In a late surge of interest in start-ups, an increasing number of undergraduates now consider a new, fresh, yet unknown and sometimes risky option when it comes to choosing a career path: starting a business. Despite of glittering success stories and pulses of adventures start-ups promise, students’ concerns and worries are never rootless. However, there could be a variety of ways to raise awareness, increase familiarity and get a glimpse of what a start-up is. In fact, the University of Seoul (UOS) is in, by all means, good support of such attempts. With a number of questions in mind, The UOS Times has met up with Yoo Jun-sung, the vice president of Rabbit Foot to find out all about the club.
Can you briefly introduce Rabbit Foot?
Rabbit Foot is a start-up club which gathered members with an objective. Our club was established in 2017 and has 46 members. Members form a team consisting of two to five people surrounding a business idea. Each team develops its idea in order to make real outputs. The executive team coordinates the process of development and gives advice to each team. If a team’s project fails, team members search for a new idea or join other teams.
How does Rabbit Foot work?
Basically, the members of Rabbit Foot run activities autonomously. Students can join our club anytime and there is no time limit for a project. However, starting from this year, we plan to recruit new members for a specific period of time in order to systematically manage the club. Also, seniors of the club teach the newcomers about start-up development at the beginning of the semester so that they can start a project using the knowledge acquired from the education. Besides this education program, the team members also give them help and support throughout the project. Also, depending on the team’s situation, the teams participate in competitions.
Were there any successful projects which led to the actual establishment of a start-up?
Actually, we do not have any projects which successfully became an actual business yet, but we had few projects which came close to it. So, I can introduce those two projects that were acknowledged for their possibilities, got many rewards, and were very got close to becoming actual businesses: Make Dot and For Egg. Make Dot produced a braille printer for the visually impaired. This printer can connect to an application on a smart phone, allowing you to print something through voice recognition. This product was considered marketable and even received a ministerial award. Also, the business called For Egg matched Youtubers who wanted a partner. It originally started from providing broadcast equipment to YouTubers who couldn’t afford to get necessary equipment. But there were already too many companies existing in that field. So, they changed their concept and it fitted with the market. It made an actual profit and won several prizes as well.
How does the UOS Startup Support Organization aid Rabbit Foot?
The Startup Support Organization supports Rabbit Foot in three ways. First, they provide financial aid. 1.7 million KRW is given as financial aid for a selected business item. Second, they also provide space for start-up clubs inside the campus. On the second floor of the Centennial Memorial Hall, there is a room called start-up lounge, which is free space for meetings for start-up clubs. Third, they offer scholarships and various programs for the start-up clubs, such as mentoring programs, lectures, and China visiting programs.
What is the short- and long-term goal of Rabbit Foot?
There are two short term goals. I wish our teams produce more positive results such as earning higher revenue and awards from start-up competitions. Also, I wish that our members experience personal growth within the process of a project.
For a long-term goal, I aspire to develop Rabbit Foot into a start-up accelerator company. If our club is able to generate a couple of successful businesses, we could establish a network within our club. This would allow Rabbit Foot to function as an accelerator company. Even though we are merely a school club at the moment, this is our grand goal.
How is Rabbit Foot different from other UOS start-up clubs?
The biggest differences are that our club operates various projects (eight projects at the moment) at once. Other start-up clubs have only one item or one project at a time, and everyone has to focus on that project only. We have eight different projects, each consisting of two to five members, operating simultaneously. This characteristic makes Rabbit Foot the best start-up club, especially for beginners. Other clubs only need people that can contribute to the existing project. They are usually not keen on accepting newbies. However, because Rabbit Foot operates various projects at once, we they are open to anyone. Therefore, people who are interested but does not have a companion to begin a start-up or even those who are oblivious about starting a business are all welcomed at Rabbit Foot.
How does the club support the projects?
We receive a subsidy from the SK Lookie program. 2 million KRW is given for club operation expenses, and additional funding (up to 2 million KRW) is given for each business model presented. This subsidy is spread to projects which did not receive funding from the Startup Support Organization. Also, we offer help to teams that struggle by assigning an experienced mentor to them or by giving thorough feedback on the project until they are able to work by themselves.
Although the club has short history, it has been run with a delicate system and solid passion towards innovation to transpire ideas into actions. Becoming a pioneer in any field is deemed never an easy step. Readers are well recommended to find out more about the club and visit the club located at the start-up lounge on the 2nd floor of the Centennial Memorial Hall. Its location alone signifies the openness and creativity of the club, but that would be just a glimpse of it.