▲ Creaket chairman Yoon Ji Hyung. Photographed by Sohn Sumin.
“Symbiosis. That is the underlying belief that pulls us along,” declared Creaket’s chairman Yoon Ji Hyung (‘12, Environmental Science and Ecological Engineering). Creaket, a financial consulting club, is led by a compassionate sort of efficiency—the community benefits from its advice and its members benefit from the experience—and offers a very real chance to make a difference in others’ lives.
Creaket is a business-focused club; its name is as a portmanteau of the phrase “creative marketing and consulting.” It has been helping small businesses in Anam survive the wave of chain stores by offering consulting services free of charge since the club's birth in 2013. Creaket has since formally forged ties with Seongbuk-gu’s small enterprise committee, and offered its services to 12 stores in total. The club is to broaden its clientele to include all of Seongbuk-gu rather than just Anam by next semester or next year, and more interesting stories are sure to be added to its path.
Creaket begins every semester with recruitment, after which marketing education commences in the form of study sessions, presentations, and personal tasks. Education ceases around midterms, and candidates are selected by from small enterprises in Anam. Field work begins after exams come to an end. Because Creaket is not yet listed in Korea University’s (KU) central clubs, meetings are usually held in large spaces such as Hyundai Motor Business Hall or Science Library rather than a set room. These meetings are held at 7:00 P.M. every Thursday.
Having the opportunity to influence how a business is run is an exciting prospect, but preparation for it can be just as stimulating. Members first learn basic theories of marketing to prepare for later projects. Before actual face-toface consulting can begin, they get to analyze a corporation of their choosing, by utilizing everything they have learned. Competitive presentation (PT) comes afterward, where members are split into two teams to select a store and consult with its owner to come up with a strategy to improve business. This they present to the club later. Outside resources are utilized as well during training. An employee from E-Land group Strategic Intelligence (ESI) has given a lecture on marketing last August, and a session on mobile marketing hosted by a Creaket alumnus is to be held soon.
Once all this is done, the central project begins and members choose one enterprise to help. It should be noted that this is a task separate from Competitive PT. Creaket usually focuses on clothing shops, food businesses and cafes; establishments linked with gambling and other less-than-wholesome activities are not eligible, and businesses in need of help take priority over those Creaket is familiar with. Work begins with a call to the owner, and a discussion of the shop’s current state. With consistent feedback from Creaket’s client, a marketing plan is formed and implemented, and members return during vacation or the next semester for follow-up.
▲ A Creaket meeting in session. Provided by facebook.com/creaket
The process is not always an easy one because some owners are reluctant to work with a student club. “We got rejected pretty often in the early stages of field work, even after letting the owners know we work for free. It was not a pleasant experience, but it made me focus more on how to improve ourselves, how to go beyond just looking trustworthy and become an entity truly worthy of trust,” said Yoon. Even those who accept Creaket’s help can harbor uncertainties at the start, as the owner of Café Daniel did two years ago, but the club members’ advice has not been found wanting. The identity Creaket devised for it, a “study café” and gathering place for foreign students, effectively kept the shop on the map; seminars are held and KU’s music clubs come to hold performances there.
The club does not require members to have prior knowledge of marketing or financial consulting, though its activities important benefits regardless of major. Creaket member Park Si Eun (15, Business Administration) spoke of the hands-on experience gained in the club leading to a greater understanding of her major; Yoon recounted how he grew to approach problems from different angles and be more prepared while handling the ups and downs of field work. The talks with clients can also foster a sense of compassion. “When we met with the owner of a pizza place around Anam, he actually shed some tears confessing his business was in trouble. After something like that, you really want to do your best to help your clients out,” Yoon recounted.
No club is complete without some recreation, which for Creaket comes in the form of Membership Training (MT), mostly done early in the semester, and a day out together a few weeks after that. Members from older classes are randomly matched with new recruits to treat them to lunch and get to know each other better. “Members in the mood for a drink can invite people out after sessions, too. No pressure to attend, since our golden rule is that anything is possible as long as we do our jobs well and not bother anyone else,” explained Yoon. Each class only having about six or seven members also contributes to the bond Creaket members share.
Because members are expected and encouraged to make an impact on the world, would-be Creaketeers would do well to possess three things—creativity, responsibility, and passion. It takes ingenuity to help a business recover, and one needs to love one’s work as it will require cooperation. Commitment and responsibility go hand in hand; Park mentioned dedication as one of the most admirable traits of Creaket members.
In the words of the two Creaketeers, a year in Creaket can be a gift—for its members as well as Seongbuk-gu itself. The bonds forged and the skills earned, through learning and setbacks alike, will last a lifetime.
Recruitment Period: March (spring semester), September (fall semester)