[Startup Interview] CEO Changhak Yeon of “Block Odyssey”, a company developing an integrated logistics platform using blockchain, data, and unique QR code technology

After graduating K-School and creating a Student Startup, CEO Changhak Yeon of Block Odyssey wishes to establish a Startup Learning Center to support startups by the younger generation. Block Odyssey is a logistics blockchain startup that develops the ‘Digital Signature Inserting QR Code’ technology to safely share data and creates an integrated logistics platform.

Let’s meet CEO Yeon of Block Odyssey!

Can you briefly introduce Block Odyssey?

Hello, we are Block Odyssey, a company building a logistics blockchain infrastructure. I started the company in 2017 Winter with 4 colleagues to innovate the logistics process through blockchain technology. We can bring various values by innovating the logistics process using blockchains, and the project we are focusing on is the “authentication solution”. This solution is becoming more widely used in areas like SCM solution and second-hand market solutions.

Authentication solutions can detect fake imported goods from China. Since fake products are prevalent in foreign markets, if the solution can detect such products at the logistics level, it will be able to prevent the activation of faked goods market.

Authentication solutions can detect fake imported goods from China. Since fake products are prevalent in foreign markets, if the solution can detect such products at the logistics level, it will be able to prevent the activation of faked goods market.

Our initial startup product was a completely different item from now. We were originally preparing pet-related item to resolve distorted information in the pet market. After looking for technology to overcome markets full of distorted information, we learned about blockchain technology and decided to utilize it in our business. While we were preparing the business, Initial Coin Offering (ICO) was a hot issue, so we prepared to issue tokens. As we researched blockchains more deeply, we decided not to proceed with ICO, and thought of businesses that does not utilize cribs, which was logistics. In addition, based on my experience with NFC-based authentication solution, I started this business with confidence that I could combine blockchain and QR code to create a more secure and cheaper authentication solution.

So this is an item that came up while looking for a business based on blockchain technology. Working experience comes handy when starting a business.

What is the difference between existing QR codes and Block Odyssey’s digital signature QR codes?

QR codes have recently been widely used to authenticate products and check information at distribution sites. Anyone can easily scan QR codes, but the low security that comes with it is a big disadvantage. To overcome this disadvantage, separate encryption or digital signature technology must be applied. However, applying encryption and digital signatures greatly increases the data capacity of QR codes. If digital signatures are applied to existing QR codes, standard QR code readers cannot read the codes, so a separate dedicated QR scanner is required. Block Odyssey solved this problem by developing a unique QR code with compression and encoding technology. Block Odyssey’s unique QR codes can also be read by standard QR scanners. Furthermore, scanning QR codes with our application will also show encrypted information, so we are using this as a marketing tool to induce app downloads.

Block Odyssey’s QR codes seem much more secure than existing QR codes! Is the exclusive QR scanner provided by Block Odyssey? Can we see the application developed by Block Odyssey?

An exclusive scanner can be used or QR code scanning feature can be implemented in each company’s application. Even when scanning the same QR code, different activities will be available for different applications. For example, if company A issues a QR code, customers who scan using a standard QR code scanner (e.g. Naver, Kakao) will only be able to see basic information like “This product is an original”. If customers want to get points or want to extend the A/S period, then they are encouraged to download the specific company’s application.

There are many fields that apply blockchain technology. Why did you specifically choose the distribution and logistics field, and what are some examples using the blockchain technology in the field?

As a person in the blockchain industry, I do not deny Crypto, but I thought issuing Crypto in the absence of solutions and a token ecosystem was against my belief. I first decided to create a blockchain-based solution, and to do this, a private blockchain that only authorized people can write and verify seemed more interesting than public blockchains. Since the logistics industry needed the sharing and connection of data between companies the most, we naturally selected the distribution and logistics sectors to start the business. Although logistics blockchain is at the beginning stage in Korea, various experiments and developments using blockchains are being carried out overseas, including the “TradeLens” project by IBM and Maersk, and the “Aura” project by LVMH and Microsoft.

Security seems to emerge as the main issue in the logistics field. Since overseas companies deal with security using blockchains, Korean companies should also do so. We hope domestic startups like Block Odyssey deal with security and leads the logistics sector.

How can blockchain technology provide open innovation on data sharing, when it is so highly secure? What will be the impact on the market in the future?

Data is the core of the fourth industrial revolution in the 21st century. Many companies are attempting digital transformation to make data-based decisions, and have been developing IoT and AI technology to collect and process data. However, large platform companies are monopolizing data, and the data gap between rich and poor phenomenon is accelerating. To compete with large companies, data exchange through collaboration between companies is necessary. The problem is that there was no reliable means for companies to share each other’s data. Blockchain is the most appropriate platform to solve this problem. Blockchain technology provides transparent data sharing and reward distribution. Through this technology, many companies will form alliances and joint business, which will be the opportunity to challenge large, powerful platforms.

