[Startups] Heart and sole: 3rd generation family shoemaker intent on changing industry - The Korea Times
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[Startups] Heart and sole: 3rd generation family shoemaker intent on changing industry


Deep within startups lies the passion of their founders who challenged their rivals and dreamt of influencing people's lives. From the perspective of the CEOs, running their companies can be adventurous, obnoxious, thrilling or triumphant.

Among them are young and talented individuals who took up the challenge. And they might not realize that their fledgling careers can inspire those wondering what the entrepreneurs are like outside the workplace, what they usually think off-duty and how their businesses will shape their lives.

Because we understand such a personal realm can mean a meaningful impact for many, The Korea Times has started "10 Questions for Startup CEOs," a relay interview series for those aspiring figures. The interviewees are selected by their antecedents. Think of this as the "ice bucket challenge" without ice buckets. ― ED.

ShoeLab offers customized shoes for men and women and supports shoe suppliers with product planning, production management and quality control. Courtesy of ShoeLab
ShoeLab offers customized shoes for men and women and supports shoe suppliers with product planning, production management and quality control. Courtesy of ShoeLab

1. MY COMPANY DOES

We are a "shoe platform," linking demand ― whether for one pair of feet or 10,000 ― to supply. Through "supply relationship management" of the existing shoe manufacturers' surplus capacity, we provide customized Mansole shoes for men and Soleabout shoes for women in B2C (business-to-consumer) retail business; product planning, production management and quality control for numerous shoe brands/suppliers in B2B (business-to-business) supply chain management.

2. WHAT I DO OUTSIDE THE OFFICE

Sparing free time is a luxury for the current ecosystem's "game changer" like myself. But whenever I have some time, I do photography, build LEGO and Gundam or read books.

3. MEMORABLE MOVIES OR BOOKS

"Originals" by Adam Grant. It taught me how to fill the gap between the existing industries' innovating technologies and the trends as a startup.
"Principles" by Ray Dalio. It helped me build different "work frames" for a new ecosystem.
"Platform Revolution" by Geoffrey Parker, Marshall Van Alstyne and Sangeet Paul Choudary. It helped me a lot to build my business as a more active platform.

4. WHAT GOT ME INTO STARTUP

I am the third generation of my family in the shoemaking business. Having witnessed the industry's value chain closely, I realized that this traditional industry has remained almost unchanged for a long time and thus created certain problems. I thought tackling those problems would bring a huge opportunity to turn the table around. So I decided to do startup.

5. PROSPECT FOR MY INDUSTRY

Korea's shoemaking industry has definitely grown outwardly. But within the local market, Korean players have been losing competitiveness a lot. This, however, could be a segue for another big opportunity. ShoeLab is shaping up as such an opportunity.

Mansole, ShoeLab's customized shoe brand for men, has a dedicated space for clients. Courtesy of ShoeLab
Mansole, ShoeLab's customized shoe brand for men, has a dedicated space for clients. Courtesy of ShoeLab

6. UPSET AT WORK RECENTLY?

It's all bound by people. There was one time when a tiny misunderstanding had driven me to an emotional conflict with another person, with irrevocable severity. That was totally not what I had originally intended.

7. I WARN MYSELF MOST FROM...

Again, people. It's what we should be close to and, at the same time, watch out for.

8. ADVICE TO ME

You worked hard today but that's OK because tomorrow will be harder!
Hang on! Getting tired means you are growing, like a trekker getting nearer to a mountain top.

9. IF MY COMPANY WENT BANKRUPT

Ideally, I would take off to somewhere with the most important person in my life. Realistically, I would re-venture another startup to change the existing ecosystem with a different method.

10. MY EPITAPH

Here lies a person who changed the world's shoemaking ecosystem.


Park Ki-bum was designated by n.thing CEO Leo Kim



Deep within startups lies the passion of their founders who challenged their rivals and dreamt of influencing people's lives. From the perspective of the CEOs, running their companies can be adventurous, obnoxious, thrilling or triumphant.

Among them are young and talented individuals who took up the challenge. And they might not realize that their fledgling careers can inspire those wondering what the entrepreneurs are like outside the workplace, what they usually think off-duty and how their businesses will shape their lives.

Because we understand such a personal realm can mean a meaningful impact for many, The Korea Times has started "10 Questions for Startup CEOs," a relay interview series for those aspiring figures. The interviewees are selected by their antecedents. Think of this as the "ice bucket challenge" without ice buckets. ― ED.

ShoeLab offers customized shoes for men and women and supports shoe suppliers with product planning, production management and quality control. Courtesy of ShoeLab
ShoeLab offers customized shoes for men and women and supports shoe suppliers with product planning, production management and quality control. Courtesy of ShoeLab

1. MY COMPANY DOES

We are a "shoe platform," linking demand ― whether for one pair of feet or 10,000 ― to supply. Through "supply relationship management" of the existing shoe manufacturers' surplus capacity, we provide customized Mansole shoes for men and Soleabout shoes for women in B2C (business-to-consumer) retail business; product planning, production management and quality control for numerous shoe brands/suppliers in B2B (business-to-business) supply chain management.

2. WHAT I DO OUTSIDE THE OFFICE

Sparing free time is a luxury for the current ecosystem's "game changer" like myself. But whenever I have some time, I do photography, build LEGO and Gundam or read books.

3. MEMORABLE MOVIES OR BOOKS

"Originals" by Adam Grant. It taught me how to fill the gap between the existing industries' innovating technologies and the trends as a startup.
"Principles" by Ray Dalio. It helped me build different "work frames" for a new ecosystem.
"Platform Revolution" by Geoffrey Parker, Marshall Van Alstyne and Sangeet Paul Choudary. It helped me a lot to build my business as a more active platform.

4. WHAT GOT ME INTO STARTUP

I am the third generation of my family in the shoemaking business. Having witnessed the industry's value chain closely, I realized that this traditional industry has remained almost unchanged for a long time and thus created certain problems. I thought tackling those problems would bring a huge opportunity to turn the table around. So I decided to do startup.

5. PROSPECT FOR MY INDUSTRY

Korea's shoemaking industry has definitely grown outwardly. But within the local market, Korean players have been losing competitiveness a lot. This, however, could be a segue for another big opportunity. ShoeLab is shaping up as such an opportunity.

Mansole, ShoeLab's customized shoe brand for men, has a dedicated space for clients. Courtesy of ShoeLab
Mansole, ShoeLab's customized shoe brand for men, has a dedicated space for clients. Courtesy of ShoeLab

6. UPSET AT WORK RECENTLY?

It's all bound by people. There was one time when a tiny misunderstanding had driven me to an emotional conflict with another person, with irrevocable severity. That was totally not what I had originally intended.

7. I WARN MYSELF MOST FROM...

Again, people. It's what we should be close to and, at the same time, watch out for.

8. ADVICE TO ME

You worked hard today but that's OK because tomorrow will be harder!
Hang on! Getting tired means you are growing, like a trekker getting nearer to a mountain top.

9. IF MY COMPANY WENT BANKRUPT

Ideally, I would take off to somewhere with the most important person in my life. Realistically, I would re-venture another startup to change the existing ecosystem with a different method.

10. MY EPITAPH

Here lies a person who changed the world's shoemaking ecosystem.


Park Ki-bum was designated by n.thing CEO Leo Kim


Ko Dong-hwan aoshima11@koreatimes.co.kr

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