Dreaming of sharing via a phone call
S.Korea is currently experiencing a internet startup boom and the industry is characterized by a low barrier of entry and there is a relatively higher chance of expanding into a large enterprize if you have a workable idea and the right technology. It is an environment where many new social services startups have similar interfaces and working models but ‘Give’ shines with its vision of ‘cultivating the culture of giving back to society’ instead of aiming for commercial success unlike other startups.
Of course, some profits is still important. Like other startups, Give is also concerned with expansion of its services and profit making models. As a special category telecommunications operator, Give earns its revenue from the ‘call charges’ (3 won per minute, 1 won per 20 sec) when users call Givetalk. Givetalk operates by sending part of the call charges to specific charity organizations requested by the user, such as Good Neighbors and KOPI.
Although the amount seems trivial, it is similar to how telecom operators earn profits and there is a market for such a business model. The crucial part is to obtain the support and trust of users to ensure that this model will work. In order to achieve that, Give is currently in talks with the government of Incheon City and other charity organisations to form partnerships and also to obtain the support of artistes and other famous personalities. Not only that, Give is currently working on fine-tuning the quality of calls and other technical issues. (At the moment, Give has already obtained 3 patents, with 2 more in the process of approval).
Both CEO An Jong Cheol and CTO Kim Jun Ho have received doctorate degrees in communications and hence their technology is not lacking in any ways. The idea behind creating an avenue for giving back to society is also recommendable. The long term vision of Give is to come up with a whole range of application package relating to donations and giving back.
The strengths and weaknesses of such corporations
During the interview, I was hesitant about the fact that this is a ‘good-natured service’. This service has both the characteristics of a commercial product and also a non-commercial side where it aims to encourage a culture of donation. Without thinking too deeply, this seems like a strength of the service. The nature of the service makes people want to support it.
However, the most important factor in choosing a service is not about the good-naturedness of it. At the very least, Korea is not a society that has a strong ethical and moral purchasing culture. In other words, for a service to become a culture, there is a need for the service to be recognized in the first place. The service needs to be something that people would want to use or to be something that is useful. In that sense, Give is just taking its first step to really its goals.
All in all, I am positive about this enterprise’s future. This is because for those who view profit making as their only goal, they tend to get disappointed and give up easily when revenues do not match up to their expectation. However, for enterprises with a strong sense of social corporate responsibility, they tend to work hard and challenge themselves until they have reached their goals. And this is also because that I look forward to seeing the future that they will create – a society with a strong sense of the culture of giving back.