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SCC's Korean startups want to change the way you buy music, produce videos and educate your child

StartupsBlog
by Aatif Sulleyman
, 07 Dec 2012Blog
SCC's Korean startups want to change the way you buy music, produce videos and educate your child

PublStudio, a startup founded in April 2011 that became part of Smart Content Center (SCC) in June 2012, is another firm that specialises in educational services. It develops and distributes interactive and informative content for smart devices on Android and iOS, called G-Learning, aimed at children between the ages of three and 10.

I ask CEO Haewon Lee why, from the multitude of educational apps in existence both in Korea and worldwide, G-Learning stands a chance. He told me that his product appeals because it is neither a game nor a book, but a mixture of the two – edutainment. He is aware of the huge number of electronic learning services knocking around, though he reveals that many of his competitors have died out in recent months, due to a lack of flexibility and diversity.

PublStudio incorporate puzzles and mini games into child-friendly stories, one of which revolves around a young detective. Lee tells me there are a lot of Korean detective-based comics in existence, but they often contain scenes depicting blood and violence. Each new eBook takes two weeks to create from scratch.

Lee's goal is to manufacture a stress-free form of medium, in which parents appreciate the educational value and which children consider fun and leisurely. The subject matters covered by his products includes Maths and English, though scientific and "healing" topics will come through shortly. Once these products establish themselves on the market, PublStudio intends to create a social networking service (SNS) for children, through which the G-Learning apps will be fully accessible. Beyond this, Lee eventually wants G-Learning to be adopted into school courses.

PublStudio products are already popular with a number of private tutoring companies within Korea, which it has signed contracts with, due to its strong viral marketing strategies. The SCC has also helped Lee produce and circulate press releases. However, the company is finding it difficult to expand to international audiences – where the demand for eBooks is generally greater – due to a lack of resources.

Since receiving SCC's assistance, PublStudio's team brought in a host of new programmers and designers. The business has grown to such an extent that it needed to relocate to a larger office within the building.

Next, I chatted to Laurent Kim, vice president of Jam Story, the company behind PC-based video editor GReditor, which required two years to develop (with Kim's own money). The entire program contains an editor, composer, encoder and player. An OEM-produced jog shuttle keyboard (which was designed in-house) is also available for purchase.

Kim's view is that everybody should be able to express themselves through the production of creative video content with ease. Viewing and delivering movies is getting simpler by the day, thanks to television, YouTube and smartphones, but creating good content is still a confusing process, mastered by few, because of unreasonably complex editing suites.

GReditor is drastically different and startlingly straightforward. Typically advanced manoeuvres, such as Picture in Picture (PiP) functionality, altering video frame speeds and cropping are completed in a matter of seconds (and barely more clicks). To confirm its simplicity, Kim tells me that it has been implemented in 100 schools (extra-curricular), businesses and government organisations in Korea, and has reached 100,000 Koreans altogether – all without proper advertising campaigns, due to a lack of funding caused by a general reluctance to invest in software. GReditor is due to hit another 100 schools next year.

Kim says that 11-year-olds and above on average require a 30-minute tutorial before being able to use GReditor competently, while those younger tend to be more imaginative but need slightly more guidance. He has also produced a series of instructive manuals, targeted at people with different approaches.

Jam Story tried to introducing its product to the US, Japan and Indonesia, but has been unable to do so successfully simply because the processes involved – exportation, advertising and sales – are proving too expensive.

Kim is now devising a way to build his own social networking solution, called Social Video Producer. This will bring together a community of GReditor users, who will employ the platform in order to publish and gather movies and sell video content to each other. For example, a Korean content producer would be able to buy footage of Buckingham Palace from a Social Video Producer user based in London. Talks with angel investors are also underway.

Finally, it was time to interview Andrew Ryu, CEO of Pison Contents. His company provides an online third-party digital music distribution service, through partner company Music Spray.

Around 300 artists are now featured on Music Spray, which Ryu is proud of, though he is frustrated by his team's comparatively sluggish rate of growth. This is because it can be difficult to find potential employees with the desired combination of relevant qualifications, business acumen and ability to communicate with the artists themselves. Users need only make a one-time payment of $99 in order to gain access to unlimited music. Pison Contents is also an authorised iTunes and Amazon MP3 distributor.

Until recently, the vast majority of music featured on Pison Contents was that of upcoming indie bands but some more famous names, such as Si-won Ryu – a Korean wave artist – have come to the service. Ryu (Andrew) is hopeful that more such artists filter in, and eventually enable Pison Contents to go global. Ryu has already secured potential partners in France, Vietnam and the US, just in case, who would provide Pison with an Internet service platform.

Pison was one of the first companies to become a part of SCC, having joined in May. Aside from the customary free office space, business mentoring and help with recruitment and advertising, it has also received a recording studio, demonstrating how SCC can provide tailored help when necessary.

Pison Contents itself is providing as personal a service as it can, responding to each and every Facebook and Twitter message it receives quickly and individually. This extra effort creates a good buzz around the company, especially as positive social content is more often than not shared between friends and recommended. Ryu also wants to gain as much feedback from his artists as possible, in order to upgrade the service effectively next year.

The company has, to date attracted investments worth approximately £500,000 which, according to Ryu, is enough money to comfortably keep it running for two years.

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