Cookat is an influential brand that takes the lead in spreading food trends in Asia. The one-minute long cooking videos of various food recipes captivate the audience with appetizing clips and the latest styles of food-related contents. Furthermore, the brand has expanded in selling private brand products starting from the secondary company called Omukshop that has now merged as a new name called Cookat Market. These innovative ideas have been designed and put into reality by Lee Munju (’07, Psychology) since his twenties, starting from his college life. The Granite Tower (GT) has explored the efforts and life as a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a continuously developing company.
GT: What has been the most memorable experience from your college life at Korea University (KU)? How has that influenced you currently?
Lee: I have two most memorable activities from college life, and the first one is taking part in the musical club. Because the process of creating a musical is actually making something out of nothing, producing an entire musical has enabled me to gain a clear sense of purpose to achieve a goal. I also remember when we liaised for a sponsor of the musical and eventually could receive investment funds. These experiences actually became a great help in running a company since it is crucial to appeal to investors and convince others about our business.
Moreover, through the literary society of Business Administration that focuses on logistics service, I could gain experience that directly relates to the manufacture and distribution of goods. Such experiences all have relation to the current business, and it has influenced me in acquiring skills related to this field.
GT: Your initial dream was to become a musical actor, but why did your career change to starting a business?
Lee: Until my senior year in college, I was devoted to the field of musicals, but I gained self-consciousness especially when confronting economic circumstances. I became aware that it is realistically difficult to pursue the career in musicals, and had to look for another field of interest. During this period of time, I met my senior from my major who suggested an intern job at a venture company. Because the company has just been established, I had a lot of work to do as an intern, and at the same time I could gain more interest in business start-ups. The tasks of planning and organizing projects were captivating, and while going through the actual process, I wanted to pursue taking more relevant steps to starting a business.
▲ Provided by Cookat
GT: Which processes did you go through in the initial stages of establishing a company?
Lee: During my last year in college, I took a course named “Campus CEO” that focuses on business start-ups and the entrepreneurship process. Through this class, I was involved in planning a project with group members, which led to establishing Everybody’s Map that provides map services according to what a user requires. It was fairly successful as it could receive government-provided funds and procure investors.
GT: What were the difficulties and lessons you learned from your first business, Everybody’s Map?
Lee: Everybody’s Map was a very interesting item but it did not have a determined business model to make profit since it highly relied on the users itself. Therefore, receiving investment was essential, but there were difficulties to get funding in reality. There were financial difficulties, and the initial team also disbanded. Meanwhile, I had to strive for investments, and I cannot forget when I passionately prepared for a 5-minute speech to appeal for our business in order to attract investors. I worked hard to vitalize the business and eventually could succeed in getting funding. I could learn the importance of procuring a clear direction to run a business and to consider the most effective ways to deliver our line of work to others.
GT: What is the meaning of the company’s name Cookat and what does it represent?
Lee: Actually, there was another name in plan but since it was already used, we decided to combine the words cook and at that signifies cooking at a designated location and showing different kinds of cooking from various places. As pronouncing Cookat the way it is, it seemed to be highly relevant to the diction of cat, which led in deciding our brand’s representation image and mascot as a cat. In general, the name Cookat indicates a cooking cat as a compound word of cook and cat.
▲ Provided by Cookat
GT: Recently, there has been some changes in Cookat, so what are the transformations and expected effects of such changes?
Lee: First of all, Cookat has expanded in changing the platform of the secondary company Omukshop into Cookat Market. Moreover, the first offline store of our market has opened in Jamsil. I am also expecting cooperation with other major companies, and will broaden our contents for diverse age groups and single households so that products for a small serving may be available.
GT: What are your future dreams in regards to Cookat and yourself, Lee Munju?
Lee: As the CEO of Cookat, my goals are clear. I aim to deliver additional food contents to more viewers and keep on providing amusement with the theme related to food. I also expect to advance commercialization and continue to develop as Asia’s number one food company. On an individual basis, I would like to leave positive values in society that is meaningful in the entire community. Apart from expanding the company or gaining profit, I hope to leave worthwhile values in society.
▲ Provided by Cookat
GT: What advice would you like to give KU students?
Lee: I would like to suggest students to consider other directions that differentiate oneself from others. I understand that it is a difficult period for students, but in the midst of those moments, I believe it is important to develop one’s unique distinction. It is valuable to have special experiences and to personalize work that only one can do.