2018 STARTUP:CON report
The word ‘agile’ is often associated with startups. The survival strategy of many startups is to come up with ideas that larger companies – which own most of the ‘pie’ in the market – have overlooked to pierce into the needs of consumers. The small scale and flexible operating method of startups is a strength that enables them to quickly adapt to various market situations that change ever-rapidly, while also allowing them to be more resourceful. The fact that large conglomerates admit the limitations of their strict organizational features and race to partner up with ‘unicorns’ in various industries proves that the independent strengths and values that are difficult for them to pursue can be found in startups.
Startups also move the fastest and work the hardest at the contact point between ICT and contents. Everyone expected that the various ICT technologies would diversify and expand the world of contents at unprecedented speeds, but it is startups that actually race to come up with new ideas and dive into the market. Based on radical challenges like these, Uber and Airbnb opened new horizons in the transportation and lodging industry, and there is a high possibility that startups will be the companies that open up a never-before-imagined world of new contents.
To lay the groundwork for a unicorn in the contents sector to appear, the Korea Creative Content Agency once again held STARTUP:CON this year. A glimpse into a new world of contents that will open, spearheaded by startups, could be seen at STARTUP:CON that was held at the Dongdaemun DDP CREA Hall from November 19 to 20. The goal of this STARTUP:CON was to share successful cases achieved through the ‘connection’ of different fields, and to help domestic startups find new success models. There were three key speakers for the conference. Dan Goods, Fabien Riggall and Robbie Baxter inspire the entire world through their unparalleled ideas and innovative attempts in their fields of visual design, cinema, and business. These three speakers shared their unique experiences with the audience at STARTUP:CON.
NASA ‘Visual Strategist’ Dan Goods
-Importance of sharing clear ideas
Dan Goods, the first speaker, is an industrial design artist and a self-made success story who was employed by NASA. His official position was ‘visual strategist’ – a position that did not even exist at NASA before Mr. Goods was recruited. At the NASA think tank JPL (Jet Propulsion Lab), Dan Goods worked with colleagues from different backgrounds and majors including advertising and anthropology to help the space scientists and engineers at NASA to organize their thoughts and draw a picture of their future mission. The team used a number of creative methods to share that picture with colleagues and outside figures more clearly.
The reason why this process is so important is because it is only when it is possible to fully convey the importance of a project to outsiders that you can start the exploration on the right foot. Even if a group consists of scientists at NASA, they have different fields and majors, so it is difficult for them to understand what each other is saying. Conveying ideas becomes even more important when you are talking to a major decision-maker at NASA. Goods said, “NASA is like a city filled with scientists and engineers. They want their ideas to be chosen for the next project – it’s as if they were businessmen.”
As well, Goods has worked on various projects to share the achievements of NASA with the outside world using various visual and audio artwork. Goods said that it is very important to make people outside of their fields to understand the projects and receive feedback. He advised: “If you are starting up a business, you should have a person next to you who has different expertise and views from you.”
Founder of ‘Secret Cinema’, Fabien Riggall
-Creativity that elevates cinema into experiences
The second speaker, Fabien Riggall, is an entrepreneur who succeeded by starting a unique cinema screening business called ‘Secret Cinema’ in the UK 12 years ago. What makes Secret Cinema special is that it reinterprets movies from a completely different perspective to create new value.
During his speech, Mr. Riggall explained his business model using the example of Star Wars, which attracted the biggest audience (over 100,000) among the films screened by Secret Cinema. First, when a customer buys a ticket for around KRW 70,000, an email with a new virtual identity and secret code is sent to the customer. The email contains information on where and when the movie will be screened, and it also explains in detail what kind of clothes to wear to the screening. Customers who receive this email now begin a sort of a role-play.
