We could meet Yongseong Shin, the CEO of an online marketing portal service company 'i-boss' with a name sounding like an IT-company, for one month at J-Space. He wasn't well off when he was young and he involuntarily considered starting his own company. He gave a lot of thought how to increase the number of the winners in a startup market where now there is only one winner. From there, he founded 'i-boss' from the concept of 'defining one's own market and be the boss'. Since then, the boss of 'i-boss', Yongseong Shin he has been running the business for more than 15 years. I was curious what made him decide to come to Jeju on April's stay support program, leaving the staff and family behind in Seoul.
Yongseong Shin (hereinafter Boss): Firstly, I can get around most freely (because I am the CEO). In fact, many CEOs of growing companies have to work hands on, but because we have been running quite many years and have the set structure, so I don't have to do the hands-on work (laugh). That's why I can get around freely. On the other hand, it is good for the CEO to actually see and feel to be sure, so I decided to come myself.
J-Space: Among the businesses you are working on, you seeked for a possibility if you would be able to do education and marketing agency in Jeju, and you wanted to do a market research as to how merchants in Jeju are marketing their business, which is why you applied for Jeju stay support program. You had a purpose of expanding your business. How was your remote work experience in Jeju away from your Seoul office?
Boss: I came to think about applying my work patterns and scheduling in Jeju to the Seoul office. For example, in Seoul, the day passes by so quickly talking and working with our staff. Then, I am left with not much time to focus. Even when I try to plan something in my office room, our staff keep coming to me (laugh). That made me feel a little bit exhausted, but in Jeju, I have been in an independent, well, rather than 'independent', a space away from the staff, so I could focus on my work. So, I actually worked more in Jeju. I was just going to have fun! You know, the staff can plan small projects, but the CEO should plan the big ones. So, I'm thinking I might be a 'digital nomad in Seoul'.
J-Space: During your stay, you often ate with other participants here. Did you get any special inspiration for your big planning (laugh)?
Boss: There's nothing much like that, to be honest. I haven't got any special inspiration for my planning, but there are so many people from startups, so I was motivated to look back on my original resolution and be more passionate about my work. I think the 'different space' gave me the biggest inspiration. Where no one knows me. Actually, one i-boss member makes furniture, but in winter, he comes down to Jeju to pick tangerines at his father's farm and sell them on the Internet. He often travels between Seoul and Jeju. When he runs out of ideas, then he comes to Jeju and work better. After one month in Jeju, he feels a bit lazy, then he goes back to Seoul. He said it's efficient to move back and forth like this and I can understand it now. I am considering letting our staff participate in this stay support program from June. It's already a bit late for May.
<Yongseong Shin, the CEO of i-boss, spent a month in Jeju on April's stay support program by J-CCEI.
What is he planning in the stay support zone without independent space or a cubicle?>
J-Space: Do you have any intention to apply remote work system to i-boss in a long-term?
Boss: We are a bit different. We already have a 'responsible work' system and there is no set office hours. So, we don't check in and out with fingerprints. There is no concept of being late, half day off or leaving early. All of them decide when to come and when to leave. Despite this, it is difficult for us to adopt a complete remote work system because we operate on a team basis and different teams need to cooperate each other. If one of the team members inevitably has to work home for a day, then it is okay. But, a complete remote work structure would harm the synergy, so, we are not doing it. Our work is marketing and online marketing has a vast range of fields. One team is specialized in keyword advertisement, another in SNS advertisement, still another in strategy or the other in analysis. They cover all the areas, but with different focus. The advertiser wants an integrated service, so they often have been working with one team, but then ask another team about something. Then, we gather and share information, ask and learn from each other. This is our culture and remote work doesn't necessarily fit.
But still, it's worth giving it a meaningful consideration. Now that industries are moving from analog to digital, data is the most important thing. And the demand for data keeps getting subdivided. The data should come from all over the world and eventually, the industry will gradually take the form of local individuals collecting data and companies processing and restructuring such collected data in a meaningful way. In that sense, remote work corresponds well to this changing industry trend. So, I think it is good. The business model should be suitable for it to work. Companies have their existing business models. So, I think it's not appropriate to tell them to adopt remote work because remote work is good. Rather, the right approach would be that a new business environment is forming and this model goes along well, so you'd better not hold on to your existing business model.
J-Space: We should reflect your point to our business plans. What did you think about i-boss staff's stay on this program in June?
Boss: We have some staff managing advertisements. They focus only on the advertisement management itself. There are analysis team and development team as well. So, I'm thinking of asking them for application, but I'm not sure yet if they can actually come. I want to open their ways and give them more options.
J-Space: It sounds like ordering tangsuyuk first instead of jajangmyeon in a Chinese restaurant. I heard you have the goal that all the employees become independent and run their own business.
Boss: Yes. Though not everyone because each person has different personality. The ones who wants to be independent do as they want and the others who wants to stay as an instructor, an executive or an expert do as they want. Some people don't like to take responsibilities. Some people are very competent, but don't like to lead others because it is bothersome. So, my goal with those people is to make them an expert, an instructor, an executive or even an independent CEO of a company that has been spun off. So, I define my company as a platform. Many misunderstood it as an IT company.
<When asked the place he likes in J-Space, J-CCEI Co-working Space,
he just chose the cafeteria. Click! Yongseong Shin, who looks good in a fleece>
A platform where every employee can grow and become independent! The name 'i-boss' is indeed suitable. He did not forget to say thank you that he met so many nice people. Yongseong Shin suggested that Jeju stay support program should continue and there should be a chief participant for each program session.
*The above script has been slightly modified from the original interview for readability and the order of interview has been reorganized while we try to maintain Interviewee's original words and intention as much as possible.
Contact of <i-boss> Yongseong Shin
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