Shawn Byun is still a university student, but that hasn’t stopped him from becoming the co-founder of two companies in different countries. Born in Korea, but raised in Indonesia, Byun came back to Korea in 2007 to study and is now a senior at Seoul National University majoring in Business Administration.
Despite his studies, Byun has managed to co-found two companies within the last year. Tangible Idea is based in Korea and was co-founded together with a classmate at his university. Earlier this year the company released the mentoring service MEEPLE. (More information about Tangible Idea can be found here). His other venture is based in Jakarta, Indonesia and is named Gobann.
Gobann is a market place for microjobs where users can sell their talents for a price of 50,000 rupiah, equal to around 6,000won in Korea. These talents might include things such as a DJ who is willing to create a mixed playlist of the latest house music for users, and through this earns money while utilizing his talent. While Byun says that there are similar services on the market, Gobann plans to differentiate from the other microjob sites.
“Most competitors tend to imitate the already well-known venture, Fiverr, by focusing on the services or ideas that the sellers are able or willing to provide. However, Gobann differs as it will focus both on the buyers and sellers.”
Gobann will allow users to post their needs as well as view the talents of sellers, making it easy for both types of users to achieve their objective. The payment system will also be set up so users can make purchases as easily as possible through Paypal, T-Cash and other widely used payment methods in Indonesia.
“Gobann will serve both the supply and demand forces of the marketplace equally, and will implement Indonesia’s first “Live demand feed” for creative services. Creativity is underrated, and so is talent. We aspire to showcase the various talents hidden throughout Indonesia for everyone to share in a single and convenient online platform.”
Gobann plans to launch in April with a web based platform and a mobile application to follow soon after. In the long term Byun says that they would like to expand to neighbouring countries such as Singappore and Malysia and eventually target the whole Asia region through the mobile app. So far the company has been self funded but will look to investment opportunities after the launch.
Recently Gobann was selected as one of the top 16 startups at Echelon Satellite’s Jakarta event.
The Experience of Two Startup Communities
Like Tangible Idea, Gobann was also founded through close relationships, one of the co-founders being a classmate from Byun’s high school, and another an acquaintance he met in the gaming community during middle school. Byun counts himself lucky that he had someone to guide him through starting a business.
“I am fortunate enough to have a mentor who’s already a successful webpreneur in the Indonesian startup community. He has shared his insights and knowledge in this particular field and I wanted to examine my ability and perhaps learn through trial and error along the course.”
With the experience of working in two different startup communities, Byun noticed a couple of main differences in regards to ventures, pointing out that Korea seems to offer a lot of support though ways of government grants and low interest loans, whereas the Indonesian government does not support startups as much. He also found that Korean startups tended to be more creative and original, whereas in Indonesia there tends to be a lot of ideas that are not necessarily new, with a lot of clones.
Byun always spoke Korean with his father while growing up and was involved with some of the ex-pat community in Indonesia. Having come to Korea to study, Byun now spends most of his time here but keeps track of things in both countries using technology.
I fly back to Jakarta, Indonesia whenever time permits. Specifically, twice a year during summer and winter holidays. For Gobann, we do have weekly meetings over Skype. Emails are also used regularly usually to keep the team members in the loop. Additionally, I hold a blackberry for ease of communication. When it comes to working remotely, the most important factor is ease of communication.”