The screening location is decorated just like the world in the movie. For example, during Star Wars, the venue was based on the motif of Planet Tatooine. Secret Cinema does a lot of work to create this type of space. They even hired the London Olympics stage production team to install a life-sized X-Wing (the fighter plane in Star Wars) model. This is deeply related to the fundamental goal of Secret Cinema. Riggall explained that when he watched movies at movie theaters as a child, he was so immersed in the movie that he could barely distinguish between the world on the silver screen and the real world. He said that his long-time wish of ‘wanting to exist inside movies’ led him to start up Secret Cinema.
The audience that arrives at the designated place dresses up like the characters in the movie to have a completely new experience. The entire time of the experience, including the actual film, can take up to seven hours. The contents of the experience change completely depending on the story of the movie. Riggall said that he wanted to add a social meaning to this experience. “I was influenced by the French idea that public art can change society. For this reason, we wanted to implant thoughts about the world in the audience. For example, when we screened One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, we gave our audience the experience of a mental ward. During The Battle of Algiers, we made the audience continuously feel the problems with terrorism, which is constantly talked about by the press. For The Shawshank Redemption, we offered an experience in prison to ask the audience whether the judicial system and prisons meet their social goals.
Riggall advised that it is necessary to take a new approach when thinking about the future of entertainment and marketing. He said, “When movies first started, it was a type of experience and event of screening a film. Beautifully decorated movie theaters became symbols, as the ‘church of culture’.
People dressed up and gathered at theaters and they enjoyed not only the movies, but also social experiences. My goal is to recreate this in our present times. The future of entertainment in my opinion is ‘freedom,’ where the walls between buildings and walls between media crumble. Based on this, we attempted a new way of marketing to penetrate into the daily lives of audiences. Today’s consumers do not react to normal marketing strategies.” He recommended actively thinking outside of the box when approaching consumers.
Author of The Membership Economy, Robbie Baxter
-Sharing and Subscription to Membership
Robbie Baxter’s book The Membership Economy, a global hit, was also quite popular in Korea. In The Membership Economy, Baxter claims that there was a limitation to the sharing and subscription economy, which was a global issue for startups, and proposed the ‘membership economy’ as a solution.
According to Baxter, the membership economy has some similarities with the sharing economy and the subscription economy, but it is completely different in several essential ways. First, the key to the subscription economy depends on the construction of a pricing model. The ultimate goal of the subscription economy is to make customers continuously pay a fee for access to their desired service or experience. Next, the sharing economy is a model that allows customers to share their assets or resources with others. One well-known example of the subscription economy in Korea is the lodging app, Airbnb. Instead of offering its own lodging sites, it offered its customers to trade their residential areas with others for lodging. Customers trade each other’s assets and not the assets of Airbnb, but they believe that they used the services of Airbnb. Baxter summarized, “The feature of the sharing economy is to make assets that are owned by customers appear to be assets owned by the company.”
On the other hand, the membership economy can be more like a shared economy or more like a subscription economy depending on the type of industry. The key is strategies to use resources or how ‘relationships with customers’ are configured, rather than price policies. Baxter explained, “The membership economy basically focuses on creating a long-term relationship with customers. In membership economies, regardless of what type of business decision is made, companies must take into consideration how the customers will understand and perceive that decision. By focusing on the genuineness of long-term relationships, customers will voluntarily become ‘members’ of the company and maintain relationships with you permanently instead of looking for alternatives.”
If you wish to configure a membership economy model as a startup, you should select customers to target, start the business in a narrow spectrum, identify the most valuable customer base and come up with services that they will need for a lifetime. It is also necessary to come up with a strategy to keep those customers permanently. Ms. Baxter also stated, “Ultimately, the key to the membership economy is how customers of the business are treated.”
Baxter gave especially good advice for startups in the contents industry when applying the membership economy. She said, “All content businesses must create services that customers will ‘happily pay for,” and added, “You are more likely to succeed by selecting a specific group of consumers and picking an item that they will be highly interested in. Using the media as an example, you can find that the subscription rate of media that specializes in a specific type of news is much higher than other types of media. Consumers are more likely to have the will to purchase when the focus is both narrower and deeper.”
Article by Reporter Bang Seung-eon (firstname.lastname@example.org)