In a data flooding era, the sharing of data seems to be important. If blockchains strengthens the security, it will lead to an Open Innovation where companies can safely and reliably share data. We hope Block Odyssey becomes the center and lead the collaboration processes in the logistics sector.

Block Odyssey currently mainly deals with B2B business. Do you have any plans to use this technology in the B2C field? If so, how will you implement it?

Block Odyssey’s blockchain logistics business endeavored to innovate the process from product manufacturing to consumer purchases. Now, we are trying to innovate the consumer-to-consumer transactions (secondhand) using blockchains. We are working to innovate the secondhand business using Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT) technology.

I never thought of utilizing blockchains in the secondhand market. Secondhand markets like ‘Carrot market’ are growing, and introducing blockchains might become complicated for consumers. A clear and safe system seems necessary for customers.

Blockchains is a hot issue worldwide. How is Block Odyssey’s blockchain technology different from others?

Existing logistics blockchain startups have mainly been using “Hyperleisure Fabric”, but this was considered inappropriate in logistics. On the other hand, Block Odyssey uses the new “Hyperledger Sawtooth”, which is more appropriate for the logistics platform. Sawtooth is a blockchain specialized for logistics/distribution led by Intel and Salesforce, and is a framework that enables infinite node expansion with speed. Block Odyssey is the only Korean company that has succeeded in commercializing Hyperledger sawtooth, and we have been recognized for our technology on the official website of Hyperledge, the world’s largest blockchain foundation.

Blockchains have been used in the logistics sector, but with a limit to the existing technology. The new blockchain technology Sawtooth developed by Block Odyssey seems more appropriate for logistics and distribution. We look forward to the commercialization of the Sawtooth technology in Korea. We hope Block Odyssey’s technology becomes widely used in the logistics industry.

What is the next item Block Odyssey is planning or developing?

Block Odyssey’s next goal is the finance field, such as the meat mortgage market. Meat importers trade hundreds of billions of units per import. As a result, meat collateral loans are not reliable due to frequent frauds, such as changing the manufactured place or deceiving the meat grades. To solve this problem, Block Odyssey is developing a reliable solution by putting small cameras and IoT chips in meat import containers to record the status and distribution stage of meat in blockchains. We are also developing a solution that can predict changes in meat in real-time with other AI startups, and plan to release this solution in the second half of 2021.

Using blockchains in the meat industry is very unique! Blockchains and IoT will be able to prevent fraud, and customers will be more relieved. Working with other AI startups will also affect the startup ecosystem. We hope the technology you mentioned prevents illegal distribution and preserves meat conditions for the customers.

You mentioned building a startup learning center at KAIST. Do you have any words to KAIST students?

Starting a business is hard and difficult. However, many people say that the next 10 years will be the peak season for startups. Traditional large corporations like Samsung and Hyundai, and new IT corporations like Naver, and Kakao are actively investing as well as cooperating with startups. More than 7 trillion won in venture funds are being invested in startups. In addition, there are many excellent government funded startup support programs like TIPS. If you are willing to express full potential and capabilities, there are many support and opportunities from the government, other businesses, and seniors. Challenge yourself with courage and confidence!

I hope many students become more interested in starting a business after reading this interview. In the future, startups, not large corporations, will impact and create a new world. In Korea as CEO Yeon mentioned, large corporations are investing in startups, and KAIST as well is investing in startup activation. Startup KAIST programs are only available when you are a student, so keep in mind!

What is Block Odyssey’s ultimate goal?

We want to organize the standard logistics blockchain in Korea. Realistically, I don’t think a single blockchain platform can govern the world’s logistics data. The logistics process and ecosystem in each country is different, so blockchain platforms representing each country will emerge. The data exchange between these blockchain platforms will become important in distribution and logistics between countries. Although are currently a small startup, we will develop into a logistics blockchain platform representing Korea, work with global logistics operators like Amazon, Alibaba, Rakuten, and also grow into a company that provides reliable data exchange in global trade.

Block Odyssey creates a logistics platform using new blockchain technology to improve the distribution and logistics process. Block Odyssey’s unique digital signature QR code technology will prevent fraud and guarantee safety in the logistics sector. We hope the company becomes the bridgehead to prevent forgeries and financial frauds in the current data era. We also look forward to CEO Yeon’s startup learning center at KAIST and his influence on younger students interested in startups.

This was CEO Changhak Yeon of “Block Odyssey”!