SG Seoul: The Fastest Growing Food Delivery Startup in Korea



Startup Grind Seoul hosted its tenth event at Maru180 on May 13th. It was hosted in Korean, led by Youngeun Yang. Our guest was Mr. Bongjin Kim, CEO and Co-Founder of Woowa Brothers.


Woowa Brothers is the company that runs “Baedal Minjok,” which is the dominating app-based food delivery service in Korea. Our fireside chat that night was very unique in that he was the first entrepreneur that identified himself as a designer. Therefore, he was able to give us a very unique point of view gave us into how he succeeded in a startup world with a designer’s mind.

We had the honor of speaking to Bongjin for quite a while so we were able to ask him a lot of questions. His responses were so down to earth and humorous that we would like to post this month’s blog as a Q&A style.

Startup Grind (abbreviated SUG below): How did you start Baedal Minjok?

Bongjin: Actually, it just started off as kind of a toy project, like Facebook. I was already working at another company. I guess if I started the project more seriously, we would not have the type of BI that we have now. Even for the name of our service, we came up with it in about 10 seconds. However, we did not think it was fitting for the name of the company, so we named ourselves as Woowa Brothers. Similar names were trending at the time. I like to be inspired by the small and interesting, perhaps mundane to others, things in life.

SUG: Were there any difficulties in recruiting talent in your initial stages?

Bongjin: I think it is a common misconception to recruit the most competent people from the beginning. You have to find people that you can grow with. Take our CFO for example. He is the one who taught me how to smoke in middle school. In fact, most of our founding members were found around me – brother, colleague from work, friends from home. We were not the most excellent people in the field but as we worked hard, faced obstacles and figured out solutions, we were able to grow quickly.

SUG: Why do you think your service is so popular?

Bongjin: There are two reasons: design and marketing. We really thought about who our user was. There are so many people who have their food delivered. In Korea, however, it’s customary for the “maknae,” or the youngest to order. We thought about what kind of design language they like so we benchmarked Infinity Challenge and Ssamzie. One of the main characteristics of our design is our typgography. We developed unique fonts that showed our identity. The reason why we opened it up to the public is because we wanted to make our small company known. Thankfully, it has been received very well and we are continuing to create new fonts.

SUG: What is unique about the corporate culture at Baedal?

Bongjin: We wanted to create a company that promotes a happy life. A happy life is when you are surrounded by happy people. It has to be from each other rather than unilaterally from the company to the employee. That is why we have a People Team, who really think about how to make the employees happy and feel apprhciated. For example, we run a program that notifies the employees and their bosses that it is the birthday of their loved ones (self, family, in-laws) so they can get off work at 4PM and spend time with them. Our employees love this program. Frankly, the best part is that it is free.

SUG: We realize your app was launched two months after Baedaltong. Were there any difficulties being a late mover?

Bongjin: We had been working on our service for quite a while but our launch date ended up being two months later. In the end, it is those small differences that matter. Startup is a business, not an invention, meaning it is not about who has the initial idea but who manages the service persistently.

SUG: How many of the initial partners are left?

Bongjin: Out of six that we started, we have three. It is difficult to go all the way with the starting members. Since everyone has a different goal or motivation, I think it is important to talk about the timing and method of each person’s exit strategy from the beginning. In this way, we can expect and make provisions without any hard feelings. Another common mistake that I see is trying to set up all of the C-levels from the start. There comes a time when you need to hire an expert but if you have all of the C-levels set already, it is difficult to hire someone with a higher competency.

It was a really great fireside chat that night not only because all of the helpful tips and insight but also because of down to earth and soft charisma. By the end, everyone wanted to work at Baedal Minjok! We want to thank you again, Mr. Bongjin Kim, for your time and unique insight as a designer in the startup world. Thank you to our sponsors (The Asan Nanum Foundation, SparkLabs, Samsung, Yuyu Pharma) and to our partners (Whatap, MangoPlate and Limotaxi)!

Our next event will be at our usual location, Maru180, on June 18th. Our next guest speaker will be Mr. Simon Lee, Founder of Flitto, a crowdsourcing platform that allows users to translate and request accurate translations of over 17 different languages. Please sign up quickly!


About the Writer

Joon Oh is the Chief Strategy Officer at MangoPlate and the Startup Grind Chapter Director Seoul.  Prior to MangoPlate, Joon led the Global Partnership Group at Samsung Electronics in Korea, where he led deals with global companies like Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, Bloomberg, ESPN, Accuweather, and many others.  Joon also worked as a corporate / digital strategist at HP in Palo Alto, and as a management consultant at Monitor, BCG, and PwC.  He has a B.A. in Economics, East Asian Studies, Masters in Computer Science, and an MBA from the University of Chicago. @joonoh0308



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