▲ Photo of Kim Yun Hwan. Photographed by Kim Seung Hyun
About Kim Yun Hwan Kim is a KU graduate who is the founder and CEO of Taling, a talent sharing platform, through which ordinary citizens can become tutors to share their talents with others. Currently, approximately 15,000 people in the Korean society are using the platform with about 700 tutors providing various types of education. Taling won the outstanding award in the 2016 KU Business School Startup Express and thegrand prize in the 2016 Yes! Seoul Business Competition.
Nowadays, innovations of different entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates or Mike Zuckerburg, who pioneered new markets and changed society are common topics to talk about. Kim Yun Hwan (’13, Political Science and International Relations), a Korea University (KU) graduate, also came up with the idea of a talent sharing platform, and eventually became a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a business called Taling. Even though he already experienced success at the age of 28, he still has many goals to accomplish in his life. The Granite Tower (GT) met with Kim to hear the story of his life.
Why did you decide to enter university at the age of 24?
I actually went through college admission four times. Even though it was very challenging, I felt that if I cannot achieve my dream to enter college in my early 20s, I will not be able
to accomplish any goal in the future. I took my last college entrance exam when I was in the army, and was finally able to enter KU. The fact that I was older than most freshmen allowed me to not be influenced by how others live their lives. While most people tend to simply follow the path established by others, I was able to set up my own goals and the direction of college life starting from my freshman year.
▲ Various tutoring sessions matched by Taling. Provided by taling.me.
What was your most memorable extracurricular activity throughout your university experience?
I have many different ideas in my mind, so I have been interested in realizing those new ideas. One of my most memorable activities was making a body building club named “Muscle Monster” when I was a freshman. I enjoyed spending time in the gym back then, and I found that many of my friends were having hard times finding meaningful activities to enjoy during their leisure time. I therefore made the club to teach my friends about body building and to help them use their leisure time more effectively. Eventually, the club became very popular, so I was very proud of myself.
What motivated you to start Taling?
The body building club motivated me to come up with the idea of a talent sharing platform. As I taught my friends in the club, I felt that applying this method to other areas will definitely be possible. Most people invest a lot of money in private institutions to learn new things. However, if it becomes possible to share an individual’s talents, new value and utility will be created at a much cheaper price, and this seemed very efficient to me. Therefore, based on the structure of a sharing economy, I came up with the idea of a platform that connects tutors who are willing to share their talents with those interested in learning new things. I first created it as a team project in a business class, and as it became popular, I could initiate a real business with it.
When was the moment you felt most proud of yourself while working as the CEO for Taling?
I came by KU one day, and had a chance to go by the lobby of the Media Hall. Surprisingly, tutoring sessions matched by Taling were being held on about half of the tables there. I was very proud of myself to realize that Taling was actually helping out many people. Also, there are a few tutors who were able to find the paths that they want to pursue through Taling. For instance, one of our tutors had to give up her dream of working as a pilates teacher and was seeking for employment, but she could continue to pursue her dream through Taling. Every time I see these kinds of people, I feel proud that my business helped them rediscover their dreams.
▲ Kim winning the grand prize in the 2016 Yes! Seoul Business Competition. Provided by biz1.korea.ac.kr.
What kind of change do you want to bring to our society through your business?
Throughout my college life, I found out that most people live very similarly—seeking employment or preparing for civil service examinations, even though they all have different dreams and goals. I personally think that such phenomenon is the product of rapid economic development that occurred a few decades ago, and I want to change this social atmosphere. Through my business, I hope to contribute to the creation of a society where the diversity and talent of every individual can be embraced and appreciated.
What plans or goals do you have about your life in the future?
I personally want to enlarge Taling into a more socially approachable business. Currently, its service is targeted towards college students, but I hope it can be provided to others in the future because talent sharing is a universal concept that anyone can take part in. I have a dream of eventually creating a global enterprise with the concept of a sharing economy. Hopefully, Taling can become an influential business that is as large as Airbnb, a lodgment business that creates new value by forming a market with unused rooms.
Do you have any advice for KU students who dream to become successful entrepreneurs like you?
I think the media these days is exhibiting only the positive and hopeful aspects of business and entrepreneurship. What I experienced was the complete opposite, because everything should be newly pioneered from a zero-base when running a new business. I want to recommend future entrepreneurs to face up to the challenging reality of the business market
and begin their journeys in financially stable conditions. Even though the reality might be demanding, if you hold fast to your faith and conviction, you will eventually become a successful and socially influential entrepreneur.