests.”

Moon says that she has a vision for Vingle that is much bigger than Pinterest. While these may seem like brave words, many users have already started using the platform to share and talk about their interests. Four months since the launch, the Facebook page alone has over 17,000 likes. Nature of content on the site is varied including topics such as travel, food, entertainment, fashion and DIY. Users can view a feed of personally selected categories or check out what’s popular on the main homepage.

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Like Viki, the platform has no limit to the number of languages it supports and in theory all languages can be used. The most active languages are currently English, Spanish, Indonesian, Korean, Thai and French. By the end of the beta period it is expected that the number of active languages on the service will pass ten. Users can easily move between multiple languages, even within individual categories.

One upcoming feature for Vingle is bookmarking, as many beta users have expressed interest in curating their Vingle content and the ability to easily publish content to Vingle straight from their blog. While Pinterest attracted controversy for the use of other sites’ images without giving credit, Vingle’s upcoming bookmarking tool will clearly display the source and actually try to push back traffic to the original source.  As expected, an app is also being developed and will be released in September.

Check out the Vingle website for yourself or like their Facebook page.

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Andy Tebay

I am a New Zealander who has been living in Korea for over five years. Happily editing for VentureSquare and currently studying an MBA here in Seoul.

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