Interview with Sungho Lee

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Small ideas bring big changes: Stationless bike share

In Brazil, 92% of taxi passengers do not put on seat belts. Warning signs and advertisements have not had any effect. But a very small idea has brought positive change and safety to Brazil’s taxi passengers. Taxis began providing free WiFi for passengers who wore seat belts. There is a student in Korea who is also changing the world through small ideas. Sungho Lee, the inventor of Bicircle, is the brains behind a small idea that serves the greater good.

“There is nothing more valuable than creating products that have a positive impact on people’s lives.”

Drawn to the world of entrepreneurship

Sungho Lee decided to start his own business after taking the Entrepreneurship and Venture Business course offered by the Department of Business and Technology Management. He found himself drawn to the entrepreneurial process, which allows him to make independent decisions and take responsibility for the results. He wanted to watch consumers’ reactions and constantly push himself to attain higher goals.

“I was drawn to the entrepreneurial process, which allows me to make decisions and take responsibility, and constantly push myself. These reasons were more than enough for me to launch my own company.”

Creating a small but big difference

From the perspective of users and operators, bicycle stations are inconvenient. Users have to return bicycles at their stations, and operators must transport bicycles when stations become full or empty. These are common experiences, but so far, no one has been able to resolve such inconveniences. Sungho Lee presented a simple idea which brings more convenience to users and operators. He decided to get rid of stations altogether. With this simple idea, he has brought more convenience to everyday life.

“I was inspired from the idea of car shares, and decided to develop a new bike share system without stations. Just by getting rid of stations, the system allows more convenient use of bicycles.”

Making use of opportunities for students

One factor that prevents students from becoming entrepreneurs is the lack of support. Funding is a critical requirement for securing a site to work, and develop novel technology. But while it may be more difficult for students to acquire funds, some opportunities are targeted directly at students. The Institute for Startup KAIST has a small meeting room open to student entrepreneurs, and the entrepreneurial program introduces students to mentors in the field.

“The entrepreneurial program taught me that it is more important to get user feedback than brainstorming at a desk alone. I also met mentors through the program. If not for them, we would still be stuck in the early stage.”

Maturing into entrepreneurs

“At first, I thought the most important thing in entrepreneurship was the business item. But after some time, I realized that teamwork is what matters.”

Sungho Lee’s stationless bike share has now been transferred to a medium-sized enterprise. Although the bike share was an idea that won a prize in the Chung Ju Yung Startup Competition, Sungho Lee does not feel that transferring it to another company was a waste. He is satisfied at having found the right company to add more value to his idea. The students, in their early 20s, now regards their teammates as valuable assets. Through the lessons learned by undertaking several business projects, Sungho Lee and his team have grown into mature entrepreneurs.

Adding value to everyday life

It is small ideas that change the world. Small ideas move the world in a better direction and add value to everyday life. Sungho Lee will continue to bring more convenience and value to the world through the materialization of small ideas. Because of young talents like Sungho Lee, Korea can expect a better tomorrow.

“There is nothing more valuable than creating products that have a positive impact on people’s lives. I hope to develop something that helps in the formation of healthy habits, so as to contribute to a more productive society.”

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