An Hye-rin is the CEO of Able House, which is a share house company. As a company that is getting attention, Able House is now collaborating with Hanyang University (HYU)’s exchange students.
Q. Since Korea is unfamiliar with the concept of a share house, can you explain what makes living in a share house so great for those who have the will to move in but are still worried?
A. The share house concept isn’t a completely new idea in Korea. Korea has had a boarding house culture for a while, where people live in someone else’s house with the owner. We can say that the share house concept is a slightly changed version of a traditional boarding house, following today’s trend and time. Nowadays, the repulsion of living with a stranger is decreasing and people are starting to become used to sharing their private space with each other. There are definitely some difficulties of living with a person that you have never met before. However, the reason people live with this inconvenience is because it is a lot of bang for the buck. With less amount of money, you can live in a bigger house with better quality. Additionally, at the end, you have someone by your side. The world has become a place where many are feeling lonely or afraid of living alone, and share housing solves this problem.
Q. You are a graduate of HYUʼs Department of Law. You have taken on a different career path than other law students. What motivated you to start this business?
A. I studied to become a lawyer and took law school exams just like any other law student. When I was studying in university, I specifically studied about urban conflict and real estate disputes. The relationship between space and economics was so fascinating to me and I studied more about this area. That was why after taking my last judicial examination in 2010, I started to run four share houses by myself: two near HYU and two near Seoul National University. This experience taught me the different sides of share housing and while commercializing this, Able House was found.
Q. As one of the many share houses out there, what are the special factors that only Able House has?
A. As mentioned, the best convenience is that you have someone who lives with you. But the difference that Able House holds is that this someone is not just a stranger. They are students from the same university. You and your roommates not only share the same school life but also the same living space. Additionally, Able House basically works as a private dorm. And the fact that these roommates can be foreigners is a special factor that Able House holds. By sharing different cultures and languages, both sides can benefit from each other. It is like experiencing life abroad and studying overseas while still living in Seoul.
Q. You have mentioned that space directly affecting peopleʼs lifestyles is the reason why residential environments have caught your attention. Then what kind of a space (such as the atmosphere and/or the interior) do you prefer?
A. After traveling to Finland, I became interested in European-style interior, because I loved the comfortable and peaceful feeling that it holds. The natural and modern vibe of the interior is aesthetically pleasing as well. This personal preference is also shown in my office and in the share houses. I have lived as a student for a long time. I know what they feel, what they want, and what they need. I try to keep the essentials, while making the space look good because there is nothing better than a good-looking house that you can comfortably live in.
Q. Do you have any big plans or aims ahead for the company or for yourself?
A. I have so many plans and dreams at the moment. First, I would love to extend this business as a media platform as Able Study, Able Magazine, and Able Building. I would also love to collaborate with different universities to provide better living areas for the students. As of now, we have already started on this goal by working with HYU to manage the share houses for exchange students. We want to extend further upon this by going to different countries, and to be specific, the countries in Asia.
Q. For those out there who are dreaming about starting their own business, do you have anything to say to them as a life senior?
A. Business is a continuous round of creating ideas, taking action, learning from your mistakes, and developing. Thus, I call business a synthetic art. To be honest, not everyone can become a founder of a company. Everyone has his or her strengths and weaknesses that allow them to be a good or bad CEO. However, a company does not operate by itself, since every member must take his or her part to achieve success. Therefore, I highly encourage you to start from being a part of a company and working your way up, which will help you to compass different perspectives in the future as a CEO. Being a CEO is hard and lonely, but the sense of accomplishment and expectations that you must meet will keep you going.