Pikicast is a Social Networking Service application that includes daily news, webtoons, videos, and more. Over 1.7 million people in Korea use this application, and it is working its way up to become one of the many national content applications. It was first introduced to the public in 2014, and with its unique and diverse content, it continues to be loved by many people regardless of gender or age. We had a chance to talk with the CEO of Pikicast, Suk Ju-wan and listened to his thoughts on Pikicast.
The Start of Pikicast
Q. Before going in-depth about Pikicast, how did you end up where you are today as a CEO of Pikicast?
A. The first company that I worked for was Samsung SDS. Then, I acquired an MBA from the U.S. and came back to Korea and got a job in NH Investment Security. After that, I moved on to the gaming industry and now I am here at Pikicast. When I first went into Samsung, I did not know what I wanted to do. It was rather just that I wanted to enter a big company and become successful there. However, my experiences in the U.S. really awakened my inner dreams of what I was actually interested in and what I really wanted to do. So, I tried and am still trying to do the things that I want and that I am capable of doing.
Q. Pikicast’s work environment seems very different to average South Korean companies, as it appears to be very free. What do you think are the advantages of this kind of workplace environment?
A. Of course, the main advantage is freedom. Pikicast is a company that is all about creativity and communication. The freedom given in the workplace definitely brings a comfortable vibe full of creativity. However, one thing we should keep in mind is that this freedom should not be abused as if it is free time.
Q. The appellation ‘editor’ is usually used in jobs in magazines and is very uncommon for mobile app companies to use this title with their staff members. Is there any specific reason why Pikicast editors are called ‘editors’?
A. The role of an ‘editor’ is basically based on collecting information, analyzing it, and creating new content out of it. I guess it is not a title that is usually given to someone who works in the mobile application industry, but that is what our Pikicast members do and they are professionals.
Q. As the representative manager that runs Pikicast, do you have a goal in regards to managing, and do you have a model company that you, as a CEO, would want to learn and emulate?
A. The main goal for Pikicast is to keep up with the current trend and its changes while holding on to the fundamental essence of Pikicast. And since we are comparatively a smaller company than others, we have no problem with this because we easily communicate and stay on track with the trend. However, one thing that I would want to emulate from other companies is the skills they have gained over time. Pikicast is still developing and we are working hard to learn from our competitors and to create our own skills.
Q. What is the unique factor of Pikicast and why do you think users chose Pikicast over other social mobile apps?
A. The biggest difference of Pikicast compared to others that it is not an open platform; unlike others where anyone can upload information. Pikicast has editors to create and upload content and communicate with the users through hearts and comments. And I think users enjoy such contents made by professional people, which are why they read, watch, and listen to Pikicast.
How Are You Doing Pikicast?
Q. It has been quite a while since Pikicast first launched, how has Pikicast grown compared to its past?
A. There hasn’t been much of a change. However, one area that we have grown in is that we have more of a know-how in this industry now. We know how to professionally deal with things and thus the content that we create has improved. The range of commercials has widened from business reasons to ones that are for the public, which is a huge differnce compared to the past.
Q. Following up on the previous question, are there any parts of Pikicast that you, as a CEO, would want to change or anything you would like to develop?
A. We want to bond with the users and the public more. Due to realistic problems, such as regulations and finances, it is true that the amount and variety of contents have decreased, and since we also need to make profit to create better content, the use of advertisements has developed a certain gap between Pikicast and the audience. Thus, we are working hard and researching ways to balance out our profit model and to provide quality content. One solution that we are using at the moment is branded content, which naturally blends advertisement factors into the content with feeling out of place.
Q. What kind of content are you planning to add and is there any content or culture of Pikicast that you wish to bring back? A. We have about six to seven thousand types of content in Pikicast, and there is no specific content that I want to bring back. But one thing that I would want to bring back is the past Pikicast, which had more diverse content so that viewers would have no time to be bored.
What Are Your Plans Pikicast?
Q. As the society rapidly changes, how is Pikicast going to catch up with this and are there any specific factors that the company is focusing on?
