"WHEN IT comes to venture businesses, there are thousands of reasons to fail but a single one to be successful. This single reason is an endless effort not to fall behind the competition," says Kim Beom-jin (Sr., Dept. of Chemical & Biomolecular Engin.), a college student and founder of CIZION. He was not afraid to pursue his own dream of starting a venture company: CIZION. As a student CEO, he invented a program opening a new paradigm for cyber discussion in Korea and the world. The Yonsei Annals interviewed this bold man endeavoring to become a leading figure in the field of Internet commentary systems.
How I got to start a venture business
I always had the thought of starting my own business. As I was shocked to see celebrities commit suicide after being hurt by malicious comments on the Internet, I had a vague idea that I could do something to reduce the impact of Internet bullying. It was the fall semester of 2008 when my dream became focused while taking a course called Cyber Communication. This class was about how our society is influenced by the advent of communications in cyber space. After I was inspired by the class about how constructive online discussion systems could be built, I started to draw up the blueprint of the venture project with my friends. We have received sponsorship from Yonsei Technology Business Center since 2008 when our business plan was passed, and CIZION was registered as a legal corporation in January 2009. We began our business with just a small amount of capital, mostly our own money earned through tutoring. Yet, the biggest advantage of a technology-based venture company is that you can start your business if you are equipped with only an idea, PC, and space. Although the entry barrier for a technology-based venture company like CIZION is low, it needs capital to invest for further growth through R&D. Therefore, CIZION first developed a program which is a simpler version of LiveRe, in order to recoup the initial investment and to re-invest profits for upgrading the previous version.
How LiveRe came to life
From the research I participated in at Yonsei Cyber Communication Lab, I figured out that constructive online discussions could be the solution to resolve the various conflicts of Korean society such as social polarization, regionalism, or religious conflicts. LiveRe, the latest development of our company, is a platform* which can be installed on other press websites or individual blogs. It enables people to participate actively in cyber communication and prevents the potential production of abusive comments. People usually do not write comments after reading an article on Internet sites because it is annoying to register for all these websites. However, if LiveRe is installed, it lets people comment instantaneously, as users can log-on the website where they would like to write a comment with an ID they already have on famous Social Networking Service (SNS) such as Facebook and Twitter. Also, people writing comments through LiveRe can choose to bring their comments on their SNS. This option itself can "nudge" people to self-control abusive comments. As a result, the number of malicious comments will decrease because people care about their image portrayed through comments that are shown on their own SNS. Also, the mechanism of LiveRe prevents public opinion from falling into extremes as writing a comment becomes easier. Extremists log-in to express their opinion however annoying it is to log-in. People with moderate views will feel less troubled to write comments on the Internet if they can write a comment instantly by using LiveRe. Moreover, comments shared on the SNS can serve as an extended channel of sharing information of higher quality. That is because the information is chosen by users themselves, not found through "keyword searching."
*platform: a major piece of software under which various smaller application programs can be designed to run upon
CIZION - my source of pleasure
Even though starting a venture company is risky, I have never regretted founding CIZION. I feel rewarded, since I am satisfied with my life based upon my own free choices. When I first started CIZION, I was afraid that the work we were doing with my colleagues might not be worthwhile. But I was on cloud nine when our projects won awards in prestigious conventions such as the social venture contest held by the Ministry of Labor. It is even more rewarding when experts in the IT industry acknowledge our work as having not only economic value but also a social meaning. Though I need to register for extra semesters, and working as a CEO is sometimes more prioritized than my academic duties, I believe this is another great chance for learning. Moreover, I feel really great when I notice that our members and I are improving through challenging ourselves and experiencing numerous trials and errors.
Future plans as a CEO
There are ups and downs in life. Do not let temporary frustrations get you down. Also, no matter what kinds of field you work in, it is important that you bear in mind the goal to be the number one and be a person who will be remembered by history. Be someone that will be respected by others. Therefore, my short term objective is to popularize the LiveRe and to develop it in a more sophisticated way, but my ultimate goal is to be an entrepreneur who will be remembered by history.