Small Business Highlight, South Korea
I first met Eric during the Oasis 2 Intellectual Property Rights class that was held at the Korean Invention Promotion Association in Gangnam-gu. Since that time we have stayed in touch messaging in a group chat regarding startup events and hackathons in South Korea. I want to share with everyone his journey with his company Anarchy Prints.
Small Business Interview: Eric Michel
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your background? What made you initially want to come to South Korea?
My name is Eric Michel. I graduated from the Autonomous University of Guadalajara, in Mexico with a major in Biomedical Electronics. After graduation, I won a scholarship from Kyung Hee University Global Campus in Suwon to study a master/ Ph.D. combined program in Biomedical Engineering. During my studies, I used my spare time to learn multiple programming languages and became passionate and skillful about software and mobile application development. After obtaining my Ph.D., I worked as a postdoc researcher in addition to starting my own entrepreneurial projects. For the last two years, I have focused full-time on my enterprising endeavors.
How long have you been in business?
We started Anarchy Prints (www.anarchyprints.com) in October 2017.
What service (s) and or product (s) do you offer/manufacture?
It is an apparel company, including limited edition t-shirts, pants, and sweaters for woman and men as well as some accessories. Our products are trademark designs. We produce and manufacture mainly in the U.S.A, but we also have a warehouse in Europe.
What is the process of getting the product (s) and or service (s) to customers? (i.e. Mail, Email, or Amazon, etc.)
It is an online-based store, our products are shipped directly to the customer’s address.
What makes your business unique?
Our product designs are a unique and limited edition, they cannot be found at any other stores. We focus on spreading awareness to the environment and endangered species and support other social causes and nonprofits. We owe everything to nature and wanted to do something in return. Part of our proceeds is donated to great integrity foundations like World Wide Fund For Nature.
Who is your target customers? (i.e. South Korea, Asia or Worldwide)
Our target customers started in the U.S.A and Canada and now we are covering South Korea.
Can you tell me about your experience with the Seoul Global Center?
I have completed three OASIS programs at the Seoul Global Center. All of them helped me basically to get points to get the Startup Visa. This is a special VISA (and requires 80 points) for foreign entrepreneurs who want to start a business in South Korea.
Each program gives certain knowledge and information regarding how things move in Korea so you can prepare to have higher chances of success. One program took me the whole weekend from Friday to Sunday, morning to afternoon. The other took about 2-3 weeks for a couple of hours a week.
The last program was a kind of contest where I presented my patent idea. After being selected they helped me to build a prototype and to register to get the rights to my design. This program was a total of six days, including the days for writing down my idea and the final presentation.
What’s your best take away from attending the Seoul Global Center classes?
My best take away from Seoul Global Center were the classes about which tools to use to better engage Korean customers. Also, I filed my first solo-authorship patent in Korea after getting some help from the Seoul Global Center lawyer orientation service.
How did you build a successful customer base? How do you advertise your business?
Our main marketing tool is Facebook ads. We also join groups and forums in social media as our way to build a solid customer base. Currently, we are exploring new options like Instagram.
Describe your typical workday? Are you working on your business full-time?
I am in charge of the maintenance and support of our store website and the order processing for the purchased products. On a typical workday I to process new requests and purchases to send the products to our customers as soon as possible. After all the orders are fulfilled I update the online store for new products, promotions, and special discounts. I work everyday normally between 3-4 hours.
Where did your organization’s funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it?
The capital we had invested so far is 100% personal funds. My silent partner and I share fixed costs. However, we are exploring the possibilities to get capital from other private investors to make a more aggressive marketing campaign and expand our business.
What are your company’s goals?
The main goal of Anarchy Prints is to spread awareness about the environment and the endangered species, through fashion apparel and offer satisfaction to our customers. We want our customers to wear products that are making a positive contribution to our planet. Eventually, we hope to become a profitable and self-sustained business.
What advice would you give to individuals who want to launch a startup in South Korea?
I have been in Korea for almost 8 years and I noticed that Korea is offering big opportunities to startups in the last years, especially for people who had graduated from Korean universities. If you want to launch a business in Korea you must include at least one Korean citizen in your team, understand Korean culture and speak Korean to at least an intermediate level. Other than these three fundamentals, it’s not much different from launching a business in your home country.
Find out more information about the small business scene in South Korea with my post on Path To Obtaining A Startup Visa In South Korea
Written by: Eric Michel * Edited & Interviewed by: Erica Dozier