A. I think this could be answered in several categories. To begin with, starting from the inside of the company, developing the best working environment for the editors is a priority. We are trying to create an environment where editors can be educated and also easily find resources for their contents. Looking at this question business wise, Pikicast is and will always be working hard to create content that is enjoyable so that it can serve this society, which is flooded with information. And we will always keep track of changing trends as well. Additionally, we are thinking about branching out to different businesses through open platforms and collaborations with other companies
Q. We have heard news that Pikicast has signed a contract with a Thai media company called ‘Ukkbi’ and is also thinking of joining the block chain TTC protocol. What exactly are these projects and what kind of results will they give to Pikicast?
A. As said before, we are trying to make collaborations with other companies and one of them is ‘Ukkbi’, a media company operating in Thailand. What we basically do in this collaboration is that we share and provide our content, more specifically, usually video contents to ‘Ukkbi’ and people in Thailand are able to watch our content through it. So, we can say that through this project, Pikicast is starting to enter the global market as well. Also, when you first encounter the word blockchain and TTC protocol, it is hard to understand since they are new concepts. However, just to give a brief explanation, everything on the Internet at each moment is usually based on profit for the company itself. For example, all the ‘likes’ that people click on Facebook are for Facebook. However, through blockchain technology, the consumers are provided one coin each time they press a ‘like’. This will make the consumers more active, and through this, the company will develop more. It is a win-win game for both the company and the consumers. This blockchain concept will rapidly develop and everything will soon be related to blockchain technology. This is my personal thought as someone who has worked in the finance market, IT, the game industry and now the media industry. Therefore, by joining the block chain TTC protocol, Pikicast is just trying to be a little more advanced than others.
Q. As Pikicast becomes more popular; many are starting to think that being an editor of Pikicast is a great career. Does Pikicast have any preferences in choosing the people they work with?
A. We are one of those companies that really do not look into qualifications, or the so-called ‘spec’ in South Korea. Since we have different teams for different types of content, staff members in those particular teams go into each job interview. Pikicast is all about creating, sharing, and communicating, so the teams choose whom they are willing to work with. They focus on what their future teammate likes, what his or her interests are, and sometimes even ask what kind of Kakaotalk emojis they use because that usually shows one’s personality. We do not really care about what university you are from nor what grades you have received, but rather if you are a person that can blend in with Pikicast and its team.
Q. 2018 is almost at its end and looking back, what are the things that you, as Pikicast’s CEO, have achieved and what goals do you have for the coming year?
A. I guess my goal was and will continue to be to take Pikicast to the past when there was so much greater content, the time when we were able to make creations with not as many restrictions and profit-based thoughts. In 2018, we tried but did not achieve much, so this will continue to be our goal. And in 2019, I would love to create a new bond with the users while making more interesting content.
Q. In Hanyang University, there are many students who want to start a business and create apps that can be used by many people just like Pikicast. For those students out there, do you have any advice or thoughts as a CEO of Pikicast?
A. It might seem brutally realistic, but my advice is that if you are not going to strive for your business, do not even start because running a business is a lot harder than it is shown to be. I really hope that people do not plan to establish their own companies just because they have failed to enter the company that they wanted to go to or because they want to avoid reality. The best advice that I could give would be to really focus on what you are doing right now and know exactly why you are doing it. Also, you have to prepare the fundamental factors to start a business. First, ask yourself if you have the ability to continuously run a company and then check if you have the money to run it for over a year. Additionally, create your own selling point. Business is all about selling and buying, and society does not buy something that has no selling point. Having a selling point is essential. Last but not least, be careful of the start-up culture that is within the Korean society. In other words, people in South Korea tend to think that if a startup business fails, it is something to be ashamed of and that it should not be started again. However, I have seen many people that wanted to start their own company when I was studying in the U.S. and one thing that surprised me was the different perspective in terms of failure. They consider failure as just a part of the journey to success. And yet, all the companies that we call ‘successful’ have experienced more failures than success. This is a perception that we need to change. Thus, please do not be afraid of failure. As mentioned before, if you know exactly what you are doing, and you have a clear vision; failure is just a key to success. Keep working and keep trying.